Is DIY Solar a Good Idea in Utah?
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Sometimes the pros of having a professional do the job make it worth the extra cost. While wholesale solar for Utah homes costs less, installing solar isn’t a simple DIY project. We want to make sure we use our expertise to help you accomplish one of two objectives:
- Avoid making mistakes with DIY solar or wholesale solar distributors, should you decide to move forward with the project.
- Understand what you’re getting into when you take on residential solar as a DIY project.
Let’s begin with some of the most common mistakes with wholesale or DIY solar. These mistakes can turn solar into a hassle.
A Lack of Solar Customization in Utah Wholesale Solar
In a basic DIY kit, each array comes with the same parts. A one-size-fits-all option works for some projects, but solar isn’t one of them — unless you’re a master electrician. Even then, it’s tricky without NABCEP PV Installation certification. Homes come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, making each installation unique, and that’s before accounting for surroundings like shade. Customization for the home upon which the panels will be installed helps installers tailor the system better to meet the homeowner’s needs.
Available Space for the Solar Panels
If the Utah home doesn’t have the needed space surrounding it or on top of its roof, the homeowner can’t add residential solar. The average residential solar panel comes to about five feet by three feet, with the number of panels installed ranging from 10 to 30-plus.
The average household requires about 18 panels for its energy needs, equaling at least 90 feet by 54 feet of free space. Homes without the requisite space can’t leverage the benefits of residential solar.
Many homes have space on their rooftops, but shading from trees or other structures near the roof makes it unusable. If you don’t want to entertain the possibility of tree-trimming, solar may not be a good option.
Residential Solar Geometry: Angles, Arcs, and Zeniths
Once it’s been determined whether the house has enough space, solar companies find the angle the solar panels need, which is unique to each home and involves several angle measurements. Some of these angles include zenith, solar altitude, and azimuth.
Zenith is used to measure the sun’s position in the sky. Solar altitude measures the angle between the lines that lead to the sun and the horizon. Azimuth determines the angle between the sun and the south.
The most important angle for solar installations is the angle of incidence, which measures the angle a ray of sun forms with a line perpendicular to the surface of a solar panel. Tending to the angle of incidence in a solar installation ensures solar panels line up with the sun accordingly, which will improve the panels’ production and therefore solar homeowners’ savings.
Finding the angle of incidence depends on several other factors. These include the hour angle, surface azimuth, angle collector, slope, declination, and latitude.
Energy Usage — Critical for Residential Solar
While a neighbor may have the same square footage as you, that doesn’t mean the home has the same usage. Energy hogs like saltwater aquariums, pools, and hot tubs can jack up the costs of power.
When savvy solar companies determine the size of the solar array needed, they look at a home’s electricity usage. Usage shows the amount of energy the household uses. The monthly bill explains the usage for that month. Thusly, electrical usage, not square footage, is what determines the sizing of each home’s custom solar array.
Most solar companies ask for 12 months of usage so they can determine how much energy the home typically uses in a year. Typically the baseline for making solar worthwhile financially is 6000 kWh of electricity usage annually, which equals 500 kWh per month. Usage combined with the average sun hours for the area determines how many panels the house needs. For new builds without usage history, companies will install a minimum amount of panels and add on more later provided electricity bills in the new home warrant them.
Solar Panel and Solar Inverter Production
Not all solar equipment has the same quality. Some parts cost less for a reason. A lower price shouldn’t become the only motivation to buy equipment for a DIY Utah solar project. The average solar panel production efficiency for 2020 equals about 19 percent. If the solar panels have an efficiency rating below 15 percent, it’s best to look for a different solar panel. The inverter also determines array production. An inverter changes DC power coming from the sun to AC power used in the home. An inverter with a different power rating than the solar panels could impact production.
Should You Forego a Skilled Utah Solar Installation Crew?
Utah natives are crafty and self-sufficient, drawing them toward DIY projects. However, even those who know the basics of what it takes to size a residential solar system for their Utah home aren’t ready to install it. Unless you’re a master electrician or NABCEP certified, a DIY installation isn’t the way to go.
Electrical Solar Wiring Headaches
Messing up the wiring could cause expensive and catastrophic issues down the road. Having too many wires in a small area or not having long enough wires only covers the tip of the iceberg for staying in compliance with the state of Utah’s electrical code.
Paperwork and Solar Panel Permits
A big part of both residential and commercial solar includes paperwork. After completing the paperwork, the federal tax credit can cover 26 percent of the total cost.
A solar installation can’t start until you have a permit. Those who stay connected to the grid need a net metering agreement.
There are numerous Utah solar installers who can handle these large headaches for you. Solar companies ensure paperwork is completed accurately, and quickly.
DIY: What an Off-Grid Solar Array Takes
Doing DIY off-grid solar becomes even more complicated. These setups need solar storage, such as a home battery and a battery charge controller. To go off-grid, homeowners need to examine how much energy they use versus how much they need daily.
Solar Battery Backup
While battery backup options for grid-tied homes add convenience, it’s essential to add home batteries to an off-grid home. Battery storage collects power throughout the day. Home batteries hold enough electricity to power the whole house. Without home batteries, nightlife would become nonexistent in an off-grid solar home.
A charge controller limits the rate of the electric current moving to and from a battery. Without a charge controller, the battery might overload or let all the stored power out.
Emergency Solar and Generators
Solar only works when sunlight reaches it. Even though solar panels will generate power on a cloudy or rainy day, or in Utah’s case, through inversion, they won’t produce as much energy as they will on a clear day.
However, with home batteries, it would take several consecutive days of poor weather to deplete the battery supply. In this case, a generator would make a great backup energy option.
A Professional Solar Installation
Go Solar Group has nothing against DIY projects, but when it comes to residential or commercial solar, we recommend having a professional assist with your solar journey, and we’d tell you the same thing if we weren’t trying to sell you a system. We recommend comparing several Utah solar companies to get the best deal. If you would like a quote, fill out our quick survey.