Getting Started with DIY Solar Power

Getting Started with DIY Solar Power

By Renogy
renogys blog May 16th 2022

Should I install a solar project on my own?

With the wealth of solar panel kits available on the market, it’s never been easier to go the DIY route when going solar.

Installing solar on your own gives you total control over your system to ensure it meets all your specific needs. While installing a solar system by yourself can create some added obstacles to going solar, it can also save you thousands, as well as give you the joy and satisfaction of accomplishing this big task on your own. But it’s not for everyone. Let’s help you decide if you should take going solar into your own hands.

Should I go the DIY route?

I’m interested in going off grid.

DIY solar is ideal for those looking to go off-grid. Off-grid solar systems, or stand-alone power systems, produce enough energy through the usage of solar panels and battery storage without having to tap into the electric grid. This makes it easier on your end since you don’t have to worry about working with utility and making that connection into the grid.

I live in an RV, van, or cabin.

Yes! DIY solar is perfect for those looking to install small, off-grid set ups on small cottages, cabins, vans, or RV’s. vans, or RV’s. Setting up a solar system on the roof of a van on your own is a lot easier than planning a system on your own for a 2,000 square foot home.

I have the time and energy to dedicate toward learning about solar.

Although installing solar on your own has never been easier, there’s still a lot of technical requirements to consider. For example, how comfortable are you working with your home’s electricity? However, if you’re a hands-on learner or are handy around the home, installing solar on your home may not be as hard as you think.

I want to install a grid-tied system on your house.

We recommend hiring an installer to help you coordinate your solar project, evaluate your roof, and handle permitting requirements to connect to the grid. This can be a big project if done on your own, and in many jurisdictions, using a certified professional installer is required because you’ll be connecting to the grid.

What are the drawbacks of DIY solar?

Installing solar requires expertise and can be complicated.

Even though it’s never been easier to go solar, dollar installations still involve working with complex components and electrical equipment. If you decide you want to do a solar installation yourself (either the whole thing or just part of it), take the time to do your research and gather as much information as you can confidently tackle your solar project. Working with a licensed contractor will ensure the solar installation process goes smoothly and safely.

You have to handle permitting on your own.

Solar installers are well versed in your city’s rules, regulations, and permitting processes. Navigating that red tape on your own can take up a lot of time and energy. Also, keep in mind that most utilities require the system to be installed by a certified professional, so make sure to check into those policies.

You may not be eligible for rebates or incentives.

Many of the beneficial residential solar rebates and incentives are only valid if your project has been installed by a professional. This means you’d be losing out on thousands of dollars in savings by going the DIY route.

What do I need for an off-grid solar system?

There are some key components of off-grid solar installations. This includes solar panels, a charge controller, a battery bank, an inverter, cables, and mounting hardware. Solar panels , which are made up of many solar cells made of silicon, create an electric current when sunlight hits the panels, they create an electric current. The current collected by solar panels feeds into a charge controller, which controls how much current goes to the battery. Charge controllers prevent batteries from being overcharged. Your battery bank will store and produce DC power. In order to use AC appliances, such as microwaves, laptops, and phone chargers, an inverter is connected to change the power from DC into usable AC.

Most DIY solar panel kits ,will include solar panels, charge controllers, cables, and mounting hardware, meaning you still need to buy an inverter and batteries.

How do I install an off-grid solar installation on my own?

1. Evaluate your energy needs

You’ll first need to size your system based on your energy needs.

The Renogy solar panel calculator is a great tool that makes it a quick and easy process to help determine your specific needs. The solar sizing calculator allows you to input information about your lifestyle to help you decide on your solar panel requirements. You’ll just need to know what total watts your electronics will consume, how long you plan on running the devices, your charge controller efficiency, and average sun hours per day. The solar panel calculator will then be able to tell you the minimum and recommended system size, as well as the recommended battery output. Having an accurate understanding of your energy needs will give you a better idea of the costs and ensure you don’t under- or over-build a system.

2. Off-grid vs. On-grid

You’ll want to know early on in the process whether or not you plan to go off-grid. Benefits of off- grid solar systems include access to power during a blackout, a lower carbon footprint, and the end of monthly utility bills. For those living in a tiny home, RV, cabin, boat, or isolated area or are in an area where they don’t have reliable, steady access to power from the grid, off-grid solar can be a great solution.

That being said, being on-grid and generating energy from a variety of different sources is a great approach to ensure you have steady access to electricity and can take advantage of the economic benefits of solar, while also avoiding the need to install an unnecessarily large and expensive system. When you’re on-grid, solar energy will be one of a few different energy sources, which could include tapping into the traditional electrical grid if you’re at home or using shore power or a traditional gas powered generator in an RV. All of these sources will feed energy into your home or batteries in your RV, van, or boat.

3. Shop for a DIY solar panel kit

Solar panel kits make it easy to ensure that you have all the parts you need and that they will safely and efficiently work together. Renogy has a range of different solar panel kits for those interested in installing solar on their own, from starter kits to cabin/shed kits.

4. Select Your Batteries

If you’re going off-grid or want to have energy storage in your system, you’ll need to research to decide what battery is best for you. Lead acid batteries are the most inexpensive option and are available at most big-box and auto stores. Absorbed glass matt batteries store 10 to 15 percent more energy than lead acid batteries and charge up to four times faster. Lithium ion batteries are the most expensive options, but also last four times longer than lead-acid batteries and weigh much less. They also require very limited maintenance.

5. Permitting and Installation

If you’re installing panels on a cottage, cabin, or home, do your research to see what building codes say and what permitting is required. Every jurisdiction is different. Check with your state energy office, local officials, or a local renewable energy organization to see what requirements exist to make sure you adhere to specific rules, regulations and building codes. Once all your necessary paperwork is in place (if stay applicable to you), then it’s time for the actual installation. Renogy’s DIY kits include specifications about how to install the technology, but it never hurts to consult with a professional.


Going solar on your own doesn’t have to be scary. Thanks to DIY solar kits, you can start harnessing energy from the sun in no time. Just be sure to do a little research to learn about the components you’ll need for your system and how much energy you’ll need to produce, and you’ll have the solar installation of your dreams.