Solar panel prices keep falling year after year, with hardware costs more than 80% lower than what they were in 2008.
But whereas solar “hard costs” keep trending downwards, “soft costs” continue to remain relatively stable. When you contract a professional to install your panels, a large chunk of your spending goes towards these soft costs, such as the cost of labour.
This is why so many believe that do-it-yourself (DIY) solar is cheaper. After all, your only real expense is the home solar kit. You can save a fortune on the extra soft costs.
It’s true that you do save some money upfront. And when you install your own panels, you still enjoy many of the same benefits as everyone else, including:
- Lower monthly electricity bills
- A smaller carbon footprint
But despite these advantages, DIY solar isn’t cheaper. At best, you’re leaving money on the table. At worst, you’re actually overpaying in the long run.
Let’s take a look.
DIY Installations and UK Solar Incentives
At first glance, the United Kingdom has some of the worst weather imaginable for solar power generation. And yet, our country ranks among the top 10 solar hotspots worldwide. Already, 500,000 homeowners have installed panels on their own properties.
How does one explain the UK’s solar dominance?
It ultimately comes down to our country’s supportive green policies. The United Kingdom has a range of local and national subsidies designed to help you go solar as affordably as possible. The government desperately wants you to invest in clean energy generation. The more of us who feed solar electricity into the grid, the less fossil fuel we must import and burn.
Although anyone can install solar panels, you will need a MCS accredited solar panel installer to install your system if you wish to qualify for the Feed-in Tariff. The Feed-in Tariff (FiT) is a financial incentive from the government that allows you to monetise your solar electricity, by earning a specified amount on every unit of electricity you generate and a further amount on every unit of electricity you export to the grid.
Aside from electricity bill savings, the FiT allows your solar panel system to payback for itself and earn you a profit over the long run. If you wish to install your own solar panels, that’s fine, but you will be unable to benefit from this lucrative incentive.
DIY Solar and Optimal Energy Generation
There’s another reason why DIY solar is a bad idea. When you do the installation yourself, it’s much harder to maximise the energy generation potential of your rooftop:
- MCS accredited installers use MCS certified products in their installations, which ensures a minimum standard for your system’s performance, reliability and quality. With DIY solar kits, there are no such standards and you must do your own research to ensure you do not get duped into buying substandard products.
- Equally important, the installation must be optimised for many factors that significantly affect system performance, such as shading, pitch, orientation, transmission losses – variables that only experienced professionals are trained to optimize for.
Going solar is an investment. And although DIY kits carry lower upfront costs, they typically deliver much lower returns. By going the professional route, you’re able to generate more solar electricity per square meter – and enjoy a much higher ROI.
Is There a Cheaper Way to Go Solar?
If you’re goal is to reduce upfront costs, there’s actually a cheaper way to go solar.
You can always lease your panels instead of buying them. With this approach, you receive a brand-new solar installation for free (which is even cheaper than DIY). You only pay for the clean electricity that your rented panels produce. You’ll still have lower bills and a smaller carbon footprint. But solar leases allow you to remove both hardware and software costs completely from the equation.
To learn more, request a free solar property inspection today.