Do-It-Yourself Solar in Louisiana – Maybe Not

We get inquiries for solar installation where the customer wants to install the solar power system themselves because they “want to save money”, or “like to work with their hands” or “have a technical background”.  I would like to share with you my response to this:

“Hi Eager, Thrifty, Hands-on type of person,

Thanks for contacting Gulf South Solar for your solar power system.  I too am a retired electrical engineer, and I started this company 11 years ago to design and install solar for everyone I knew that wanted solar.

I will say Installation is fun, if you like working on roofs, high voltage DC, and 240v AC electricity.  Labor is actually a relatively small part of the overall project cost.  Many installations we do average about $.70/watt for installation.  Since we are a licensed solar company, the installation labor is eligible for the state and federal tax credit.  The actual customer net savings (20% of $.70/watt) is about $.14/watt.

Typical systems are being installed between 6 – 7 kilowatts for $25k now, so IF YOU COULD take the tax credits on your system, your net savings of the $25,000 would be $938.  For your information a 2-3 man crew typically take 2 days to install a system so I hope your very good friends don’t eat or drink much since they’ll be working for free.  I hope your insurance covers them if they get hurt too.

The problem you have now is that Louisiana changed the law last year and homeowners are now NOT able to get a state tax credit on a solar power system unless they are a licensed solar contractor.  If you were to install your own $25,000 system you “could” save the $4690 ($.70/watt) but you would give up the $12,500 tax credit, for a loss of $7,810.

Even if you do enjoy hands-on projects it is not economically smart to install your own solar any more, since it would cost you $7,810 on a $25,000 system.  However, I do stock all solar components, including modules, inverters, rail splice, L-feet, racking, mounting hardware, stand-offs, flashings, 600VDC solar rated wire, wire clips, UL rated PV connectors, lightning arrestors, safety disconnects, string combiners, DC string fuses, junction boxes, grounding lugs, grounding weebs, grounding nibs, ground rods, stainless steel lag bolts, (and anything else you realize you need when you are up on the roof), and would be happy to sell them to you at internet price if you decide to proceed in this direction.  For an additional fee we can do your shading analysis with a SunEye shading tool.  Do-it-yourself solar in Louisiana – maybe not.

I would really like for you to allow Gulf South Solar to install your system because I know that engineers appreciate our attention to detail, our design, our calculations, our drawings, and our track record of 11 years of solar installations run by an engineer.

All we need is your address and a copy of your utility bills to get started.  Is this something you would be interested in?

(Please read some of my articles in our Knowledge Base on our website)”



Jeff Shaw – owner

NABCEP Certified installer