Here for the Flexible Solar Panels Price? Flexible solar panels are portable and powerful devices that provide steady power on the go. The distinguishing feature of flexible solar panels is their ability to roll and fold, unlike conventional solar panels which are rigid in nature. Due to their flexible designs, these solar panels are useful for various excursions such as hiking, camping, kayaking, climbing, cycling, just to mention a few. In addition, flexible solar panels can be used on boats, RV’s, and autos for functions such as charging solar batteries. Are you looking for the best flexible solar panel for your next expedition?
These flexible solar panels are great because they can be shaped into any form, shape or size. These flexible solar panels are also lightweight. You can use them almost anywhere that gets sunlight. They are thin and not so easily broken so you don’t have to worry about breaking them during installation. They are efficient, durable and cost-effective. Flexible solar panels are one of the best options to choose when it comes to solar energy because of its micro technology.
The Best Flexible Solar Panels
1. Renogy RNG-160DB-H 160W Flexible Solar Panel
- Maximum curve of 248 degrees
- Includes reinforced mounting holes
- Ultra-lightweight design
- Dimensions of 59.1×26.0×0.08 In (147.6 x 66 x 0.2 cm)
- Peak wattage of 160w
- Efficiency 21.0%
Where To Buy
The Renogy RNG-160DB-H 160W Monocrystalline is the perfect combination of cutting-edge technology and precision. At 6.2 pounds in weight, this flexible, ultra-lightweight solar panel provides the power and energy that you are looking for. Its lightweight and flexible nature makes the Renogy Monocrystalline easy to carry, transport, and affix on uneven surfaces. Thanks to its polymer materials, it is generally easy to handle.
Even better is the fact that this solar panel is completely waterproof. It is ideal for use on airstreams, yachts, truck trailers and boats. This panel can be flexed at a maximum of 248 degrees. This is as flexible as solar panels get. At 248 degrees, this panel is well-capable of meeting a wide range of applications.
This Monocrystalline solar panel is 95% thinner than other solar counterparts. Thus, it is ideal for a stealthy solar setup. Remember, the thinner the solar panel, the more flexible it is. It withstands extreme wind of up to 2400Pa and snow loads of up to 5400Pa.
2. ALLPOWERS 100W Flexible Solar Panel
- Maximum curve of 30 degrees
- Includes reinforced mounting holes
- Easy-to-storage design
- Dimensions: 41 x 21 x 0.09 inch (104.1 x 53.3 x 0.2 cm)
- Peak wattage 100W
- Efficiency 23.5%
Where To Buy
When looking for one of the highest efficiency solar panels, the ALLPOWERS 100W Flexible Solar Panel flexible solar panel is one of the best. The energy conversion rate of the solar cells used in this product reach up to 23.5%, allowing for maximum power usage during daylight. Considering this, the ALLPOWERS panel has a higher energy efficiency conversion rate than the regular thin flexible solar panel available online.
This is actually one of the most popular choices for solar kits used on RV’s, boats, yachts, and more. The panel is made with a monocrystalline cell configuration and a flexible thin design — perfect for storing in tight spaces. If you are looking forward to powering many electrical devices, it is best to plug in around three panels, ensuring better electrical performance.
The ALLPOWERS products tend to be alongside the most durable and lightweight foldable solar panels. This includes cutting-edge solar panel technology, providing confidence to regular customers related to the fact that the product is robust, highly efficient, and incredibly durable.
Flexible Solar Panels Price
3. Giaride Solar Panel Flexible Solar Panel
- Integrated mounting holes.
- Lightweight and easy to carry.
- The flexible surface can bend up to 30 degrees.
- Dimensions: 50.39 x 20 x 0.12 inches (127 x 50.8 x 0.3 cm)
- Peak Wattage 100W
- Efficiency 21%
Where To Buy
When looking for high energy efficiency, the 100W Giaride flexible solar panel can be one of the best for the task. With the integration of 21% conversion monocrystalline solar cells, this option is much better and efficient than traditional solar panels used for typical home solar power systems. With only three Giaride panels plugged in parallel, the installation may surpass the output of any 300-watt flexible solar panels.
The Giaride flexible solar panels are easy to install anywhere from RVs, boats, yachts and even on irregular surfaces. This product can be easily integrated in any solar panels array and plugged into one of the best solar charge controllers.
4. WindyNation Lightweight Flexible Solar Panel
- Includes pre-drilled holes for easy installation.
- Easily mounted by using Velcro.
- Strong enough as to withstand 1 inch hailstones.
- Dimensions: 40.9 x 26.8 x 0.1 inches (103.8 x 680 x 2.54 cm)
- Peak Wattage 100W
- Curve angle up to 20 degrees
Where To Buy
Windy Nation designs incredible options in the market for flexible solar panels and other solar-related products, making it one of the most valuable brands in the industry. This product is ready-to-install as soon as it arrives, it also includes pre-drilled reinforced mounting holes with an easy-to-install system. WindyNation Lightweight Flexible Solar Panel is an incredible 100-watt flexible solar panel with a high conversion rate, surpassing the conventional solar panels.
As one of the lightweight options, the WindyNation product is perfect for outdoor uses. This 100W solar panel can be easily paired with any of the most capable solar generators to have a ready-to-go system, whenever you feel like enjoying the outdoor nature without losing the advantages of technology. This system can effortlessly charge any cellphone or laptop battery while having all the advantages of conventional flexible solar panels.
5. Genssi 100W Flexible Photovoltaic Solar Panels
- Bypass diode for a minimal power drop due to shades or low light
- Aluminum corrosive-resistant frame.
- Multi-layered sheet lamination provides better performance
- Dimensions 41.33 x 26.77 x 0.11 inches (105 x 68 x 0.3 cm)
- Peak power output 100W
- Efficiency 22%
Where To Buy
When considering using renewable energy on a boat to power electrical devices, it’s important to look for durable, reliable, and powerful solar flexible solar panels. Genssi 100W Flexible Photovoltaic Solar Panels have high-temperature resistance, a 22% ultra-high-energy conversion rate, and they’re waterproof. This option is among the best marine flexible solar panels online, making it perfect for yachts, boats, and more.
Genssi products are among the most efficient solar panels, allowing for high-versatility for multiple applications. The panels can be used for camping, roof vehicle installing or simply as a home backup generation system. The Gennsi panels can be paired with a high-quality solar inverter or any backup solar generator, allowing it to generate a lot of power for home usage or simply live on the road using solar generation when in need to charge phones or laptops.
6. Richsolar 80 Watt
- Nonstick surface allows easier cleaning with rainwater.
- Designed to resist tear, fire and corrosion.
- Bent up to 30 degrees for installation purposes
- Dimensions 33.3 x 27.2 x 0.11 inches (84.5 x 69.09 x 0.2 cm)
- Peak wattage 80W
- Weight: 4.3 lb. (1.9 kg)
Where To Buy
Richsolar 80 Watt flexible solar panels are specially designed to withstand a high power output, making them ideal for outdoor and indoor usages. Richsolar panels can be plugged in parallel with other 80 watt panels in order to create a high energy generation system to use whenever is needed. With this solar parallel connection, the modules can easily charge home solar backup batteries using an inverter for the system while providing backup energy.
Solar generators can use Richsolar’s 80 Watt panels to charge the equipment’s battery and power electrical devices at the same time. They have a high solar output efficiency, allowing the user to generate with two Richsolar 80 Watt flexible panels, the same wattage obtained from a 160-watt flexible solar panel. The ETFE laminated membrane protects the panel as much as the glass and aluminum encasing does for traditional panels.
7. Lensun 60W Fiberglass Monocrystalline Solar Panel
- Includes an ETFE layer
- It deteriorates slower than other panels and resist the effect of aging.
- Dimensions 30 x 21 x 0.1 inches (76.2 x 53.34 x 0.254 cm)
- Peak Wattage 60W
- Efficiency 17%
Where To Buy
Many people request flexible solar panel kits because they include essential items at the moment of installing flexible solar panels, without really considering if it is the best deal for them. Lensun 60W Fiberglass Monocrystalline Solar Panel surpasses the quality of most panels included in power system kits, making it a cheaper and more efficient option. The product can be paired with a charge controller, solar generators and any other solar kit included items, representing a better choice for a fair price.
Lensun panels are designed to withstand most climate conditions, making the product ideal to install on trucks, RVs, or any mobile home. The panel is protected against seawater due to the inclusion of an ethylene tetrafluoroethylene layer for higher light transmission and two EVA layers on each side of the cells. This feature makes it ideal for using the product on yachts and boats, while making it one of the most long-lasting panels for marine installations.
8. XINPUGUANG 100w Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panels
- Ideal for irregular surfaces
- It provides a maximum bending arc of 30 degrees
- Withstands extreme weather conditions
- Dimensions of 46.3 x 21.3 x 0.1 in (117.6 x 54.1 x 0.254 cm)
- Peak Wattage of 100W
- Efficiency 19.5%
Where To Buy
No flexible solar panels review will be complete without another brand that’s rising on the market, the XINPUGUANG 100w Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panels. The panel includes a 19.6% solar conversion efficiency with the usage of monocrystalline silicon solar cells to provide more power and energy. The 100w solar panel is perfect for any kind of outdoor usage, camping or even installing at RVs.
Xinpuguang provides the best marine solar panels, making them durable at the time of installation on curved surfaces that will expose the foldable panels to seawater, high temperatures, and many extreme conditions. The Xinpuguang product can provide as much power as any traditional 100W polycrystalline solar panel, this product also includes all the advantages of flexible solar panels. The product is packaged ready-to-plug, allowing the user to install it without the need of solar installers.
9. SUNPOWER 110W Flexible Portable Solar Panel
- Cell built on a solid copper foundation that increases durability.
- High weather resistance and lower loss of power due to temperature.
- Maximum bending arc of 30 degrees, ideal for irregular surfaces.
- Dimensions 45.9 x 21.9 x 0.1 inches (116.58 x 55.626 x 0.254 cm)
- Peak Wattage 110W
- Efficiency 25%
Where To Buy
The SUNPOWER 110W Flexible Portable Solar Panel has a 25% solar conversion, featuring a higher wattage output in comparison to other panels with the same size. This is thanks to the usage of SunPower monocrystalline solar cells. Two of these panels plugged together will provide much more energy than any 200-watt flexible solar panel.
SunPower 110W flexible panels provide a higher wattage than any other monocrystalline or polycrystalline 100W solar panel. The SunPower panel features a high-quality polymer construction for protection instead of the plastic sheet that is used for conventional solar panels. The SUNPOWER 110W is robust, weather-resistant, and made of high-quality products — making it perfect for installing on RVs, mobile homes, boats, yachts, and other places where it can be exposed to harsh weather conditions.
10. Kingsolar Flexible 100 Watt
- Compatible with boats, yachts, RVs, trucks and more.
- Sealed and waterproofed junction box.
- Panel can be curved to a maximum arc of 30 degrees.
- Dimensions 42.1 x 21.4 inches ( 106.9 x 54.56 cm)
- Peak Wattage 100W
- Efficiency 23.5%
Where To Buy
The Kingsolar Flexible 100 Watt solar panel can be classified as one of the traditional portable solar panels, designed by a brand with years on the market, manufacturing high-quality flexible solar panels. When looking to enjoy all the advantages of flexible solar panels, Kingsolar’s products are among the best. These solar panels are flexible, reliable, and have a higher efficiency than common solar panels.
When looking for a high energy output in solar technology, Kingsolar can make it happen. The product can be plugged in parallel with other Kingsolar panels, creating a high power system, ideal for living off-grid. Living outdoors with renewable energy products is entirely possible with the usage of Kingsolar flexible panels. This product can be paired with other solar products like an inverter, solar generator, and more.
What are the pros and cons of DIY solar panels?
Before we jump into the 11 steps for a DIY solar panel installation, I think it’s worth going over the pros and cons.
After all, a DIY solar is a big and costly commitment. It’s best to figure out whether or not DIY solar is right for you before you’re too heavily invested in the process!
Pro: Cost savings
At the risk of stating the obvious, the biggest reason people opt for a DIY solar panel installation is to save money on the upfront installation cost.
Solar panel systems have dropped in price — by over 70% in the last decade alone — but they still represent a significant financial investment for most homeowners.
Right now, the average cost of solar panel installation by a professional solar company is around $3.00 per watt. For a typical 5 kW (5,000 watt) solar panel system, that works out to $15,000.
On the other hand, you should be able to buy a 5 kW DIY solar panel kit for under $2.00 per watt. Assuming you perform all of the work by yourself (i.e. no contractors for any of the tasks), the total cost of the 5 kW DIY solar project would cost no more than $10,000.
That works out to a potential savings of over $5,000 by choosing DIY over a professional solar installation.
Of course, the exact cost difference between the two is affected by many variables. Factors that can affect costs include system size, your location, your choice of brands, your roof layout, your state and local incentives, and more. And you’d also want to take into account 26% solar tax credit would apply for both a professional installation and a DIY job, reducing the cost and thus the price differential between the two methods of going solar.
That said, there is without question a substantial price difference between buying a DIY solar panel kit, and hiring a solar company to complete the installation for you.
Pro: DIY satisfaction
If you’re someone who really enjoys a big and challenging DIY project, then a solar installation might be what you’re looking for.
You will have to draw on many different skill sets, such as the ability to negotiate municipal processes, financial planning, proficiency with power tools, electrical work, and even tax accounting.
And there are many stages to the solar installation — researching, planning, shopping, permitting, installation, electric wiring, and monitoring.
This is a project that will keep you busy for a while.
Con: It’s a lot of time and effort
I know, in the point immediately above this one I framed the challenging nature of a solar installation as a positive. Yes, it can be rewarding — but only if you’re actively seeking a difficult and time-consuming DIY challenge.
If, however, your idea of a DIY project doesn’t expand far beyond assembling some Scandinavian flatpack furniture, then you might want to steer clear of taking on solar. It is a very time-consuming project. From conception to commissioning, a DIY solar installation for a home usually takes between one to four months.
Con: Risk of roof damage or leaks
This is perhaps the biggest financial risk when it comes to a DIY solar installation.
Unless you have a flat roof, your solar installation will involve drilling a large number of holes into your roof. Drilling into the wrong spot on the roof can cause structural damage, while incorrect sealing and flashing can cause a roof leakage and/or mold issues.
Another factor to keep in mind is that a DIY solar installation is likely to void the warranty of your roof, so you’ll have to foot the bill for any repairs that may be needed.
Con: Physical danger
Heights and high voltage electricity. If you’re doing a DIY solar installation from start to finish, there’s no avoiding these two risks.
Falls are a hazard in DIY solar panel installation. Image source: Twitter
And the physical risks can continue after the installation. If your panels aren’t performing as they should, you may need to get back on the roof to troubleshoot the issue.
Worst of all, if you haven’t connected the wiring properly, your rooftop system could catch fire!
Con: Inability to claim some incentives
Many states offer incentives and rebates that dramatically reduce the cost of going solar.
Some incentives, however, are only available when the installation is completed by a certified solar company.
Con: No support for faults or warranty claims
You are on your own if there is ever a fault with the equipment.
Of course, you can still contact the manufacturer directly, but it can be difficult to prove a warranty claim. Furthermore, if you perform an improper installation, you can actually void the warranty.
The 11 steps for DIY solar panels
Let’s now dive into the 11 steps needed to take your DIY solar panel project from conception to completion.
1. Decide on your goals
If you haven’t already, you first need to decide what your goal is for going solar.
The goal you’re shooting for will determine the best system type for you, how complex the installation will be, and how much the project will cost.
Homeowners usually choose between the following goals.
- Financial savings
- Backup power
- Energy self sufficiency (independence from the electrical grid)
We strongly recommend that you decide on your goal right at the outset. There is an almost infinite number of options and permutations when it comes to DIY solar, so you need to be clear on what decisions you make, and why.
2. Choose the right solar system type
The next decision is to choose the right solar power system type to match your goal.
There are three main types of solar installations:
- Grid-tied solar panel system
- Hybrid solar panel system (aka grid-tied with battery storage)
- Off-grid solar system
All of these system types have many features in common: they all involve solar panels, inverters, mounts, and wiring. There are, however, some crucial differences, and they can impact the project’s cost and complexity. Here’s a brief summary of each.
Grid-tied solar panel system
A grid-tied solar panel system is a solar setup that is connected to the grid and uses it as a battery through net metering. Grid-tied solar panel systems are usually smaller than the other types and have the lowest upfront cost.
Best for: Maximum financial savings
Pros: Lowest cost, simple design and installation
Cons: The system will shut off during a grid outage. Your system will need to pass inspection before it can be connected to the grid.
This video shows how a grid-tied solar system works for a typical home: https://www.youtube.com/embed/A5Wb61nEoZc?rel=0
Hybrid solar panel system (aka grid-tied with battery storage)
A hybrid solar panel system is also connected to the grid; the key difference here is the inclusion of a battery storage solution.
As with a regular grid-tied system, a hybrid solar system can import and export power from the grid as needed. But a hybrid solar system can use the battery system for two additional uses: for backup power during a grid failure, and to take advantage of Time of Use (TOU) arbitrage.
However, solar batteries — the most famous example of which is the Tesla Powerwall — are still an expensive option, so adding one to a solar system nearly always lowers the return on investment for the homeowner. In other words, the increased cost of adding a battery typically does not lead to an equivalent increase in savings.
Best for: Backup power
Pros: Emergency power supply during grid outages
Cons: Requires a battery backup solution, and unfortunately batteries are still expensive to buy. Your system will also need to pass inspection before it can be connected to the grid.
As the name suggests, an off-grid solar system operates independently of the grid.
Since there’s no grid to fall back on, the solar system needs to be very large so that it can meet the home’s power needs 24/7, 365 days a year — even during winter and/or long stretches of overcast weather.
To achieve this, off-grid solar systems require a large number of solar panels as well as a large battery bank.
Best for: Energy self sufficiency
Pros: Zero reliance on the electricity grid and no interaction with the utility company, and no inspections.
Cons: Very expensive, and lots of space required for the large number of solar panels and accompanying battery storage.
3. Check solar rules and regulations
There is a wide range of rules governing solar installations. They can vary greatly between states, and even between local jurisdictions.
You will usually need a building permit and a utility permit before you start your installation. This usually involves an on-site inspection by either a structural engineer or a licensed electrician. You will need to pass another round of inspections before your system can be activated and connected to the grid.
Some states don’t allow a solar system to be connected to the grid unless the installation was performed by a licensed contractor. If this is the case where you live, you won’t be able to install a DIY grid-tied or hybrid solar system.
It is important to know these rules beforehand so you can judge if a DIY solar panel installation is possible where you live; and if it is possible, if it’s still a worthwhile option to pursue.
4. Design a system
This is one of the most complicated parts of the DIY solar panel process. You want your system to take into account all of the following factors:
- Your energy usage
- Climate and the number of sun hours you’ll see each month
- Solar panel orientation
- Solar panel angle
- Natural efficiency drop
- Conversion losses
- Battery size and charging (for hybrid and off-grid systems)
The PVWatts Calculator from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is a well-known tool that takes into account the above points to show you total system output over each month of the year.
We also recommend you try out our solar panel calculator. It builds on the data provided by PVWatts to recommend a system size for your specific home, and even shows you which section of your roof you should use for maximum exposure to sunlight.
Calculate the system size you need to offset 100% of your electric usage
If you’re adding batteries for a hybrid or off-grid system, you’ll need to take care to size your battery correctly. If your battery is too small, you may run out of backup power just when you need it. On the flip side, if your battery is too big, you’ll wind up spending too much, and might quickly diminish battery capacity by failing to charge it sufficiently.
For more information about batteries, check out this handy guide on battery sizing.
As part of your system design, you’ll want to create an electrical diagram. This will be useful as a blueprint when it’s time to install your panels; it will also be required when you’re applying for permits.
5. Do the math
By this point, you should have a clear idea of what kind of system you want, as well as what’s allowed (and what isn’t) under the rules and regulations governing solar in your area.
Now you’ll want to move on to specifics and work the numbers, i.e. your estimated costs and savings.
Make a solar costs and savings projection covering the guaranteed life of your panels (typically 25 years). Image source: Freepik
Based on your system design, you should be able to search online and find the costs for the equipment you require. The simplest way to do this is to look for a complete, all-in-one DIY solar kit that matches your needs.
Next, you want to work out your utility bill savings. Using the system size you worked out in your design in Step #4, it’s relatively easy to calculate the annual output of your system. Based on that, you can figure out and total up avoided utility costs. When projecting ahead, be sure to account for inflation in utility costs.
Some homeowners may be constrained by limited roof space; in that case, they should calculate the maximum number of solar panels that can fit on their roof, and then figure out costs and savings from there.
Now, with the cost and savings figure in hand, you can calculate what the return on your DIY solar panel project will be, and if it’s worth going ahead with from a financial perspective.
6. Stop and reevaluate
Assuming you’ve already completed Steps 1-4, you should have a clear idea about whether a DIY solar panel installation is feasible or not. Specifically, this is what you should know by now:
- If a DIY solar panel system is allowed where you live
- The permitting and approval process
- The solar panel system size you want, and whether you have the space for it
- The estimated cost of the installation
- The electricity bills savings you will receive
- If the financial equation is right for you
- All of the risks associated with a DIY solar panel installation (refer to the ‘Cons’ section earlier on this blog)
If you’re still unclear on any of the points, step back and continue your research.
If you do have all this information, then I recommend you pause and reevaluate.
Is solar right for you? And if it is, here are the three options you can choose to make it a reality.
DIY solar panel installation
You’ve done your research and are clear on what DIY solar installation entails. You’re confident in your ability to perform all the necessary tasks yourself, and have a plan to avoid or mitigate all the risks. Congratulations, you’re ready to get started and get your hands dirty.
Outsource part of the installation
You may decide that you’re better off outsourcing part of the installation. This is often a good idea if there’s a specific section that you don’t feel comfortable with. For instance, many solar DIY-ers decide to hire an external contractor to perform the electrical installation.
Get a professional solar company to perform the entire installation
While this is the most expensive in terms of cost, it’s the cheapest option when it comes to time, effort and peace of mind. The solar company will design the system for you, source all materials, and deal with all permitting requirements. Furthermore, if there are any issues with panels or workmanship down the line, they will be there to handle them for you.
I encourage you to check out this option. To do so, simply use our solar panel calculator to request no-obligation quotes from licensed solar installers in your area.
See live solar prices in your area and request obligation-free quotes
If you’re still not sure which is the best way forward, here is a solar decision matrix to help you out.
|Financial costs||Time costs||Roof leakage risk||Permitting requirements||Ease||Personal safety|
|DIY solar install||++||–||–||–||–||–|
|Outsource part of the installation||+||+||+||–||+||+|
|Professional solar install||–||++||++||++||++||++|
7. Start permitting process
You’re ready to get your hands dirty and install some solar panels! But wait — remember the rules and regulations you researched back at Step #3?
If you haven’t already, list out all permit processes required by the state, your utility, and your authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).
There’s a good chance that you’re going to have to apply for a building and utility permit before you start any work. This will often involve an inspection by either an electrician or a structural engineer, or both.
It’s important to follow all the steps required to ensure that your installation is code-compliant and legal.
8. Choose supplier and buy equipment
Here’s is a brief list of all the equipment you’ll need for you solar setup:
- Solar panels
- Solar inverter
- Mounting and racking equipment
- Wiring and general electrical supplies
- Battery system (for hybrid and off-grid system)
- Charge controller (required for some battery systems)
Ideally, you’ll find a complete DIY solar panel kit that includes everything you need for your solar installation. That’ll save you time that you would otherwise spend searching for individual components and then figuring out whether each part can work together.
When you’re comparing kits, we encourage you to check product reviews on SolarReviews to make sure that you’re buying from reputable brands that homeowners are happy with.
When it comes to picking a supplier, you want to choose one that offers great warranty and after-sales support. I would prioritize both these factors over price — unless you’ve performed a solar installation before, you’re going to have to talk to the vendor many times during the installation, and maybe even after.
9. Install the solar panel system
At this point, you should have successfully applied for all necessary permits and approvals, and accepted delivery of your solar equipment. It’s now time to install the panels!
The actual specifics of the installation will depend on what system type and equipment you’ve decided upon.
The process I’m describing below is for a grid-tied system that uses microinverters for the DC to AC power conversion.
Task 1: Install solar panel racking and mounting
Use a chalk line to measure and mark out exactly where on your roof the racking system will be installed.
Next, look for solid bits of the roof to drill into for the installation of lag bolts. You should consider using a stud finder with AC current detection to ensure you’re not drilling through a power line.
Caulk the holes and install flashing to create a waterproof seal before you screw the lag bolts in. Once the lag bolts are all ready, you can install L-feet and then lock the rails on to them.
Task 2: Connect microinverters
Onto the microinverters. These are little boxes that will modulate the output of each panel. You’ll connect them to the rails using the provided bolts. Each box will have a positive and negative wire coming out of it, which you will connect together to form a series connection for each array.
Microinverters attached to a rail. Later, each solar panel will be connected to one before it is mounted. Image source: Enphase
Task 3: Connect grounding wire
Connect copper wire of an appropriate gauge across the rails as grounding. This is an important safety precaution and will help dissipate any anomalies caused by a lightning strike or a fault.
Task 4: Install roof junction box
You’ll need to drill a hole in the roof to install a junction box. If you have more than one solar array, you will run the trunk cable from each into the junction box. This will allow you to channel the power from the solar panels to your house.
Task 5: Install the solar panels
It’s now time to haul the panels onto the roof. Each module is about 65 inches by 39 inches, which can be an awkward size for one person to handle on their own. Consider getting someone to assist you with this part, especially if your roof is steep. I also strongly recommend that you use a harness while you’re up there.
It’s now time to attach the solar panels to the mounting rail. Before laying them down flat, first get the wiring in order. Each solar panel will have a negative and positive DC wire attached. You don’t want the wires to touch the roof, so you clip or zip-tie them to the panel. You can then connect the wires into the microinverters you’ve already attached to the railings.
Next, insert the provided mid-clamps into the railing to hold the solar panel in place from each side. For the solar panels that lie on each end of the rail, use end-clamps to keep them in place and present a more aesthetically pleasing look.
Task 6: Home run connection
With the solar panels ready, it’s time to connect them to the house. For this you will need to install:
- A conduit
- An external junction box
- An emergency disconnect box
The conduit will carry the wires from the roof junction box down to the external junction box.
The junction box will in turn connect to an emergency disconnect. This is a safety feature that allows you to quickly shut off your solar panel system, and is a required feature in many jurisdictions.
From the emergency disconnect, the wires are passed through to the home’s main electrical panel. The external junction box and emergency disconnect box should be weatherproof and installed in an area that is easily accessible and allows easy connection to the home’s main electrical panel.
Your solar panel system is now ready, but unfortunately there’s still a couple of more hoops to jump before you can actually switch it on.
10. Final inspection and interconnection with the grid
Once your installation is complete, you’ll have to schedule an inspection with the local AHJ. The inspector will come out and inspect your system to ensure that it’s compliant with local ordinances, and that the design matches those laid out in your plans.
The system will also need to pass an electrical inspection to ensure that it is code-compliant.
Once the inspection is done, you will need to apply for interconnection with the grid. The utility will either install a second meter, or replace your existing one with a bi-directional (or net) meter. The bi-directional meter can record your home’s power exports the grid so that you can receive credits on your power bill.
11. Switch on your system
Assuming your system has now met all state, local and utility requirements, you can now commission it.
These days, most inverters offer solar monitoring app that allow you to check your system performance online from wherever you are. Use this to make sure that your solar system is performing as expected.
It was hard work, but you can now benefit from a solar panel system that produces clean energy, lowers your electricity bill, and improves the value of your home. Congratulations!
DIY or not, solar power is highly rewarding
If you’ve read through this very lengthy blog post, kudos – you are definitely serious about going solar! You are now on a journey that I’m sure you’ll find highly rewarding.
Here are some of the best things about having solar panels:
- The satisfaction of receiving a much lower utility bill – and thinking of all the things you can do with the money you’ll be saving over the years
- Monitoring your solar panel production and usage from day to day
- Pride in producing clean energy and doing your part in combating climate change
If you have a lot of time on your hands and the skills to pull it off, you can achieve all these benefits at the minimum possible cost.
However, if you’ve read through this guide and feel that a DIY solar installation is just too much work, then fret not: you can still get all the benefits by getting a professional solar company to do the work for you.
Either way, we encourage you to check out our solar calculator. It will recommend a system for you that offers 100% offset of your utility bills, and can show you what the panels will actually look like on your roof.
Best of luck on your solar journey!