How to Safely Install Unconventional Electrical Systems in Your Home


Installing electrical systems in your home can be daunting, especially if you want to use unconventional systems like solar panels or wind turbines. However, with the right planning and precautions, you can safely install these systems on your own. In this comprehensive guide, I will walk you through everything you need to know to safely install unconventional electrical systems in your home.

Research Local Building Codes and Permit Requirements

The first step is to research your local building codes and permit requirements. Installing electrical systems typically requires a permit, and building codes will dictate what types of systems you can legally install. Failing to get proper permits can result in fines or even having to remove unsafe installations.

To find your local building codes, contact your city or county building department. Explain that you want to install an unconventional electrical system and ask what permits and inspections are required. Some key questions to ask:

Make sure to get all necessary permit applications and have copies of the relevant building codes so you can refer to them during the installation process. Building permits help ensure your electrical systems meet safety standards.

Choose an Appropriate System

Once you understand your local requirements, the next step is choosing the right electrical system for your needs and home setup. Key factors to consider include:

Thoroughly research each system you are considering before purchasing. Consulting with a qualified electrician can help you choose the right system.

Hire a Licensed Electrician

While a DIY enthusiast may be tempted to install their own electrical system, it's highly advisable to hire a licensed electrician, at least for parts of the installation. An experienced electrician can ensure the system meets building codes and safety best practices.

When hiring an electrician, make sure they are fully licensed in your state and have expertise with the type of system you want to install. Some key questions to ask prospective electricians include:

Work Together on the Installation

Once you choose an electrician, discuss your goals and work together to create a complete plan for the installation, including a timeline, division of labor, needed materials and fees. Be sure to check references and reviews of the electrician as well to ensure quality work.

By coordinating with the electrician, you can take on appropriate tasks yourself to save on labor costs. For example, you may be able to mount solar panel frames while the electrician handles the electrical connections.

Follow Safety Best Practices

During the installation, be sure to keep safety at the forefront. Follow these best practices:

Following safety procedures minimizes the risks of electric shock, falls, cuts, burns and other accidents. Never rush or skip steps that compromise your safety.

Connect the System Properly

One of the most important parts of the installation is connecting the new electrical system into your home's existing wiring. Improper connections can lead to fires, equipment damage or power outages.

Some key connections steps:

Have the licensed electrician handle much of the connection work, especially tying into the breaker panel. But educating yourself on proper connection procedures will enable you to assist.

Schedule Inspections

Most electrical system installations require multiple inspections from the local building department at different stages:

Schedule inspections well in advance. Only use the system after it passes final inspection. If it fails inspection, find out what corrections are needed before scheduling a follow-up.

Maintain Your System

Once the system is installed and approved, maintenance is required to keep it running safely and efficiently. Follow any maintenance guidelines from the manufacturer. You will also need to:

Proper maintenance prevents potential hazards and maximizes the system's useful lifespan. Factor maintenance into your original installation plans and budget.

Installing an unconventional electrical system in your home takes research, planning and care. But teaming up with an experienced electrician and following safety best practices will ensure you safely unlock the benefits of solar, wind or other power systems. Bring a copy of this guide to discussions with your electrician to serve as a roadmap for a successful installation.