Can I Do It Myself When Putting up Solar Panels?


Using solar energy to power your home is a cutting-edge innovation. There’s a brand-new market of businesses just waiting to accept your money so they can assist you in joining the renewable energy revolution. If you research online, you’ll find hundreds of so-called “experts” and solar installation companies willing to help you. It doesn’t take long to learn how “complicated” it all is and how much we “really do need expert help and guidance” after perusing their websites and sales brochures. But could that possibly be true? Would the Common Joe learn enough to do the task by himself? If that’s the case, it might save a lot of money.

You’ll need some handyman experience to tackle a job of this nature. It’s safe to assume that installing a solar power system from the ground up will be more complex and time-consuming than hanging pictures or switching out light fixtures. You’d also need clear and concise information; after all, we are dealing with electricity.

Where do you even begin? People often conclude that a “complete package” offered by one of the many websites is the best way. One of these, Power4home, has gained the most notoriety. John Russel (yep, that’s “Rusel” spelled with just one “L”) is a Minnesota electrician and “solar guru” who has created a product consisting of an eBook and a series of videos that he sells online.

The benefits of Power4Home make it seem like a “no-brainer” at first glance. Homeowners can install a high-quality solar and wind power system with the help of the Power4home course’s DVDs and eBook handbook, which provide “simple instructions” for doing so. The goal is to enable you to set up your solar power system at a fraction of the cost that a solar energy business would charge to do so by supplying all the necessary background information and calculations (because electricity requires a lot of electrical and mathematical stuff that would boggle most of us).

This must be a joke, right? A cursory Internet search revealed some doubts about the Power4home system in general. Several people who fancy themselves experts have questioned John Russel’s mathematical prowess. It is widely believed, for instance, that he underestimates the number of solar panels necessary to provide electricity for the typical home. This made sense to me because I had always assumed that a home perched on a California hillside would require far fewer solar panels than one in a chilly Alaska valley.

As an aside, I’ve noticed that many of Power4home’s detractors use outdated or incorrect data in their arguments against the company. For instance, a common criticism was that he undervalued a crucial portion of the system. According to research, a “synchronizing grid tie inverter” is required to connect a solar power system to the grid (and sell excess electricity to the utility). John Russel’s detractors have put this number anywhere from $400 to $1,000. I just checked, and the going rate for brand-new ones on eBay is between $120 and $280.

Opponents of Power4home seem to agree that the system cannot be purchased at the cheap price advertised on the Power4home website and yet be expected to produce the outcomes promised in the sales video. Does this, however, make Power4home a poor investment? I’d say “yes and no” to that question.

Assuming the information contained in the Power4home course is accurate and is all you need to install a complete solar power and wind-generating energy system, how much the parts will cost you is not the main issue for me. After all, as with any project, I’d certainly see what I could buy and where I could buy it and add up the costs before I started work. Anyone who didn’t do the same would be asking for trouble. This would cost far less than a professional installer would want to charge me.

There are certainly competing products to Power4home. There are other online courses, plus a host of books written by a barrel-load of “experts.” I think an average but still pretty basic home improver like myself would be uncomfortable taking on every part of this project without help, no matter how well or well-explained the paperwork. I don’t have the expertise or confidence. Even the core idea of fitting solar panels onto my roof fills me with foreboding.

I’d be more likely to buy a course for information purposes, then find a local electrician or builder and run through it with him or her. Even if I went to a solar power installing company, I’d still want to know exactly what the process involved, and I’d be happy to pay the $50-$97 these guys are asking to give me this knowledge.

Before you go out and buy anything, I recommend you at least know the answer to the question: How Does Solar Power Work []? (Click the link for my take on the answer.) I also found an online Green Energy product I’m impressed with. I compare it to Power4home on the Power4home Report. I think you’ll find it revealing.

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