DIY Solar Kits

An interesting article appeared in the local newspaper this week, “Solar Power For The Do-It-Yourselfer”.  The article profiled a company, SolarPod, that sells a solar kit that includes 4 PV solar panels, mounting hardware and micro-inverters.  The kit will produce about 1kW of electricity for a price tag of $4000 and are designed for flat roofs.

Solar Power for the Do-It-Yourselfer

While a bit pricey at $4/watt not including installation, it’s a great idea and the company makes a really good argument for DIY solar:

…Standard solar arrays cost more than a SolarPod because they are individually designed and installed by contractors. He said many SolarPad purchasers choose to have an electrician assemble and install their system. Even then, he added, labor costs can be lower because the system is quickly put together.


This further supports what I mentioned in this post, homeowners have a chance to decrease the cost of even professionally installed PV systems by doing some of the legwork themselves.

The article also inspired me to see what sort of “kit” I cold put together on my own.

First, I checked my favorite website for solar panel pricing and picked out four 250 Watt panels priced at $0.80/watt.  I chose these panels because the vendor, Civic Solar currently has a deal going on for a free engineering set with purchase of a complete system which includes:

  • Site Plan
  • Array Layout
  • Single-Line Diagram and/or Three Line Diagram
  • Conductor Schedule
  • Labels and Markings

Then, I pulled up the trusty Iron Ridge Design Assistant and plugged in my solar panel details (sorry the images are blurry, you will need to click on them to see the details):

SolarPod Comparison_1

And my roof conditions:

SolarPod Comparison_2

I stuck with stock length rails:

SolarPod Comparison 3

And the tool calculated a quote ($455) and parts list for me:

SolarPod Comparison 3

Last, I poked around for a good deal on micro-inverters.  We used Enphase micro-inverters for our 2012 project and really liked them, so I tossed in one per panel for 4 total micro-inverters:

enphase inverter

Let’s calculate what that comes to:

solarpod comparison costs

Not bad!  An entire 1 kW PV solar panel system for $1800, or $1.80/watt with a net cost of $1265 after the Federal Tax Credit.  With local rebates and incentives, it could be even cheaper.  Here is a link to more deals on solar panel kits as a comparison:

Solar Power Kits Price Survey


3 thoughts on “DIY Solar Kits

  1. Pingback: Solar Panel Prices Drop Again | DIY Rooftop Solar

  2. Great analytical breakdown of costs, I see this was from back in 2007 thank goodness the cost has gone down even further now. Has anyone you know ever tried importing panels directly from suppliers in China?

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