Solar Panel Kits: The Pros and Cons

Solar Panel Kits: The Pros and Cons

Published 2/12/2024

Transforming your home to be powered by solar energy is becoming a good choice for more and more homeowners. Adding solar panels to your home may result in significant savings on your electricity costs over time. In addition to the potential savings you could get when switching to solar, you’re making an environmentally responsible decision by exploring solar options.

As solar energy becomes more accessible, you might be considering DIY solar panel kits. At Sunrun, America's #1 solar and battery provider, we focus on full-service installations rather than DIY solar kits. That said, we’re here to guide you through understanding all your solar options, helping you make an informed decision that suits your family’s solar power needs. This guide will delve into the advantages and considerations of both DIY and professional solar installations, ensuring you have the knowledge to choose the best route for your energy needs.

What are solar panel kits?

Solar panel system kits have all the components you need to get started harnessing the sun’s power and, consequently, generating electricity for your home. Complete solar kits are for those who want to take on the task of installing a solar panel system in their home. It offers a convenient way for DIY-ers to capture and use the sun's energy for their benefit.

Within the solar panel kit, you’ll find all the parts to get started on your project. There may be some variation from kit to kit, depending on the size of your home, etc. However, you will have all the needed basics to begin collecting energy from the sun. This includes items such as solar panels, hardware, wiring, and installation instructions.

Solar panel kits for homes are typically intended for smaller solar energy projects. Solar panel kits can vary in size and complexity, and their specific components depend on the manufacturer and the purpose of the kit.

Once your system collects the sun's energy, it can convert and transfer it into power usable for your home's needs.

How do solar panel systems work?

Regardless of whether you purchase a DIY solar panel kit or have your system professionally installed, a solar panel’s job is to collect and convert the sun's light energy into electricity. The panels consist of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which absorb energy generated by the sun. When this occurs, light is converted to direct current (DC) electricity. This is transmitted to an inverter, which converts it to alternating current (AC) electricity. AC electricity is the type used by your home and is compatible with the utility grid.

These series of actions result in making electricity flow from the solar panels to the home's electrical panel. Once it reaches the electrical system, it has the capability of powering your home’s appliances.

What is typically included in a solar panel kit?

Your solar panel kit will include several parts, each with its own important job — from catching sunlight to storing and changing that energy into something you can use. Getting to know what each part does will help you choose the right kit for your needs. Here's what you'll find in a solar panel kit:

Solar Panels

A solar panel kit isn't complete without the solar panels themselves, which are key to capturing the sun's energy. Typically, you'll find one of three types: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or thin film, each with its own efficiency in converting sunlight into electricity. Choosing a high-quality solar panel is crucial since it's the core of your system. Always opt for panels from trusted manufacturers to ensure the best performance and reliability.

Inverter

As previously discussed, solar panels collect the sun's energy as DC electricity. However, it needs to be converted to AC electricity to be used in your home. This is where the inverter comes into play. It takes the DC energy and inverts (or converts) it to AC energy to power your home's electricity needs.

Cables

Cables are another instrumental part of your kit. Without these, you couldn’t hook up all the necessary components. Ensuring you have the right cables will make the job go smoother. They should be high quality and durable as well.

Mounting hardware

Solar panel system kits need to be mounted in the appropriate way using special hardware to secure the panels and ensure your roof stays watertight. Some of the hardware includes rails, splices, end clamps, mid clamps, and L-feet.

Solar battery

Think of a solar battery as an optional, but very useful addition to your solar panel system, especially when your local power grid experiences an outage. To pick the right solar panel and battery combo, you'll need to consider your home's size, how much energy you typically use, and which appliances are crucial for you to backup in the event of a grid outage.

Should you choose home solar panel and battery kits?

If you are considering adding solar panels to your home, you’re likely aware of the many benefits but wonder if you should tackle this task on your own. Before leaping into installing a solar power system, it’s best to weigh the pros and cons of doing so.

Pros

Potentially lower upfront cost: Choosing a DIY solar panel kit can significantly reduce the initial investment required to go solar, potentially shortening the time it takes to recoup your investment through energy savings. It’s worth noting that with Sunrun, homeowners can go solar with a professionally installed Sunrun system for as little as $0 down, so getting a solar panel kit isn’t the only way to potentially save.

Learning and personal achievement: Immersing yourself in the world of renewable energy could offer a unique sense of personal accomplishment and offers a valuable learning experience. 

Flexibility with timing: With a DIY solar kit, you have the freedom to work on your project whenever it fits into your schedule. There’s no need to coordinate with a professional installer's availability, which means you can progress at your own pace. 

Energy Independence: If you’re interested in starting your journey towards energy independence on a smaller scale, solar panel kits are a good option for powering a shed, RV, or boat.

Cons

Safety risks: Working on a roof is uniquely hazardous. In fact, residential roofing ranks as one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S.1. Without specialized safety gear like harnesses, roof anchors, and hardhats, and the expertise of a seasoned electrician, the risk of accidents, injuries, or even electrical fires increases significantly. Our team at Sunrun prioritizes safety by equipping our professionals with the necessary training and safety equipment to mitigate these dangers.

Permitting and regulation compliance: Navigating the permitting process and ensuring your solar panel system complies with local building codes and electrical regulations can be challenging. In fact, in many states electrical work can only legally be done by a licensed electrician. And completing work without a permit may open up the homeowner to additional liability. Professional installers are familiar with these requirements and typically handle all necessary permits and inspections as part of their service, reducing the burden on the homeowner.

Quality and efficiency: Professional installers have the experience and knowledge to optimize the placement and installation of solar panels for maximum efficiency and durability. A DIY installation may not achieve the same level of performance, potentially resulting in lower energy production and longer payback periods.

Roof damage: Next to the significant safety concerns of installing a DIY system, roof damage is the next most common drawback installing a solar system yourself. Even a small roof leak can easily cost homeowners more to repair than they would save going DIY. And without a professional warranty, the homeowner would be responsible for covering those repair costs.

 Warranty and support issues: Many solar panel manufacturers and home insurance policies may require professional installation as a condition of warranty coverage. DIY installations might void warranties or lead to difficulties in claiming support or replacements if something goes wrong. Additionally, professional installers often offer their own warranties on workmanship, adding an extra layer of protection for homeowners. Part of the Sunrun solar crew’s core expertise is ensuring a watertight installation for the life of each system.

Resale value impact: While solar panels generally increase a home's value, a DIY installation might not have the same positive impact as a professional job. Homebuyers may be wary of the quality and reliability of a non-professionally installed system, which could affect the resale value or attractiveness of your home. Sunrun has successfully completed thousands of solar panel service transfers, and we guarantee that the new owners will qualify for our solar services.

Choosing to have your solar panels installed by professionals, such as the team at Sunrun, is a smart move. Sunrun guarantees high-quality installation and provides guidance during each step in your transition to going solar. This expert approach takes the guesswork out of the process and delivers peace of mind, making it a far better option than navigating a DIY solar panel kit on your own.

We also help ensure that you’re able to take advantage of the potential savings in terms of local, state, and federal tax incentives. If you choose the Sunrun monthly solar lease, we handle the paperwork and pass along certain savings to you in the form of an affordable monthly rate.

Get a professionally installed solar panel system for as little as $0 down

At Sunrun, our expert Solar Advisors guide you through the complexities and details of solar for your home—from understanding your energy bills, to sizing your ideal system, and more. 

As the nation's #1 home solar & battery installer, we provide dedicated support from initial system design to powering on your system. Our personalized approach ensures that you make the right decisions about system size, enabling you to harness the full potential of solar energy without the stress. Start with a free, personalized quote.


Sources:

  1. US Bureau of labor statistics

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