For several years, I have toyed with the idea of installing my own solar array. In that time, I have done a lot of reading and research. I have eyed systems on Amazon, Wholesalesolar, and Ecodirect. I finally purchased 4 panels after getting bids from several places and installed them on my roof. This was my "pilot" project. A proof-of-concept to show my wife that it wasn't that difficult, I could do it, and it would save money.
I finally convinced her it would be a worthwhile project to add 24 ground-mount panels in late fall of 2016 because 1) The $2000 state tax credit has a high likelihood of getting phased out in 2017, 2) I found a very reasonably priced source for panels and inverter, and 3) February is close, so the tax credits would be received with the tax return in just a few months.
I outline the steps I followed here in case others can benefit from lessons learned.
This kind of project is not for everyone. You are dealing with high voltages and/or currents. Things have to be designed and installed correctly as there is a risk of damage to property and lives. I am an electrical engineer and I have a brother-in-law, co-workers, and a beekeeper friend who are electricians. This is not a requirement, but was very helpful. The equipment used must be UL-listed and meet building code requirements. The power company requires a building permit to ensure everything is done correctly. For example, a back-feeding inverter could electrocute a power company employee working to repair downed power lines. If you are a DIYer, have your plans reviewed by someone who knows what they are doing!
Another excellent Instructable on the basics (a little more generic than mine) is located at https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Home-Solar-Pl...
If you like my project, please Vote for it!
If you are interested in pursuing a project and would like to speak to my "solar guy", send me a private message through Instructables and I will pass on his contact info.
I had considered adding more panels to my roof. I even laid out how many and where my panels would go. But there are disadvantages to filling up your roof with panels (replacing shingles). There are advantages to a ground-mount system -- snow removal is easy and by utilizing a manual tilting system, my "solar guy" says I can produce 1 MegaWatt more per year than a similar roof-mounted system. This would require manually changing the angle several times a year - 0 degrees in summer, ~30 degrees in spring and fall, and 60 degrees in the winter (for Utah).
The disadvantages to a ground mount system as I saw at the time were the distance involved, which increased the voltage drop and required larger wires and additional cost. I would also need to trench ~400 feet.