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CAN I INSTALL A HOME SOLAR POWER SYSTEM MYSELF?

 

If you are a skilled DIY handyperson who knows plumbing and electrics, you could install a home solar power system or home solar water heating system yourself.

If you are not familiar with plumbing and electrical work, you are advised to leave the installation of your system to qualified installers.

There are plenty of sales outlets offering modules or complete packages for installing your own home solar powered hot water system or PV electricity generating system.  There is obviously a market for this DIY type of product.  If you feel you have the technical skills to undertake your own installation of a home solar powered system, then, by all means investigate this option further. 

 

Doing it yourself will mean you probably won’t qualify for a grant from the appropriate government agency.  However, as you will probably save the labour costs associated with installing your solar system, that may not matter.

 

Although you may have the appropriate skills, before you start out make sure you can respond to all these points as well:

 

  • What size of solar power installation will you want to buy for your home, based on your usage of hot water or electricity?
  • Will the climate in your area requires you to use a special technology (see here)?
  • Does the roof area of your home have sufficient flat space at an appropriate angle to the direction of the midday sun to accommodate for PV panels or flat plate collector or other hot water system?  If you have sufficient yard space, your system could be mounted on the ground rather than the roof. (If you are installing a heating system for a pool, you would probably not use your home roof as the installation point.)
  • Is anything likely to shade your solar system (buildings, growing trees, etc)?  What can you do about it?
  • What planning approval is required?
  • Do you need approval from your local electrical inspector, and while you are checking, ask him/her whether you have to meet any national or local electrical codes?
  • Will your equipment need to meet any national or local safety and/or building standards?
  • Does your home insurer have any special requirements they have – for the installation phase and after?
  • If you are mounting your home solar system on the roof, especially if it is a PV solar array, will your roof be strong enough to bear the load?
  • Have all you need to properly ground your system, including making it resistant to lightening strikes?
  • Are there any leaks to the roof that need repaired (check from the attic if possible)?
  • What effect will the wind have on your installed system?
  • If you plan on transmitting power to the local grid, what are your local utility company’s requirements?
  • If you plan a stand alone system using batteries, ensure batteries are not located in living areas, but that they are in well ventilated area.
  • Where possible choose a supplier that provides detailed instructions and is willing to provide an after-sales technical support service.
  • Make sure you don’t destroy any guarantee (often up to 20 years) by incorrect installation.

Please also look at the other links from the homepage.

 

The American publication, Home Power Magazine frequently has articles of use to DIY installers.  If you can’t find it on your local newsstand, you can take out a subscription or download copies from their website for US$5.00. (Some back issues in paper format are also available for purchase.)

 

The website www.builditsolar.com is designed specially for DIY fans.

 

 

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