How to Build a DIY Solar Panel System For Your Home and Slash Your Electric Bill


Building a solar panel system for your home can significantly reduce your dependence on the electric grid and lower your monthly electricity bills. With some DIY skills and the right components, setting up solar panels is perfectly feasible as a weekend project. In this comprehensive guide, I'll walk you through the entire process of designing and installing your own solar panel system from start to finish.

Components Needed

To build a fully functioning solar panel system, you'll need the following key components:

Solar Panels

The solar panels are the core devices that convert sunlight into electricity. When shopping for solar panels, some key factors to consider include:

Solar Inverter

The inverter converts the DC electricity from the solar panels into AC electricity that can power your home's appliances and lights. Match your inverter wattage to your total solar panel wattage.

Mounting Equipment

To mount the solar panels, you'll need:

Batteries (Optional)

Adding solar batteries allows you to store electricity for use at night. This adds cost but increases independence from the grid. Lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries are common choices.

Safety Gear

Don't forget key safety equipment like harnesses, hard hats, goggles, and electrical gloves when working on your roof.

Sizing Your DIY Solar Panel System

The size of your solar panel setup depends on your household energy usage. Follow these steps to properly size your system:

1. Review Electricity Bills

Analyze 12 months of utility bills to determine your average monthly energy usage in kWh. Identify seasonal differences in usage too.

2. Estimate Panel Energy Production

Research the electricity production estimates for the solar panels you plan to install based on panel wattage and efficiency.

3. Match Production to Usage

Compare your estimated solar panel production to your current electricity usage and purchase enough panels to meet 80-100% of your needs.

4. Plan for Future Growth

Factor in expected energy usage growth over the system lifespan. Electric vehicles and new appliances could increase energy demand.

5. Use an Online Calculator

Online solar sizing calculators like the one from EnergySage can provide personalized system size recommendations based on your location and energy usage.

Installation Process Overview

Once you've sourced all the components, here are the key steps to install the DIY solar panel system:

  1. Choose an appropriate location with full sun exposure. South-facing rooftops work best if unobstructed.

  2. Mount racking rails to the roof's rafters or install ground-mount racks concreted into the ground. Follow local building codes.

  3. Attach the solar panels securely to the racking using panel clamps. Observe fire and electrical codes.

  4. Run wiring between panels and connect into parallel circuits. Multiple panels can combine to increase system voltage.

  5. Run conduit from the panels to the electrical room where the inverter and batteries will be located.

  6. Carefully connect the DC wires from the panels to the inverter inputs. Then connect the AC inverter outputs to your breaker panel.

  7. Connect batteries if part of the system. They also link to the inverter.

  8. Complete the utility interconnection application process to link with the electric grid.

Installation Safety Tips

When installing a DIY solar electric system, follow these important safety precautions:

Maintaining Your Solar Panel System

It's important to perform regular maintenance on your solar panel system to keep it running efficiently for decades. Follow this maintenance checklist:


Building your own solar panel system takes some upfront planning, component purchases, installation work, and ongoing maintenance. But for a handy homeowner, constructing a customized DIY solar array is absolutely achievable and will provide clean, renewable power as well as huge savings on electricity costs for decades to come! Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions as you start your solar journey.