DIY Home Solar: Planning a Solar Array (Beginner's Guide)


Step 8: Conclusion

Picture of Conclusion
We hope you've found this guide to be helpful and informative. Home solar energy isn't terribly complicated, and with government incentives, it isn't terribly expensive either. In the long run, you can save a lot of money on your energy bills, and even make money by selling power back to the utility company. Once you know the parts of a solar array, the entire process is much less intimidating - it's just a matter of adapting the formula to your specific situation. Stop by SolarTown.com for more learning articles, solar news stories, affordable solar modules and components, or if you have any questions for a solar expert. Thanks a lot for reading, and have fun with your solar project!

For the next part of our DIY home solar installation, visit the second piece on Instructables called (how to select the right solar rack)

Image Credits
All images shared under Creative Commons licenses.

I. Gray Watson http://256.com/solar/ cc by-sa
1. Oregon DOT http://www.flickr.com/photos/oregondot/3077175469/in/photostream/ cc by
2. Brendan Wood http://www.flickr.com/photos/brendanwood/2161236298/ cc by-sa
3. Clearly Ambiguous http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-45978012 cc by
4. Lauren Manning http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurenmanning/2205351010/ cc by
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6. MRBECK http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrbeck/2718357659/ cc by-nd
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shortw3 years ago
If i said cheap, I meant a good deal.
I actually found out as times goes on, that the panels are more cost effective now. In other words, they are cheaper per watt now then they where 1-2 years ago.
I also checked into making ' your own panels ', this is waste of your money and time. These homemade panels will fail in a very short time, since they are not sealed at all or not properly sealed.
A guy, 10 miles away from me went to do solar. After everything was done and approved, the power company changed his meter.
The meter will not go backwards, nor does he have a separate meter. If his household uses less power than the panels produce the meter will stop spinning, but he does not get credit nor does he get paid for the extra energy he is supplying to the net. He made many calls to the power company and government officials without any results. He even made a youtube about it.
Good luck with anything like this around here.
If I would do it around here, I would be doing without a building permit and I would not get it hooked up to the net. This would be the only good incentive for me around here. To much red tape in our state and county.
shortw5 years ago
I have found that the tax incentives cost you a lot of money. First off to qualify you have to get the most expensive panels and have a building permit. Your property tax will increase because of the added value. Tax incentives will be only good 'til 2015. Thinking about selling it to the utility company? You will get only 25% of the money if you sell it, than what you have to pay if you buy it from them. Also you need a 1million dollar bond for selling it. Batteries need maintenance and replacements. Solar panels are expensive per watt.
DIY Solar Jon (author)  shortw5 years ago

shortw, thanks for reading! It is true that the incentives come with some stipulations, but they are not so terrible. Let's take a look at the points you've brought up.
Panel cost: You do not need to splurge on "premium" panels - most panels are eligible, as long as you don't buy them used.
Taxes: In many states and cities (such as Virginia, where I live), tax exemption programs prevent your solar energy system from being counted as part of your taxed property value, and many townships will waive your building permit fee.
Reselling: This has a lot to do with where you live and who you buy your power from. TVA runs one of the largest buyback programs, so let's look at them as an example. TVA, in addition to providing a $1,000 bonus just for signing up, will pay you 12 cents above retail price for your energy - this is about double the price, not a quarter of it. Small, localized systems reduce a lot of strain on the grid and help the utility company build a greener image, so they are more than happy to buy energy from you at a premium.
Batteries: Most on-grid systems don't require them, but they are not annoying to deal with. AGM batteries require no maintenance and last around five years, while VRLA batteries require minimal maintenance and last for 20.
Going solar is expensive at first, but the incentive programs really do help with the cost - especially if you live in a solar-friendly state like California or Colorado. If you want to know more about incentives in your area, check out our article at http://www.solartown.com/learning/solar-panels/going-solar-what-are-the-economic-incentives. If you have any other questions, don't be afraid to ask!
I have been checking into solar panels for a while now, but could not find a place to buy them cheap. Thank you for the info.
Look here, there are a ton of instructables on building cheap solar panels, and they usually produce at least 75% of a ``premium`` one.

And they usually cost less than half.
mcruz-14 years ago
And what happen when is raining, doesn't affect the panels? or the connections?