Homemade Solar Power Intertie System – What You Must Know Before You Do Your Own Solar Power Install
Homemade solar power projects vary in size and complexity. Certain jobs, like installing solar lighting or building a solar power fountain, are very safe, simple and straightforward, and can be handled by the greenest of DIYers. Conversely, installing a grid-tie system in your home is the most dangerous and exacting solar power project you can undertake.
The paperwork is utterly indecipherable at points, the steps to install are slow and methodical, and since extensive wiring is involved, this can be a truly deadly affair. If you are one of those hands-on types and want to make your own solar power without help, you can still involve yourself in the grid-tie project as a helper or supervisor, but the sound advice here is to employ a professional electrician with grid-tie experience to ensure proper installation and maximum energy production and savings.
If you like, you can still buy the homemade solar power hardware yourself and save the contractor's inevitable markup. But be careful here. Web browsing for the lowest price will almost guarantee little or no service after the sale, and can be a sign of product problems as well. And since you have to pay up front, and solar products are in short supply, you're possibly going to be out of your money and waiting for the product for several months. This may just make letting the contractor buy the parts more attractive.
But if you do make the purchase yourself, choose a supplier that will provide schematics of your system and the install. Did you know that most city and county inspectors won't issue you a work permit for your homemade solar power plans without one? They are also very handy, telling you exactly what gauge wire to use where, and clearly laying out your build plan. And no schematic means no rebate. You will also need support in the form of e-mail or, most favorably, telephone contact. Only deal with retailers who guarantee a 3 to 4 week delivery wait, and get testimonials where possible.
When going all-the-way with a whole house intertie system, consider the “self-install” penalty clause that some of the bigger rebate programs employ. This is to keep all the contractors and solar industry insiders from claiming all the funds set aside for the rebates given when you make your own solar power. Simply another attractive reason to hire out the install, even if you are a contractor yourself. That extra 15% is nice, and it puts the burden of the paperwork on someone else's shoulders.
However, handling the mountain of paperwork is a cinch if you just follow one of the many homemade solar power intertie system guides available online. You simply download and fill in the blanks, but make sure the guide you purchase has a help desk or telephone customer service. If you don't understand something, you can reach out and touch someone for an answer. But be forewarned, fill out everything and then check and re-check your numbers. These programs handle all the filing for you, and they have tons of customers. It is not uncommon to wait three months to find out if you crossed every “T” and dotted every “I”. Then the process starts all over. Like the carpenters old tome, “Measure twice cut once,” you want to get this right the first time.
And here is a tip that can save you loads of frustration with this paperwork-heavy homemade solar power project. FedEx your paperwork. DO NOT FAX IT! If they misread a number on your form due to a shoddy fax machine, you are back to square one. And FedEx can provide confirmation of delivery (COD) as well. The extra $10 spent here can be a lifesaver if your application is “lost”, and you can produce your COD. And a little lesson that you should employ with any home improvement project, copy everything and store in a safe place.
It also is strongly advised that you get at least two estimates before you begin to make your own solar power a reality, even if you are handling your own install. You might run across some things you didn't think of, and can learn quite a bit that can help you later. And if at all possible, find someone local who has a system like you are planning on installing. There is absolutely no substitution for putting your hands and eyeballs on a working unit, and this step alone could save you valuable time and money on this and any other homemade solar powerproject you undertake.