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.
- Finalizing a Design
- Plans and Permits
- Equipment - What's Included?
- Inspection, PTO, and Activation
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 Support Team offers information, answers to questions, quotes, and basic designs free of charge. To get in touch with them, message us directly on Instagram/Facebook, use the chat bubble on our website, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
After making a deposit, you will be paired with an Onboarding Specialist who will help you finalize your design.
Your Onboarding Specialist 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 to sign.
Plans and Permits
After you've signed your contract, we'll move you to the back-end stages of the 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 while, 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.
We will ship your equipment directly to your home, and packing lists will be included with material shipments. We require payment prior to equipment shipment for DIY projects.
Equipment - What's Included?
We provide the majority of the equipment for your solar install. 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
- rooftop junction box
Currently, we're sourcing IronRidge racking/railing,
Enphase IQ8+ microinverters, and Q-CELLS 400W panels (depending on exact location).
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
After your equipment has been delivered, you can begin the installation of your system. We provide 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 300 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 solar installation process, check out these blog posts:
"Installing Solar in 4 Basic Steps"
"How to Install Solar Panels"
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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