Frequently Asked Questions
Should you, could you install your own solar electric system?
Over half our customers do install and maintain their own solar power systems. Some hire extra help for part of the installation. Most have an electrician or other professional do the wiring and metering into the house.
So, yes! You can size your system to suit your needs and budget. You can pick the components. And you can install it and maintain it.
There is a team of experienced solar folks here at Wholesale Solar who would love to help you through the process.
Can I build my own solar panels?
You may run into DIY information on the web about building your own solar panels, which we don't really recommend. Leave that to the manufacturers who keep tight control on the safety aspects. But there's lots you can do yourself—from sizing the system, picking components, mounting and installing the solar panels, inverter(s) and safety disconnects. The more you do yourself, the less expensive the whole thing will be.
How big a solar system will I need?
If you have any questions about sizing your system, we can help. Pull a few of your power bills, then call 1 (800) 472-1142. If you are planning for an off the grid home, look through this load evaluation worksheet before you call.
How much will it cost?
Cost depends on how much electricity you use. To answer that question we need you to answer 3. and 4. in the righthand column then skip to 8. and 9. Call us when you get in over your head. 1 (800) 472-1142.
Can I self-install a gridtie solar power system?
Many of our gridtie customers do. Gridtie solar is for folks who are already plugged into utility power. Gridtie solar is less complex to install than offgrid and can be easily expanded. Because of utility rebates for gridtie solar systems your installation may be more regulated. Check out the Rules, Regulations and Policies in your state. Plan to have an electrician or licensed contractor do the final hook-up. Would you like us to recommend one in your area? Call our dealer coordinator at 1 (800) 472-1142.
Can I self-install an offgrid solar power system?
Of course you can! Offgrid solar power is for independent minded people who want to live exactly where they want to live! Solar power allows you to buy undeveloped land that you can more easily afford. You're probably building your own home, or at least are very involved in the process. You're the perfect candidate for solar DIY!
We (the founders of Wholesale Solar) started off offgrid in northern New Mexico. We built a house and then figured out how to power it with used solar panels. Those panels came from a museum where they were installed during the Jimmy Carter administration (1977 - 1981) and are producing electricity still.
We also powered a 1,000 foot deep well with solar panels, despite several well pump installers telling us it couldn't be done!
1,000 foot deep solar powered community well in northern New Mexico.
Are you Ready? Start here.
- Find a consultant with lots of experience. Our sales/design team know the products and the process. Most of us have solar on our own homes. We'll steer you to the right products for your system.
- There are some essential questions you need to answer before you invest time and money in solar:
- Do you have room on your roof or on your property for an array of solar panels?
- Would you rather have panels on your roof or on the ground where you can reach them easily?
- Does the sun shine on this area for most of the daylight hours?
- Do shadows from trees or other structures fall on this area at certain parts of the day?
- Is your roof structurally sound enough to add the weight of solar panels and racks?
- Will you be able to face your solar panels so that the winter sun hits the panels at as close to perpendicular as possible at noon?
- (Whew! See? You need an experienced person to talk to. Call 1 (800) 472-1142.)
- Check your electric bills for how much electricity you use during your highest months of usage. This is a kWh number at the bottom of your bill. Write that number down so that you can refer to often.
We always recommend— first— lowering your energy usage, so do read about lowering your energy consumption. Every dollar you spend on energy efficiency saves you up to $5 in system cost.
- Educate yourself! Read our website, starting with the Getting Started thread. Whether you plan to hire an installer or do it yourself, these are things you need to understand. Subscribe to Home Power magazine. Check out your local bookstore for how-to manuals on solar. If you plan to make your own electricity, you need to understand the basics of electricity and more. Make safety your priority and you will sleep better at night.
- Learn the difference between gridtie and offgrid systems and decide what kind of system is appropriate for you. See Gridtie to Offgrid to understand all the options.
- Size your system. The process is different for sizing offgrid or sizing gridtie.
- Once you have an idea of how many panels it would take to produce all the electricity you use, you can look at comparable systems to come up with a ballpark price. Now you need to set a realistic budget.
- Check out the solar subsidies—local and state incentives, utility rebates, and the federal tax credit— and then refigure your budget.
- Contact your county or city building department and be prepared to install "to code" in order to qualify for incentives. We ALWAYS recommend installing to code for safety. Make contact early on with the electrician you will hire to do the final hooking up of your system.
- Now is a good time to check in with the Wholesale Solar Design Team. Are you on the right track? Would you like us to quote you on a system that will do exactly what you need it to do? 1 (800) 472-1142
Read about another of our customers' experience with his solar powered battery back up system.
Need a little more incentive? If you install solar yourself you can save 20% - 80% of the cost of your solar electric system. The potential savings is worth doing a little research and buying a few new tools.
Wholesale Solar's Design/Sales and tech crew will back you up all the way, from sizing your system, choosing components, to getting it up and running.
Call Wholesale Solar:
1 (800) 472-1142