One of the larger costs in adding Solar Power to your home is the cost of labor.
Although the process of installing Solar Panels is pretty simple and requires only basic Tools and Skills connecting any electrical generator to your home or modifying loads on your roof will require inspections and other steps that get in the way more then anything else.
So, is it possible to do all the work yourself or do you definitely need a contractor to install a system for you?
That question can only be answered on a case by case install.
If you are handy and can change a battery in your car or a circuit breaker in your service box then you most likely can perform the work if you can get around the fear of heights to work on your roof and can carry the panels up a ladder.
The most important thing you need to do before selecting a system is to verify what rules and products must be used to connect to your local power grid. If you are out in the middle of nowhere and building an off grid system you can skip this but for everyone else it is extremely important.
Selling your electric back to the grid during the day allows you to use those credits at night when you need it.
Some Electric companies will require both specific parts and that a certified and licensed electrician install the system. Others will just require that the final connection and an inspection be performed by one of their certified select electricians that understand how to connect back to the grid.
Other then the actuall connection of parts and back to the grid is the concerns of extra weight on your roof.
Solar products are pretty light but when you are installing a large number of panels that will need to be secured so they do not blow off during a storm or leak water into your attic the local municipality will probably require an inspection.
You will need to supply ratings for your attic framing showing that your roof can support the load and a visual inspection will be made. An electrical inspection will also be necessary.
Home Insurance is another concern. Installing a solar electric collection system incorrectly may void your home owner’s insurance. It could also leave you liable for problems related to the install later when you sell your home.
Warranties on the products will come from a manufacturer and unfortunately manufactures in this business seem to go out of business quite often. If you have a contractor install the system make sure that there is a clause that states a warranty will include replacement of parts from other companies in case the one you select is no longer in business.
Cost is probably the only reason to do the work yourself. If you can get hold of panels and parts on a steep discount then it is worth doing it yourself. If the difference between doing it yourself and a contractor installing the same exact parts is small then you might as well just hire someone. It will alleviate a lot of problems with inspections and dealing with the electric company and your insurance.
So, should you hire a contractor to install a Solar Electric System?
The answer is probably yes unless you can find an extremely good deal on a slightly used system. Today we have thousands of homes sitting half built that are vacant and it is possible that a builder might want to remove a system and sell it just so it does not get stolen. If you stumbled across a deal like that and got everything for 30% of cost I would say ask an electrician to give you a hand with the final inspection and connection and install the parts on your own.