Can a layperson manage to tie a solar system into the grid without a pro's help?

Asked by Chris
Pompano Beach, FL

I'm interested to know if there's a DIY guide to installing solar power into the grid. Also, I'm curious to know if your house's electronics system can be attached to solar-supplied batteries and cut the grid out entirely?



Great questions.

I’ll start with the idea of a layperson connecting a home PV system to the electrical grid. You are dealing with two major jurisdictional issues with regards to connecting to the electrical grid.

  • First, you have the local code authority and secondly the local utility.
  • I doubt that any utility or local code authority will allow you to do the grid connection. I am talking about the actual connection to the grid, not the assembly and wiring of the PV system itself.
  • So, you might be allowed to build your own PV system and wire it to a point the final connection will need to be completed by a qualified, licensed and insured professional.

Constructing your own solar system

There are a variety of publications that can walk you through the process of building your own solar PV system.

There are also web sites (like this one) and videos (like this one) that can help you build your own solar photovoltaic panels.

Off the grid

It is entirely possible to remove your home from the grid and produce your own electrical power.

The only way to achieve this goal, cost effectively, is to reduce the electrical loads on your home.

  • PV and wind generated power can be stored in batteries for availability during periods of low wind or sun. 
  • Special ventilation and storage is required for batteries because of the explosive gases they produce during charging cycles.
  • Remember, PV films degrade resulting in a loss of production and wind is unpredictable.

Check with your local power company to verify the cost per kilowatt hour of electricity before determining if it is cost effective to make the switch. Even with subsidies using sun or wind may be cost prohibitive.

Safety first

Safety is more important than saving a few dollars.

Use a qualified electrician to help you install your project in a healthy and safe manner. It may save you money (and a lot of heartache) in the long run.



For more information:

Read Anthony Addesso's Q&A "I want to convert to solar energy. Where do I start?"

Tagged In: solar panels

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