Building Your Own Solar Panels
If you (1) have previous experience in electrical wiring and other types of home repair; (2)have the time to learn how to install a solar system according to code specifications, then consider doing it yourself. However, bear in mind that some programs that subsidize homeowners’ installation of solar systems require a professional contractor to do the work. Also, systems must be up to electrical codes and when connected with the utility grid, certain safety features must be included to ensure that solar power doesn’t go to the grid in the event of a power failure. That way, workers will not be electrocuted when working on lines they assume to be dead. You will probably need to acquire permits to install a system, and you will need to get interconnection and net-metering agreements for grid-tied systems
Because there are so many variables involved in solar technology, we recommend that you talk to contractors with experience in solar PV and/or hot water heating installations.
In choosing a PV provider, you might want to consider the following factors:
- Has the company installed grid-tied systems as well as stand-alone?
- How long has the company been installing solar systems?
- Is the company properly licensed? Your state electrical board can tell you if a contractor has a valid electrician’s license. Your city or county can give you information on further licensing that might be required.
- Has the company ever been sued? Check with your state electrical board, and ask for tips on evaluating contractors from city and county authorities and the Better Business Bureau.
If you decide to go with a pro, the following Websites offer installer directories:
On the next page, you will find a brief history of solar panels, and some likely changes that are on the horizon.