In theory, you can fit solar panels yourself. In practice, it’s worth leaving it up to the professionals.
If you get DIY solar panels and install them on your roof yourself, you won’t be able to apply for the government-backed Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). The SEG pays you for every unit of electricity you generate and send back to the grid, so it’s a scheme well worth signing up for. However, you must have your solar panels installed by a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS)-registered engineer or company, so you’ll miss out if you install the solar panels by yourself.
The other thing to consider about installing solar panels yourself is that you’re dealing with electricity. Electricity is extremely dangerous if handled incorrectly, so if you don’t have any qualifications in working with electricity you could be putting yourself and your family at risk. Connecting DIY solar panels yourself and doing it incorrectly could mean that you give yourself an electric shock or cause a fire. If your home is damaged due to a fire caused by solar panels you’ve installed yourself, it’s unlikely that your home insurance company would pay out.
Before having a go at installing your own solar panels, do some quick sums to see how much money it could really save you. A 3.5kW DIY solar panel kit will cost around £4,000-5,000. According to the Energy Saving Trust, a home in the South East of England where most occupants are out all day until 6pm would save around £100 a year on their electricity bills. That means that you wouldn’t break even until 40 years, but solar panels last around 25 years on average. However, if you have your solar panels installed by an MCS-registered installer and they cost £4,500, you could save £220 a year including your SEG payments. That brings the payback time to around 20 years.
So although the initial outlay is slightly less when you install solar panels yourself, it’s much better to have them installed by an MCS-registered engineer so you can take advantage of the SEG payments.