Tempted to do-it-yourself solar? Read why you should reconsider.

DIY solar pros and cons; not what a good deal MIGHT seem.

If you do any reading about the solar energy industry you will likely find one of several ads about DIY solar: “Get your solar all on your own!”, “Construct your own solar panels”, “Go green and go there yourself!” and so on and so forth. It certainly sounds nice, after all who wouldn’t love to get into the green movement and save money while hardly spending a penny? However, this is exactly what false-promise sales marketing will rely upon you to think, and their kits for DIY solar are only half truths.  Really, if you must insist on going DIY, then why not hire an energy consultant to help you shop for the RIGHT equipment and analysis, and then accept an excellent referral for a reputable licensed installer to do the rest.  Hmmm.  This is exactly why I founded Sun Source Solar Brokers and solar broker energy consulting.  Get the DIY solar pros and cons here.

There are several reasons why DIY solar is simply a bad idea, among them the fact that direct current is NOT the same as alternative current, it’s likely not safety, and the response from the utilities.

Let’s take a look at each of these factors:

DC and AC- The energy produced by solar panels is in the form of direct current, or DC, whereas the energy that is produced for your home is alternating current, or AC, which frequently reverses polarity. Some of the devices and appliances won’t function any differently with DC, such as light bulbs, but many of the larger systems like air conditioning, television, computers, fridges, washers and dryers, etc. These are all designed to work with alternating current power, and using direct current will either harm them, or make no change whatsoever. And remember, these are the devices that for the most part comprise your utility bill. Even if a functioning DIY solar panel could be built, at the cost of $200, it will not bring down your bill at all. So these promises of hugely cut utility bills and savings are simply fallacies.

Safety: High quality solar panels which are available in the US must be approved by the Underwriters Laboratory to ensure safety. Considering that just one solar panel can generate unsafe levels of electricity, this seal of approval is there to provide you with peace of mind that for as long as this solar panel is operating, it will be same. The same thing simply cannot be said for a DIY solar panel. If the panel malfunctions it could start a fire, would your insurance cover it once they discover that this panel wasn’t approved by the Underwriters Laboratory like all other panels? Is this a feasible risk to take for dubious savings and claims anyway?
Utilities – If you want to bring down the cost of your utilities you would have to connect your DIY solar system to the standard utility grid. Before this can be done legally you must ensure that your system has an inverter that has the seal of approval from both the Underwriters Laboratory and the IEEE to fight what’s known as “islanding”. This feature of fighting islanding that is part of any inverter these days is crucially important, due to the fact that the a residential solar system inputted into the grid is essentially a miniature power plant connected in isolation from the other power plants of the utility. If a power line fails or goes down, a crew will be sent out by the utility to repair it. Before this happens, though, they will de-energize all the lines from that portion so they are safe to work on. However your panel cannot be isolated, and the fact that it’s still producing means that the power line is still hot, and if worked on would be deadly. This is why technology to fight islanding is a complete necessity for every inverter in a solar panel that’s tied to the grid. Building an inverter like this on your own is impossible, unless, say, you are an experienced technician or electrical engineer.

The ads for “DIY” solar for some reason always fail:

Absolutely we have a vested interest, that interest being to ensure that people get HIGH quality, SAFE, and TRUSTWORTHY solar power system. This isn’t a matter of losing sales, it’s about the entirety of solar energy possibly getting a bad reputation due to unethical information; trying to divorce people from their money with the hope of going solar, but without imparting the proper equipment, safety and performance protocols.


Article written by Jennifer Coleman of Sun Source Solar Energy Brokers, providing solar brokering, brokerage, and solar energy consulting services in Santa Rosa, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano and San Francisco Counties. For more information, please visit


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Sun Source Solar Brokers
525 East Cotati Avenue, #220
Cotati, California 94931