Homeowners concerned about their carbon footprint and energy costs have probably considered a solar power system. These days, homeowners can also opt for a solar roof, which incorporates the energy-harvesting capability into regular roof shingles.
Getting solar shingles or panels installed correctly is essential for the monetary savings that homeowners can expect. However, DIY solar installation poses several issues.
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Solar panels are cumbersome and can cause roof damage if not correctly handled. If they are dropped or dragged across the roof, they can damage the shingles and membrane. It can also leave holes that could lead to roof leaks during a rainstorm. A professional installer understands the needs and nuances of your roof, and they can install solar panels without damaging it.
It is also important to remember that a professional installation will be required if you want to take advantage of any rebates or incentives associated with your solar energy system. These require a permit and inspections that a professional must perform. A DIYer cannot meet these requirements, so you would be wasting money by going the DIY route.
Another thing to remember is that solar roofing repairs and installation are complicated, and it takes a lot of knowledge to install them correctly. For example, knowing what type of racking system will be best for your house is vital. Also, consider where shade-inhibiting objects are located on your property and how they will affect the sunlight your panels absorb. It’s also essential to correctly wire everything before installing it on your rooftop. Many cities require that all conduits running on the roof, through eaves, and inside the attic be painted to match the exterior surface of your home.
If your roof is in good condition, solar panels should not damage it. However, if they are not installed correctly, or the roofing material is not compatible with solar, they can cause damage. It is also essential to find a good quality installation company. Check public reviews and compare prices before choosing one.
If you choose a professional solar installation company, they will ensure that the installation process is safe and doesn’t cause any damage to the roof. The installers will drill holes into the rafter to place the solar panels. These holes are not permanent and won’t affect the roof’s integrity if they are adequately sealed. However, if you do it yourself, you might accidentally use too much pressure or the wrong screws and damage your roof.
Another problem if you install solar panels yourself, is that the wires connecting the board to the microinverter might become damaged by rodents. You should ask the solar company to include a cable warranty.
In addition to the wires, you will need a charge controller to channel energy to your backup battery system. You will also need a meter box to monitor the power you produce and feed it back into the grid. Finally, you will need a backup power battery bank to provide electricity when the sun is not shining.
Once the racking is installed and the junction boxes and solar AC DC disconnects are wired, the panels can be laid down. They are heavy — even if you feel confident on your roof and ladder, safety harnesses are worth it. If working in harsh weather conditions, working with another person at this stage is essential to make it easier to maneuver the equipment.
If you plan a grid-tied system connecting to the utility power grid, your installer must hook it to a backup battery and charge controller. If you are planning a hybrid or off-grid system, install a solar battery storage bank that stores excess energy and can be used during power outages. Regardless of the type of system you are installing, it will probably require a solar panel calculator that can account for your location and roof tilt and provide a recommended system size.
Drilling holes into the roof is one of the most significant risks of rooftop solar installation, especially for DIY installations. If the holes are not correctly sealed or flashed, they can cause structural damage and leaks. The good news is that if you hire a licensed electrician to do the work, they will likely be liable and covered by insurance in the event of any damages caused during installation.
You may need a permit to install solar panels, depending on state regulations. This can be a long, drawn-out process requiring navigating government and utility company offices. Professional solar installers have people on staff who are dedicated to navigating these processes. They have also built relationships with the individuals who review and approve permits for residential solar energy systems.
In addition to having to worry about getting a permit, you’ll need to know whether your roof is suitable for solar panel installation. This includes knowing if your roof is insulated if you have vent pipes on the top, and if it can support the weight of solar panels. You’ll also need to consider the age of your roof and whether you plan to replace it anytime soon. It’s best to fix your roof before installing a solar system, as it will likely have to be taken down and reinstalled if it is damaged during installation.
In short, DIY solar installation can be a dangerous project that is better left to the professionals. Not to mention, you may not be eligible for the many rebates and incentives that go along with a residential solar energy system if you don’t have it installed by a licensed installer.