While you can install solar panels by yourself in California, you have to be sure you know exactly what you’re doing. That includes complying with all the requirements for setting up a solar power system in the state. Your designs and electrical installation plans must also be sound enough for the Building Department to approve. 

Before installing a DIY solar system in California, here’s what you should consider.

Why Go Solar in California?

Going solar in California is highly encouraged for all homeowners and businesses, regardless of whether you plan to install a DIY solar system or hire a professional. Going solar is mandatory for those who’ve just built their homes. Under California’s solar mandate, homes built or significantly upgraded since 2020 must have solar panels installed. Furthermore, commercial buildings must have solar systems starting in 2023. 

The mandate’s main aim is to reduce California’s reliance on natural gas for energy, which would also help reduce pollution. But going solar also benefits residents. For instance, a solar power system with a battery serves as an alternative energy supply during power outages. You’ll have access to local solar rebates, federal tax credits, and net metering benefits. 

Requirements for Building a DIY Solar System in California

Setting up a solar panel system by yourself instead of using a professional solar installation team requires a thorough understanding of the regulations you must follow. Here’s a rundown of the requirements for DIY solar systems, which you can read in further detail in California’s solar permitting guidebook

State Code Requirements

Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations contains the state’s building standards, including those for solar energy installations. The following sections of Title 24 contain rules relevant to solar systems. Your design must comply with each one to have your panel system approved. 

  • Title 24, Part 2 (Building Code)
  • Title 24, Part 2.5 (Residential Code)
  • Title 24, Part 3 (Electrical Code)
  • Title 24, Part 4 (Mechanical Code) 
  • Title 24, Part 5 (Plumbing Code)
  • Title 24, Part 6 (Energy Code)
  • Title 24, Part 9 (Fire Code)

Local Building Codes and Zoning Requirements

In addition to the state building codes, your county or city may have supplmental solar system installation regulations. Check first with the local government to discover whether they’ve made amendments to the state code. You’ll also want to check whether your property’s zoning allows for the DIY solar installation you want.

Building Permits

California requires building permits before you can start installing the panels. To have your application approved by the permitting agency, you must submit a full set of plans that meet state and local building code standards.

What Equipment Do I Need to Install Solar Panels?

Here’s a list of equipment you need for a DIY solar installation: 

  • Solar panels
  • Inverters
  • Racking
  • Performance monitoring
  • Storage options

Solar Panels 

These are responsible for capturing sunlight and converting the energy into direct current. Solar panels come in various materials, sizes, and capacities, depending on your budget. 

Inverters

As direct current is unusable, inverters convert it into alternating current for the electric grid to use. 

Racking

Mounting or racking systems keep your solar panels secured to the roof. 

Performance Monitoring

Investing in a performance monitoring device lets you better track your solar energy system’s output.

Storage Options

Solar battery storage lets you store away excess solar energy. This can be used when there’s no sunlight to convert or during emergencies such as outages. 

Safeguards for DIY Solar Panel Installation in California

You’ll want to use caution when installing solar systems yourself since you won’t benefit from professional expertise. Here are some safety precautions to follow.

Weather Precautions

Working during bad weather is never advisable. For instance, strong winds can push you or even your panels off the roof.

Roof Safety 

Before installing the panels, set up safety nets and harnesses to minimize the risk of injuries in case you fall. Furthermore, avoid working on a wet roof to reduce the chance of slipping. 

Protection from Electrical Shock 

Wear protective gear when handling the solar system’s electrical wires and cables to avoid electrical shock. For example, you could invest in electrical-insulated or rubber insulator gloves for your hands.

When Should I Involve a Professional?

You can install solar panels yourself in California, though it would be wise to consider professional assistance. Ask yourself first: Do you have the tools and know-how to get the job done correctly and without potential legal repercussions? If not, then hiring a service would be the better choice for you.

While going DIY is far cheaper, professionals offer benefits such as warranties and insurance. They also already have the equipment to get the job done safely. Moreover, they stay updated on solar system regulations and can better help you comply with the requirements.

For professional solar system installations, contact Current Home today. We provide solar panel and battery storage services for homeowners and businesses throughout California.