If you live in Maryland, DC, you’ve almost certainly seen ads for do-it-yourself (DIY) solar panel kits.
The advertised benefits of these home solar kits are impossible to ignore:
- Why hire a professional?
- Install your own solar panels
- Become 100% energy independent
- It’s as simple as 1-2-3!!!
Honestly, who doesn’t want energy independence — especially at a time of rising utility rates and worsening pollution?
Not surprisingly the DIY solar panel industry has really taken off in Maryland, DC. But before you rush out and buy your own solar panel kit, it’s worth exploring what these catchy commercials often leave out — namely cost and safety.
DIY Solar Panels Cost More Than Professional Installations
It’s a bit counterintuitive, but DIY solar panels are actually more expensive than professionally installed systems (parts and labor included).
How is that even possible?
Incentives & Net Metering
For starters, licensed installations qualify for Maryland, DC’s solar incentives and net metering.
DIY solar panels do not.
If you look around online, you’ll notice that standard 5kW DIY solar systems cost $10K+ for just the parts alone. You also have to factor in all the tools, time, and labor you’ll need to invest — even for “plug & play” solar panels that require minimal installation.
Contrast this with a licensed solar installation.
Once you factor in relevant rebates and tax credits, the average cost of a residential Maryland, DC installation is less than $7K. And thanks to net metering, it’s possible to receive negative electricity bills from the utility company.
Longevity & Output
DIY solar panel kits sell on speed and ease, with the promise of getting up and running in no time.
Professionally installed panels sell on performance, with the promise of lower electricity bills for decades. With most high quality installations, this guarantee is backed by 25-year warranties.
Some DIY solar panels actually come with their own warranties. But if you read the fine print, many of these policies become void if the installation isn’t completed by a licensed contractor.
Let’s look at what else DIY solar manufacturers leave out of their ads.
DIY Solar Panels Pose Certain Safety & Legal Risks
With no moving parts, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are incredibly safe.
But connecting the system to your home’s electrical network poses 2 important risks:
Risk 1 — Personal Injury
Any time you work with high voltage electricity, you face the possibility of electrocuting yourself — both during the installation process and at any time thereafter.
Because solar installation companies usually have licensed electricians on staff, you can dramatically reduce this risk by contracting a professional.
Risk 2 — Personal Liability
When you install solar panels yourself, you assume all legal responsibility for anything that happens, including fires, shocks, property damage, and falling panels.
When licensed contractors install your system, they assume most of the legal responsibility.
Home Solar Panel Kits Are Great, But. . .
As a weekend hobby, home solar panel kits are pretty appealing.
But for less money, you can have a professionally installed solar PV system that offers:
- higher energy output
- greater electricity bill savings
- a longer lifespan (sometimes 40 years or more)
- fewer legal hassles
- less risk of injury
For many Maryland, DC homeowners and businesses, the choice is easy. Why pay more for an inferior product when you could have an expertly installed solar PV system that delivers the above benefits?