Home Improvement

Is DIY Solar Legal? Unpacking the Rules and Regulations

Install Your Own Solar Panels

Say your prayers, fossil fuels. The days of cheap coal and gas energy are over. Already, green energy — such as solar — is cheaper.

Alas, while solar is cheaper, the upfront costs don’t make it seem that way. Purchasing the panels and installing them can cost thousands of dollars, easily. It begs the question: Is it legal to install your own solar panels and save some money?

Read on as we look at the legality of solar panel installation and the pros and cons of doing it yourself.

The Cost of Going Solar

Make no mistake, there are a ton of solar incentives for the average homeowner to pull the trigger on a solar system. A solar system not only creates free energy, but it may create a surplus. You can then install a battery array and have 24/7 free, green energy.

If you don’t want a battery, then that excess won’t go to waste. You can sell the surplus back to the grid, pocketing money instead of paying an energy bill.

And best of all? The government will subsidize your purchase. Both federal and state incentives knock off upwards of $7,500 a pop in tax write-offs.

That said, the real problem is that the upfront cost comes all at once. Data from the current year suggests that it can cost about $20,000 to go solar. It’s for this reason, despite all the incentives, that some see the appeal of solo installations.

Is It Legal to Install Your Own Solar Panels?

Luckily, the answer is short and sweet: yes! Regulations and building codes aside, you can buy and bolt on some shiny new panels with your own two hands.

However, that “yes” comes with a huge asterisk. Premier residential solar installation costs what it does because the people installing panels are professionals. Going on without their expertise means you have your work cut out for you.

Pros of DIY Solar Installation

To be clear, this job will be incredibly difficult and require a ton of research, free time, and financial risk. Still, the DIY route is a worthwhile one if you have the patience and the mettle.

Reduced Cost

Going with the $20,000 figure from before, at least half of that will be the solar installation alone. That’s right, the solar panels themselves will cost $8,500 on the low end, with the average being $12,700. You could be paying upwards of $30,000 for your panels if required, with an increasing installation cost.

Shaving $10,000 off the installation is nothing to laugh at. You’re effectively cutting the cost of a used vehicle in exchange for some time and effort.

A Job Well Done

The roof is an expensive part of your home, so letting contractors onto it presents a risk. Everyone has heard the horror stories of contractors with jobs gone wrong. “Professionals” who make costly blunders or leave you with a mess.

As the saying goes, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” Take your property into your own hands if you’d rather not trust a stranger.


One of the great things about doing the job yourself is that you know exactly how you did it. You know the idiosyncrasies of the installation, the quirks, and the shortcomings. If something goes wrong later, you know how to fix it.

Compare that to a job done by somebody else. Fixing it could be a nightmare. You’ll have to reverse engineer their handiwork and hope you don’t make things worse in the process.

Cost-Cutting for Professional Work

Some parts of the solar installation are best left to the professionals. If you install them yourself, you can skip any complicated stuff — like wiring — and just do the mounting. Then you hire an electrician to finish the job and save big on those installation costs.

Cons of DIY Solar Installation

There are good reasons to bite the cost and stick with a local solar panel provider. Here are some reasons you shouldn’t take care of things yourself.

Your State May Impose Restrictions

Note that we said the installation was legal, not necessarily that you can do it at will. Today, there are no federal restrictions against insulation. State regulations, though, are a whole different matter.

Take, for example, Texas, where anyone who installs solar panels must have a TECL (Texas Electrical Contractor’s License). In other states, you may need this and association membership or certification. Some states require NABCEP or SRCC’s blessing before you can hook up to the grid.

Getting these licenses and certifications may not be cheap. It may take several months of courses and testing. Other obstacles, such as a right-of-way permit, may rear their ugly heads, too.

Electricity Is Dangerous

Green energy is great for our planet, but that doesn’t make it harmless. Solar panels are capable of producing enough direct current to supply an entire home and then some. They are more than capable of electrocuting you.

There’s a reason we make electricians go through rigorous qualification courses. Something as simple as connecting the wrong wires can cause a neighbourhood blackout. Not knowing what you’re doing could end with you getting injured — or much worse.

It’s Labor-Intensive and Delicate

Solar panels are heavy and incredibly fragile. All it takes is some butter fingers for your $10,000 investment to break irreparably on the front drive. Carrying the solar panels up to the roof and mounting them takes a team of men an entire day or more for a reason.

You are definitely going to have to recruit family or friends to help. You may need to hire laborers, too.

Mistakes May Be Costly

Imagine, for example, that you install the wrong type of solar inverter. This is a component that can cost several hundred dollars alone. You may not be able to return it, forcing you to buy another.

Even though it is expensive to pay for installation, it comes with experience that prevents these and other mistakes.

Get Solar Panels Today

Is it legal to install your own solar panels? Yes, and the reason you’d want to do so primarily has to do with cost. Keep in mind, however, that DIY installations will prove incredibly difficult, time-consuming, and stressful.

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Written by
Cosmo Jarvis

Cosmo Jarvis is a multi-talented artist excelling in various creative realms. As an author, his words paint vivid narratives, capturing hearts with their depth. In music, his melodies resonate, blending genres with finesse, and as an actor, he brings characters to life, infusing each role with authenticity. Jarvis's versatility shines, making him a captivating force in literature, music, and film.

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