How to Install Solar at Home: A Step-by-Step Guide

The Step-by-Step Guide to Going Solar at Home

By the team at Solar112
Reviewed by Brett Stadelmann

Looking for simple solutions to going solar at home? We have got you covered!

Maybe at first, you will find it a complex task to accomplish, but it is much simpler than you think. In this article, we have prepared a step-by-step guide to installing solar panels at home. 

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Almost everybody is well aware of the benefits of installing solar panels in this environmentally-conscious world. From federal incentives to energy bill savings, this clean energy can provide immediate advantages. 

However, the cost of hiring a professional to carry out the installation, along with other the upfront installation costs, can put a hole in your pocket. It’s out of some people’s reach entirely, leading many to attempt to install solar panels on their own, to save the installation charges, or opt for different methods of payment, like solar financing. 

Whatever course you choose, you need to be ultra-careful. In this article, you will explore some easy steps to make your solar installation journey easier and successful in one go. 

Let’s begin!

Further Reading: Solar Panels for the Home: The Complete Homeowner’s Guide

Why Opt for a Solar Power System? 

Before reading the guide to going solar at home, let’s know about some benefits of solar energy, especially for homeowners. After all, if you know the benefits, it will get easier and more interesting for you to complete the solar guide at home. 

Environmentally-friendly

No or Less Dependency on Energy

  • Solar panels can save energy, so, during power outages, battery storage of panels can provide you with electricity. 
  • Solar energy makes you less dependent on the grid electricity supply. 
  • You can get a continuous supply of power with clean energy which also gives you peace of mind. 

Monetary Savings

  • It keeps you away from the fluctuating rates and dependency on utility companies as you can generate electricity on your own. 
  • With time, you can save a lot on electricity bills. 
  • If you are worried about the upfront cost of solar panel installation, you can make it more affordable than ever with solar tax credits and rebates. 

As you have the benefits of going solar at home, here is our step-by-step guide to installing solar panels without any hurdles. 

Solar panels on a home's rooftop under a blue sky

The Important Steps to Installing Solar at Home

If you think installing solar panels on your own is difficult, you are wrong. Here are the five steps to help you to assist in do-it-yourself (DIY) solar installation. 

Check the Roof

The very first step in going solar at home is to check and analyze the roof and search for a suitable space to install the panels. The reason to look for roof space is the compatibility of the rooftop as every space is not suitable for solar system installation. To make sure if the space is suitable or not, check the following factors:

  • The installation of the system should not be done in any shaded place or a place that doesn’t get sunlight for the major portion of the day. 
  • The roof receives sufficient sunlight, especially during noon to capture as much sunlight as possible. 
  • Make sure you have enough space on your rooftop to get the solar panel installed. The average surface area needed depends upon the number of panels you are going to install. So, before investing in the solar system, make sure you have enough space available. In case you need more energy, the measurement can go beyond the average. 
  • The roof should be strong enough to support the weight of solar panels and all the equipment. 
  • Check if the roof needs repair or any sort of replacement. If this is the case, then do it as soon as possible before installing the panels. This is because removing the panel and then repairing it is a complete hassle and very costly. 

Check the Type of Solar System Required

The second thing after analyzing the roof is to decide the type of solar system you need if you want solar energy to its complete capability. To do this, you can ask the questions to yourself:

  • Are you looking for comfort?
  • Do you want to save money on electricity bills?
  • Or do you just want to enjoy green energy? 

The grid-tied solar power systems can help you earn a big return on investment and save money on bills. It relies on net metering and the electrical grid to manage power shortfalls and surplus. Such types of solar panels can help you save between $20000 to $80000 in the average lifespan of a solar system (around 25 years). 

Another example is solar and storage systems that support power backup and energy independence. Such types of systems help during power cuts as they store energy. These types of solar systems are combined with costly batteries. You may even require more than one battery to fulfill your needs. So, the initial investment can be high in such cases. 

That’s why it is important to set your goals right before you choose the correct type of solar panel. But keep in mind to choose the solar system that absorbs maximum sunlight to give the enhanced output. If you are not sure about all these points, you can get professional help to figure out the things and decide what type of solar panel can be the best for your home requirements. 

Estimate the Installation Cost 

After you know the type of solar system to be installed, the next thing is to know the cost of installing the solar power system. As mentioned above, whether you need solar+storage systems or grid-tied power systems, you should know the cost associated with them. The solar system with storage capacity costs between $25000 to $50000 and the grid-tied solar panels system ranges between $15000- $20000. This is just an average cost estimate as per studies.

So, it is not necessary to get solar systems at these prices. It can vary as per location, the number of solar panels you require, or if you are taking professional help or installing on your own. There are many supporting things, like, federal tax credits to make your installation more affordable. You can save upto 30% on the complete solar system installation. For example, a solar system of $20000 can cost anywhere from $14000 after availing the benefits. 

Apart from federal tax credits, there are many other property tax exemptions, cash rebates, sales tax exemptions and reductions, net metering, and many other incentives to make solar system installation more affordable, especially for homeowners. 

Arrange Permits and Licenses

There is a need to get permits and approvals before you carry out solar panel installation at home. Some of the permits you need to apply for are an electrical permit, permission from the electricity utility, a building permit, a post-installation inspection, etc. 

Apart from this, you should also submit a code-compliant design of the solar panel system that will be installed on the roof. But, such conditions vary from location to location. So, consider all these things as per your residential area and the conditions that the local authorities imposed there. 

Buying the Solar Power System

After you decide on the location and type of solar panel system as per your requirements and budget, the next step is to buy it. Before investing in, make sure to check the following things:

  • You should check for the system’s efficiency by knowing the rate of conversion of green energy into electricity. The efficiency rate can vary between 15% to 20-21%. If you install high-efficiency solar panels, it will eliminate the need for buying more panels shortly. 
  • Check for the warranted power of the solar system. It will help you to check the amount of expected output from the system. The lesser the output, the higher the percentage. So, to meet your energy needs, you need to install additional solar panels.
  • PTC (Test Conditions) PVUSA (Photovoltaic for Utility Scale Applications) depends on a third party. If you take care of these ratings, you can get protection from inflated power ratings. So, you should try to consider a higher PTC rating, it will help you a lot.
  • Panels should be installed parallel to the sunlight to absorb maximum sunlight as more absorption means more power to be consumed. You can align the panels in the west or east position. 
Two workmen installing solar at home

Time for the Solar Panel Installation

After you have decided everything and taken all the necessary approvals, it is time to do solar panel installation on the rooftop of your home. The installation process is not a quick thing to do even the professionals take a couple of days to complete it. Since you need to install it on your own, here are some important preparation steps you should take care of:

Take Safety measures

It is important to take all the precautions and necessary actions before installing the solar panels on your own. This task can be risky as the surface is slippery, and working on height with high-voltage equipment and heavy tools can be hazardous. So, it is important to take precautions and safety before starting the installation task. 

Racking system

To hold and support the solar panels in one place, a racking system is needed. You should be careful enough as the racking system is directly drilled into the roof. If it is not done correctly, it can harm the power lines and cause leakages in the roof as well. 

Attaching MLPE

Module-level power electronics (MLPE) are tiny devices, like, power optimizers and microinverters that you need to attach to the solar panels. 

Mounting solar panels

Before mounting the solar panels, make sure your wiring is in the correct order. Every solar panel system has positive and negative DC wires. You can either zip-tie or clip them to the panels. After this, you need to do the wiring of each to the MLPE. After completing this, you need to insert the mid and end clamps into the mounting railing so that the panels are held in place. 

Wiring the system

After all this, it’s time to wire the power system. The solar panel system’s wires are fixed into a roof junction box. From here, they pass through a conduit to the external box. This roof junction box plays an important role in passing the electricity. That’s why it should be weatherproof too. 

Lastly, Starting the Solar System

After installing the solar power system, here are a few things to take into consideration before finally activating the system. 

  • After completing the installation process, you need to have a final inspection with the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). They would visit your place to monitor and match the design you submitted for installation. 
  • Permission to operate (PTO) is another important step to fulfill before you start the system. It allows you to connect the utility grid with the solar system to generate electricity. You can install an additional meter or replace the existing one with a net meter to monitor the output. 
  • If your area doesn’t receive much rain, you can maintain the panels easily. They don’t need much maintenance. If you face any issue at any time, you can always take the help of a professional. 

Final Thoughts

That’s all for now!

We hope you find this step-by-step guide to going solar at home useful and informative enough. It is always suggested that you should consider your budget before you make any decisions. Other than the monetary aspect, all the given steps are sufficient for you to do solar panel installation on your own. 

If you still have any questions regarding the installation of solar power systems, you can ask us. We would be happy to address all your concerns in the best way possible!

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