DIY Solar Panels installation in Florida
I am a DIY kind of person and also have friends that are very handy when it comes to installing solar panels.
In order to cut costs for a home install, can you tell me what is the minimum that I need to hire in order to have a project gone through ? A master electrician is good enough ? Or do I need both a master electrician and a solar panel install especialist as well ? I feel that I can do the install myself with friends that have done the DIY by themselves on other states and only would need the master electrician to connect the PV wiring at the end.
Are there County pre-reqs also ? I am in Coral Springs, Broward County.
I appreciate your help with this question.
Installing solar panels in Broward County, Florida, or anywhere else, requires thorough understanding and adherence to local regulations, as well as a grasp on the technical aspects of the installation.
For a successful DIY, you need to break the process down exactly the way a professional installation company would.
Here are some key details and steps to consider if you're thinking about a DIY solar installation in Broward County:
1. **Research Local Regulations & Permits**:
- Before starting any installation, check with Broward County's Building Code Services Division. They have requirements for solar panel installations.
- Obtain necessary permits. Almost all solar installations require a building and electrical permit.
2. **Site Assessment**:
- Ensure your roof is in good condition and can bear the weight of the panels.
- Consider the orientation: In the Northern Hemisphere, south-facing roofs are optimal for solar energy production.
- Evaluate shade: Trees, buildings, or other obstructions can significantly reduce energy production. Some tools, like the Solar Pathfinder, can help assess shading throughout the year.
3. **Selecting Your Solar Panels and Equipment**:
- There are different types of solar panels like monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. Each has its pros and cons.
- Decide on the mounting system. There are several types, such as flush mounts, roof-ground mounts, or pole mounts.
- Choose an appropriate inverter. String inverters, microinverters, and power optimizers have distinct advantages and considerations.
4. **Sizing Your System**:
- Determine your energy needs by reviewing your electric bills or consulting with a solar professional.
- Solar energy production varies depending on location, panel tilt, orientation, and other factors. You'll need to calculate how many panels you need based on your energy needs and the average sun hours in Broward County.
- Ensure safety first. Working on roofs presents fall hazards. Also, be cautious when working with electrical components. This is where you will have to decide whether you and your friends have the technical know-how to safely go on the roof or open electrical panels.
- Install mounting hardware, ensuring it's securely anchored.
- Attach solar panels to the mounting hardware.
- Install the inverter.
- Complete the electrical wiring. Depending on your familiarity, you might need an electrician for this step.
- Connect your system to the grid, if it's a grid-tied system. This usually requires a licensed electrician.
6. **Inspections and Interconnection**:
- After installation, Broward County will likely require an inspection to ensure compliance with local codes.
- Your utility company will also need to inspect the system and approve it for interconnection to the grid.
- Once approved, you can commission your system and start generating solar power.
7. **Net Metering**:
- Florida has a net metering policy that allows homeowners to receive credit for excess electricity their solar panels produce, which is sent back to the grid. Check with your utility provider about their specific net metering terms and any required equipment (like a bi-directional meter).
8. **Insurance and Warranties**:
- Ensure your installation and equipment are covered by your home insurance.
- Keep track of equipment warranties. Solar panels typically come with a 25-year performance warranty, while inverters and other components have their own warranties.
- Solar panels require minimal maintenance but periodically checking for dirt, debris, and any damage helps ensure optimal performance.
10. **Consider Hiring Professionals**:
- Even if you're keen on a DIY approach, consulting with a solar professional or hiring a certified electrician for certain parts of the installation can save you time and potential headaches. Especially because you are making a major alteration to your house which is essentially a 25 year investment.
Lastly, it's important to stay updated with local regulations, incentives, and rebates, as they can change over time. The federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has historically provided a substantial tax credit for solar installations, but the specifics of this credit are subject to change. Always check the current status and eligibility requirements.
Thanks for your very comprehensible answer Michael.
They are all extremely important and it really helps.
I will have to hire a licensed electrician for sure. I am talking to some people but when I look for master electricians and solar panels on the internet, all I can find is solar companies calling back ;-) and I am trying to cut the middle man in this picture.
Also, talking directly with the manufacturer for the materials ( PVs, micro inverters, racking system, etc ).
In the end I just want to have a pitcure of the costs if I go with a DIY company, like Solar Warehouse, for instance, or Mona Lee which includes install, a local solar company, or do it myself with my experienced friend that has installed tons of sytems, ( not in florida ) and a master electrician.
I appreciate your response and I hope that response can help others that are in my position.
I believe going solar is a done deal, so, the question is who will do it ;-)
Thanks again for your help.