Can I install solar panels myself?

Fast read

Do-it-yourself (DIY) solar installation is not recommended for several reasons. First, the federal government rebate for solar is only available for systems installed by Clean Energy Council-accredited solar installers, so a DIY installation will not be eligible for this rebate.

Handling solar panels requires a high level of care to avoid damage, and working on a roof can be dangerous for those without the necessary skills and experience. Electrical work must be carried out by a professional, and a qualified solar installer will be able to assess the structural integrity of a roof before installation to avoid potential damage.

Finally, a DIY installation may void the manufacturer's warranty and may not be covered by insurance if there are issues with the system. Hiring a professional solar installer is recommended to ensure a safe and effective installation.

Solar DIY, is it a good idea? 

Whether you are conscious of your energy bill or your environmental impact if you are a homeowner in Australia. It’s not hard to see the appeal of installing a solar system. However, this then raises the question with some homeowners, especially the ones in the building trade. Such as roof repairs, whether you have to get it professionally installed or whether it can be a DIY job and you save further money. 

We at Your Energy Answers do not recommend installing a solar system yourself. However, there are at least five reasons to leave this job to professionals.

1. No rebate for DIY solar

One of the key reasons is that the Federal Government rebate for solar is only for PV systems installed by Clean Energy Council-accredited solar installers. Therefore, a PV system that is established by someone who does not have these credentials will not be able to access the solar rebate (STCs).

For a standard family solar system, the rebate can be between $2000 and $3000. Therefore any savings from the DIY solar approach will usually be less than the rebate is worth. So from an economic point of view alone, it is not worth it.

2. Inexperienced handling can damage solar panels

While someone with roofing building qualifications might feel confident about installing certain parts of your solar system, such as the panels, designing and installing a solar system in Australia is a job for the experts. Getting the system adequately wired and connected to function for decades and connecting to the inverter and monitoring requires a professional. This is demonstrated, for example, in the solar panel handling process.

Just imagine that each panel your installer carries is a giant TV screen. This is how much care they give your panels when transporting and maintaining them. However, it must also be said that one must not drop the panel to damage them. They can sometimes be more sensitive than that. For example, if you carry them on your shoulder, you could damage them as the pressure goes to one specific cell, and it could cause a microcrack.

3. Working at heights and roofs is not a DIY job

You will be mistaken if you think you can get solar panels on your roof with a ladder. Panels are much heavier than one would expect and weigh over 20 kg each. This means it can be a dangerous exercise for those not skilled in this field.

You are risking physical injury via heights and live electricity. The physical dangers aren’t limited to the installation itself. If any issues arise throughout the system’s lifespan, it will be up to you to return to the roof and solve the problem. Worse yet, your rooftop system may catch fire if the wiring isn’t correctly connected.

installer on roof installing solar
Don’t install solar yourself; there are professional installers for a reason!

4. Electrical work by non-professionals is illegal

Why would one risk the lives of one’s loved ones and oneself by playing with live DC electricity? Solar panels require specialist designs, and installers have learned the craft via lengthy apprenticeships and years of learning in the field. One cannot pick it up in a quick read of “Solar Installs for Dummies”.

5. You can not judge the structural integrity of your roof  

If your roof is 30 years or older, ensure it is professionally inspected at the beginning of your solar journey. This is because there could be several structural issues you don’t know about, and placing heavy solar panels on your roof in this situation could make these issues worse. A qualified solar installer can make this assessment and avoid long-term issues. 

6. You can damage your roof

Another reason it is not recommended to install a solar system yourself is that it increases the risk of roof damage. As part of the racking installation, there will have to be roof penetrations to attach the brackets to your roof trusses. Drilling or grinding into the wrong location on the roof might lead to future water damage to your ceilings below. This can be costly. 

7. You will lose your warranties if you install solar yourself

A DIY solar installation will likely invalidate your roof’s warranties, and your solar system’s warranties mean you’ll be responsible for any necessary repairs in the future. Of course, you can still contact the manufacturer. However, if there is a fault and you have no proof of certified installation practices, you will most likely be denied any warranty claims.

So as you can see, there are many reasons that a solar system installation is left to the professionals. DIY solar is a false economy.

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