Some big-box retailers and online solar design firms now sell DIY solar panel kits, including inverters or microinverters. To avoid buying low-quality products, it is wise to do your research up front. The Solar Design Tool compares solar panel specifications and provides manufacturer’s installation guides. Go Solar California, Principal Solar Institute and PHOTON Laboratory both publish test results and ratings of PV modules. PHOTON also tests and rates solar inverters. Home Power magazine provides both instruction and product reviews for DIY solar electricity and solar water heating.
It’s not only about product. Be aware that some states will not honor the tax rebates if the installation is not done by a certified professional. Also if you take the DIY approach, you will be responsible for all the permitting requests, site inspections, and utility paperwork that a solar contractor usually does. Make sure you know what’s required before you start. Here, for example, are Duke Energy’s requirements for connecting to the grid. If you plan to install a battery-backed system, check with your local government agencies to see what the electrical code requires.
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