Your DIY Guide: How to Install Solar Panels on Your Roof

installing solar panels

Going solar isn't as complicated as it may sound. It does require some thought and consideration beforehand, but there's no reason why you can't make your home more energy efficient!

Not to mention, it's now easier to transition to solar power than it ever has been before. All you need is a bit of knowledge about why solar is so important and how to install solar panels in your home.

Keep reading for a simple 10-step guide to go from traditional energy to solar.

1. Get an Energy Assessment of Your Home

Before you start the grunt work, you have to do the proper assessments. Your home may be more energy-efficient than you think. Or, it could require just a few solar panels to run the whole house.

These aren't things you can determine through trial and error. They're details you need to know right off the bat and a professional energy assessment can help you understand what's really going on in your house.

This will break down your monthly energy bill into how much energy the appliances consume, how much the lights use, and how heating and cooling affect your energy rates. Take note of any opportunities you see to turn off more lights or invest in energy-efficient appliances. Such habits go hand in hand with switching to solar.

2. Take a Look at the Roof

Once you have a better idea of what's going on inside the house, you need to get on the roof. The thing about installing solar panels is that it doesn't always look the same. The shape, slope, and position of your roof will largely determine how the process goes.

Roofs with lots of variation between high points and flat areas aren't really ideal, and even those with room for solar panels may not receive the right amount of light necessary on the flat side. You have to identify the place on your roof with the most potential to provide you with solar power. This is the area with plenty of space to install each panel and the right amount of light to make them functional.

3. Research the Different Kinds of Solar Panels

Just as you need to find the right place on your roof for the panels, you have to take a second to consider what kind of panels you want. Solar energy isn't available through one standard piece of technology. There are various forms of panels and a handful of different systems to operate them on.

The most common solar power options for residential homes are:

  • Crystalline silicon
  • Monocrystalline
  • Polycrystalline
  • Thin-film solar panels

Each has their own advantages and disadvantages worth looking into. Be sure to compare the cost of all your options and the durability of each material, too.

4. Consider Other Solar Options

While you're researching the various kinds of panels you can put on your home, you may come across alternative ways to start using solar energy. These include things like using shared solar or investing in a solar lease.

The Shared Solar Approach

Community solar is when a group of people gets together to purchase one solar energy system. The system is in a position where all those involved in the purchase can use the energy for their home or business. This "group" can be you and your neighbors, but the owners can also be a utility company or a solar developer.

If you and your neighbors were to purchase one solar energy system, it would a little bigger than the one for your roof. But, the community purchase makes it more financially accessible and easier to maintain.

If you invest in community solar from a utility or solar development company, you're able to go green in a very hands-off manner. The large companies do most of the work while you enjoy the solar energy in your home.

How a Solar Lease Works

Leasing solar energy is kind of like using community solar from a business instead of a group of friends. When you lease, you get access to all the benefits of solar in your home without having to worry about installation or repairs.

Instead, a solar company charges you a fixed monthly payment for using their system. It's an affordable, simple solution to going solar that you don't have to stress over.

5. Make a Plan

The thing about using the alternative solar options mentioned above is that you can't really call it DIY. Sure, they allow you to start using solar instead of sticking to traditional energy, but you don't do much rather than pick up the phone, crunch some numbers, and enter a contract.

If you want to get your hands dirty a bit, you have to do the whole process yourself. If that's the case, you need to make a plan.

A proper solar installation doesn't happen from one day to the next - especially when you have work, family life, and other things in your life going on. Take the time to clear a few evenings and weekends in your calendar. The closer you can schedule all your "solar energy time" together, the better.

Factor in the time it will take to get all the materials ready to go, too.

6. Gather Materials

Speaking of gathering materials, keep in mind you need more than just solar panels to make your home run on solar energy. You will also need a controller, batteries, and an inverter. These are what allow the energy harnessed from the panels to turn into electricity for your home.

You can order all of the materials from one company or pick and choose your system. Be careful to overcomplicate the process, though, and don't plan to do any work until every piece of your project is delivered.

While you're gathering the items for your project, look into the additional benefits available if you haven't already. This is a good time to start filling out certain tax paperwork or learning how to sell excess solar energy.

7. Place the Brackets Down First

Get to work as soon as all your materials arrive. Put the brackets down first. These are the base for your solar panels; they support each panel and keep them secure no matter what.

Brackets can be made with planks of wood unless otherwise specified by solar panel manufacturers. How many brackets you make and how large they need to depend on the panels you buy, so double-check the dimensions when you purchase materials.

This should only take you an afternoon's worth of time to do. You can get it done on a Saturday and start the installation process on Sunday.

8. Put All the Panels on Your Roof

This is arguably the hardest part of the entire DIY installation process: getting the solar panels on your roof! They're not exactly items you can carry with one hand while climbing up a ladder. You're going to have to get creative about how you get each panel up without straining your body or damaging the materials.

Once they're all up there, though, the next part is simple. Put a panel in each bracket then check that each one is secure.

9. Connect and Secure Everything

When all the panels are in place you have to connect them to one another.

This requires some wiring know-how. It can seem a little complex if you've never dealt with electronics before, but it's easier than you think. Plus, once you connect two panels together, connecting the rest becomes a matter of repetition.

From there, take another look to make sure everything is in place as it should be. The last thing you want is for some wind or a bit of rain to come through and mess up all your hard work!

10. Set up the Controller and Inverter

Last but not least, get off the roof and connect the panels to the controller and inverter. It's good to hire a contractor or electrician to do this part.

The controller ultimately determines how the solar energy flows throughout your house, and you don't want to mess this up over some silly pride. Bring someone in to do all the wiring for you so you can be sure your solar power is working as best as it can.

Ask them to do the inverter, too.

How to Install Solar Panels: Get to Work!

You can read about the benefits of solar panels and how to install them all day long. But, until you get off the couch and start following the steps listed above, you won't be able to actually enjoy having solar panels power your home.

There's no time like the present to get started. Get an energy assessment for your home today then follow the guide on how to install solar panels step by step until completion.

You'll be glad you gave the project its due diligence once everything is in place and working well. For more home improvement tips from solar power and energy efficiency to lawn upgrades and decorating insights, click here.


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