6 self made solar panel diy system

I Installed a Power Plant Myself HUGE DIY Solar Panel System

For more than 10 years, I dreamed of getting solar panels on my house, I dreamed that they would reduce my electric bills to zero. I dreamed about the efficiency, they just sit there and make power and have extremely low maintenance. I had solar jealousy whenever I drove by a house that had all those years, it had never seen financially worth it to me. But all that changed when I made a big decision to do something myself.


Hi, I’m Reese, and I’m going to put solar panels on this roof, I decided I would overcome my fears and design and install the system myself. And though I almost knew nothing about how to install solar, I was determined to learn and make our home net zero. I documented this whole journey. And I want to show you how I did it. And some of the most helpful tips I learned along the way. Doing this project myself was very rewarding. But it was also challenging. I had three main roadblocks when I first started out. The first one was, was this going to be worth it financially. The second roadblock was I had no idea what I was doing.


This is the first time I’d ever installed a solar panel system. I didn’t have any friends that did it. But I realized I have the internet. And I can always ask more questions for help. But the third roadblock was fear. I was afraid of drilling holes in my roof that would leak later on, I was afraid of falling off the roof, I was afraid of messing things up so badly that I’d have to hire someone to go fix it. And I should have done that in the first place. So I could overcome my fears. And I could ask people questions and look on the internet for answers, I can figure that stuff out. But was it worth it financially? Let me show you quickly how I figured that out.


So I measured my roof and I looked up standard solar panel sizes, and I took a guess as to how many I could fit. Using the app on my phone, I got the angle of my roof. And I use the Compass app to give me the direction that my house faces. And I put that information into a free program called PVWatts to get a rough estimate of what my system could produce. And I compare this number with my yearly electrical bill for the past three years to make sure it would be enough. So with this estimate, if I fill my roof with solar, I should have no electric bills for the next 25 plus years. And I’d guess that I have initial payback of about five to seven years, and a return on investment close to 14%, which I think is better than the stock market historical average.


So financially, this was worth it to try and do this project. So the next step in the journey is to get the building permit and the electrical code permit and buy all the stuff. So I walk into the office and I hit my first roadblock to get the building permit. I’m looking at this form, and I don’t know where to put solar. So I made my own box and checked it and it got approved the next day. Next was the electrical code permit. This is the 16 page application I turned in and it has all the details for the install.


Now thankfully, I was able to use an online program that produces this document, because I wouldn’t know how to make something this professional on my own. And in case you’re worried if you can do this, I couldn’t figure out how to use the program to make the diagram that I needed of the electrical components. So I just crossed it out. And I drew it in with pencil and paper and it got approved. But really the hardest thing with this permit was figuring out what my physical and electrical design was going to be. I had to research the National Electric Code and learn about things like how many amps can go down a certain type of wire, how many wires can fit in a certain type of conduit? Am I using aluminum or copper wire and things like how to tie into the grid. And this is why I love the internet and the people who are willing to help.


But it didn’t take some time poring through forums and websites watching videos and tracking now people who can answer my questions. And if you’re interested in solar, I’d like to help change that whole process. I created a beginner’s guide to getting solar that you can download for free. In that guide. I cover things like how you can check if solar might be financially worth it for you what the various parts are and what they do. And some other helpful tips. You can check it out up here or in the comment section below.


One of the biggest decisions I needed to figure out was what brand of solar panel I was going to use, because my goal was to reduce my electric bill to zero. And I figured if I’m going to go to this much trouble, I want as many kilowatts up there as I could get. When I measured my roof and I looked up solar panel sizes, I realized I might have a problem though. See not all solar panels are the same size. But the typical sizes that are out there would only allow me to get two rows on a main roof.


But fortunately, after some searching, I was able to find highly rated Panasonic panels that it was able to buy on a closeout sale. And this let me get three rows in with a few inches to spare on the top and the bottom of my roof. Next I had to choose how I was going to convert DC which is direct current to AC alternating current so that I can power my house and feed excess power to the grid. I ended up choosing a system made by solar edge. It uses something called a power optimizer that’s connected to a central inverter, which is the thing that converts to AC. You get one power optimizer per panel, and they individually manage the output of the panels to give you the best efficiency.


And it also allows me to monitor the output of each panel which is pretty cool. Solar edge has some great tools on the website that I use to figure out which inverters I needed for the layout I wanted to clean look so that from the The ground you wouldn’t notice any wires or conduit, I wanted it to look like a sheet of level glass up there. In order to minimize the conduit, I use these weatherproof junction boxes made by solar deck that sit underneath the panels.


This let me run a short segment of conduit straight down into the garage to the two inverters. I spray painted it white to match the setting and hopefully make it less noticeable. Next, I had to figure out how I was going to tie into the power grid, there are basically two places where you can do a grid tie system, you can feed into your breaker panel or you can go directly into your meter, I would have too many amps for my breaker panel, so I had to go right into the meter. So I had to figure out how I would get from the garage to the middle back of the house. And I decided to punch a hole through this unused chimney and hang the fused safety switch on the wall next to the meter.


So now I have everything I need. I know the panel’s the layout, the inverters, where the wires and conduits are going to go and how I’m going to tie into the grid, I take all of that information, put it in the program, and his permit ready document gets spit out, which is really cool. I also had to get a structural engineers approval to submit with the electrical permit, I use an online company and it was pretty easy. You send them photos of your roof trusses, and some details about your roof. And within a day or two, they send you back a stamped approval letter. And finally I had one more form to fill out. And that was the interconnection form to get permission from the power company. So I could tie into the power grid and get credit for when my panels produce more than what I need. So all the applications are approved and everything was purchased.


And now the big arrival day. Honestly, I was a little nervous. I’d written a big check. And mostly the equipment’s coming on this one truck. It was fun to see everything getting unloaded on the various pallets. One of the pallets came from the factory with 40 solar panels stacked up on it. And I’m amazed that the ones on the bottom don’t suffer any damage with all of that weight on top of it. And apart from the forklift strike on the one panel, which the driver actually pointed out to me, everything turned out great. In many rooftop solar installations.


The panel’s rest on aluminum rails, and those rails are attached to a mount that helps those rails in the panel stay above the roof, and that mount is attached to a flashing which is meant to keep water away from any holes underneath. And so the first thing that I need to do is install the mounts. Now on my roof, I needed to do some work and put new shingles on so I hired a guy while I work to install the mounts. He was cool with this arrangement and he even helped me put them in with the shingles removed we use the chalk line to mark where the roof trusses where and where the mounts needed to go horizontally. When the roofer got the shingles up to that one spot.


He stopped we put the mounts in and he kept going until we got to the next spot. To install the flashing and these mounts, you need to drill a hole into your roof truss, fill it with roofing caulk and use this large bolts to hold it down. One thing I was really worried about with drilling these holes was leaks later on. But while I was up there working, I realized this guy behind me is putting in 1000s of holes in my roof right now and I’m not worried about those. And I’m filling in each hole with roofing caulk. So yeah, it’s not going to leak.


After the mounts are installed, then you attach the rails. Then you use splice to join all those rail segments together to form one long rail. It was a bit of a challenge to do the next step of getting the rails squared and leveled, especially for those long rails. My roof has a lot of dips in it. So I used string and made level adjustments to ensure that those rails would all be on the same plane. The next step was wiring, I ordered most of my wire online. And I’d say this process wasn’t too difficult. I just followed the instructions on the various manuals, and I did what was printed on the electrical permit. One of those wires was the ground wire, I had to bend it in such a way that it doesn’t touch the aluminum rails, except that the connectors, and this works to keep all of the metal parts on the roof grounded.


For all the wires that would be under the panels, I use the cable management clips made by iron Ridge, but I didn’t feel like that was going to be enough. I really wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t have to remove a panel later on in order to deal with a loose wire that was laying on the shingles.


So I think I used about a million zip ties, but they were cheap, and they brought a lot of peace of mind after installing the power optimizers. The solar panels themselves are next. And it was pretty straightforward to putting them in the positive and negative connectors from each panel simply click into place. And then there are two bolts torque to a specific setting on each side holding the panels down.


And after all of them were installed, I trimmed off the excess railing the wiring inside of the garage was satisfying to work on. And once I pulled the long wires from the production meter, all alongside the backside of the house to the safety switch, I was ready to connect to the grid. For these last connections, I hired an electrician because this is the part I definitely didn’t want to do by myself. The power company turned off the power going through the house and my electrician installed these special meter taps that I gave him. These are direct replacements for the stock ones except they have a spot for a second connection. And this is where the solar ties in.


The way this works is that when the solar array is generating the power goes into the house, if it’s an excess of what I need, then it flows through the electric company’s meter to the grid and I get credit for it. So With everything installed and wired up, it was time for the electrical inspection, which I was a little nervous about. But the inspector came and he looked everything over. And he found that there were no corrections needed. In fact, he showed how impressed he was.


And he said this was professional work. And he would consider me a professional for any future installs. And boy that was really encouraging to hear. So at this point, I still need to test the system and get final approval from the power company before I can send electricity to the grid, and see how my predictions panned out. But before I get to that, let me know if you have any questions, or if you’re thinking about getting solar in the comment section below.


And if you’re thinking about getting solar and want some competitive quotes, then I highly recommend you check out drone quote, they have a great model where you give them some information about your house and electrical needs, they send a drone out to get footage of your roof.


And they pull that all together to give you multiple installer quotes. And it’s totally free for you. I know one of the owners and I become an affiliate for them. So if you want to help support the channel and get free solar quotes, check out drone quote link below. i Let’s get this solar system turned on. So I have to pull this switch from the off to the opposition to connect to the grid.


Alright, let’s go see how that I can’t operate my system normally yet, because I need final approval from the utility but I can test it out. And you can see here that the inverters are initializing and they have to send all those micro inverters and it’s picked up 18. So far on this particular inverter, and over here on the production meter, things are starting off at zero, and I’m looking forward to the first of many kilowatt hours to be produced.


So how did my system turn out after the inspector and the power company gave final approval, the last piece was waiting for this bidirectional meter. The power company installed this meter a few days after inspection, and it keeps track of what I’ve sent to the grid.


If you can see here, there’s two numbers. There’s a 402 number and a 401 number. It keeps track of how much power I’ve drawn from the grid and how much I’ve given back it was so rewarding to know that I installed a power plant myself and everything’s been working great.


It’s been over a year since it was turned on and we’ve had no electric bills from day one. In fact, because of renewable energy credits, were actually making a little bit of money every month. So from this point on, I do plan to make some more videos on solar, but I’ll be looking for your ideas on what to do in the comment section below. So please let me know



Our Previous & Other Posts in these series:

  1. https://vanilla.energy/news/2022/12/08/the-truth-about-solar-panels/
  2. https://vanilla.energy/news/2022/12/07/it-happened-perovskite-solar-cells-finally-hit-the-market/
  3. https://vanilla.energy/news/2022/12/07/i-installed-a-power-plant-myself-huge-diy-solar-panel-system/
  4. https://vanilla.energy/news/2022/12/07/solar-power-system-for-home-ultimate-beginners-guide/
  5. https://vanilla.energy/news/2022/12/07/how-do-solar-panels-work-physics-of-solar-cells/
  6. https://vanilla.energy/news/2022/12/07/diy-solar-setup-easy-to-follow-step-by-step-instructions/
  7. https://vanilla.energy/news/2022/12/07/4-year-update-are-solar-panels-for-home-still-worth-it/
  8. https://vanilla.energy/news/2022/12/07/how-do-solar-cells-work/






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