How Does the DIY Option Work? What Equipment is Included?

One of the best ways to increase your solar ROI and lower the cost of your solar project is to install your system yourself. This can also be a great option for customers who don't yet have installers in their area.

This article will outline the process for do-it-yourself (DIY) customers.

  1. Finalizing a Design
  2. Plans and Permits
  3. Equipment - What's Included?
  4. Installation
  5. Inspection, PTO, and Activation

1. Finalizing a Design

Important note: some jurisdictions will not permit DIY installs. For this reason, we do not offer DIY in some areas, including the state of New Mexico.

The first step for a DIY project is the same as any solar project--we need to finalize a design.

Prior to making a deposit, our Customer Experience specialists offer information, answers to questions, quotes, and basic designs free of charge. To get in touch, message us directly on Instagram/Facebook, use the chat bubble on our website, or email support@projectsolar.com.

After making a deposit, our team will help you finalize your system design, and we will also collect the information and photos that our engineers use to draw up the structural and electrical plans for your system. 

Once you've submitted all the required information and decided on a design, we'll draw up a contract for your system and present it to you for signing. 

 

2. Plans and Permits

After you've signed your contract, we'll move your project to the back-end stages of the solar process: engineering, permitting, installation, etc. For more information on these steps, you can check out our article on The Post-Contract Process.

Even with DIY projects, Project Solar will take care of drawing up engineering plans and coordinating with your jurisdiction for approval. This process can take a few weeks, as each jurisdiction has different policies and processing times.

A bill of materials, showing all the equipment included with your system, is created after your plans are approved, and is available upon request.


3. Equipment - What's Included?

We provide the majority of the equipment for your solar install, shipped directly to the project location. The equipment provided through Project Solar will include the following:

  • Solar panels
  • Microinverters & microinverter hardware
  • AC disconnect
  • Meter socket (if needed)
  • Enphase combiner box
  • Rails & rail hardware
  • Footings
  • Rooftop junction box

Currently, we're sourcing IronRidge racking/railing
Enphase IQ8+ microinverters, and Q-CELLS 400W panels (depending on exact location).

 

Balance of System

With Full Service Install projects, other system components--called "Balance of System" items--are sourced by our partnered installer. Since DIY projects are done without a partnered installer, these components will need to be provided by the customer.

Balance of System items include: 

  • Copper grounding wire
  • Conduit wire and piping 
  • Combiner box breakers and main panel breakers
  • Small items such as wire nuts, grommets, extra sealant, etc.
  • Tools, drill bits, harnesses, and other safety gear

 

4. Installation

After your equipment has been delivered, you can begin the installation of your system. Project Solar provides instructional materials, including some video guides.

However, DIY instructions may not currently contain specifics for some flat roof installations. We are working on expanding our instructional material for these types of projects.

If you have questions or concerns during install, Project Solar provides install support via phone.

We do not offer DIY install support for Enphase batteries, and Enphase requires the installer of the battery to obtain a certification before commissioning the equipment. Battery installation can be difficult, especially with these batteries weighing over 150 lbs.

Our other storage option, the portable Power Bank 2000, is more user-accessible, and may be a better fit for your DIY project. 

The only part of a standard solar installation that deals with live wires is the grid tie, where your system is connected to the main power grid. Most homeowners hire a handyman or electrician for this step of the project. 

For a basic idea of the DIY solar installation process, check out these blog posts:
"Installing Solar in 4 Basic Steps"
"How to Install Solar Panels"

 

5. Inspection, PTO, and Activation

Before switching it on and producing power, your system will need to be inspected to make sure everything is installed safely and correctly. We'll schedule this inspection with your jurisdiction. 

After your system has passed inspection, we'll then apply for Permission to Operate (PTO) from your power company. Then, once this is granted, an Activation Specialist will reach out to help you turn on your system and begin generating clean energy!

 

 

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