If you are determined to install your own system, consider getting some training. Coursework and hands-on exercises can walk you through the steps of designing and installing a PV system and allow mistakes to be made in a classroom/lab setting rather than during your home system installation. Several organizations offer on-site and online courses to help you get the basic knowledge you need (see “Charting Your Solar Course” in HP136).
While you can obtain a lot of system design knowledge from online and classroom presentations, when it comes to installation specifics, nothing beats hands-on training. These courses are not short nor inexpensive, and are usually geared toward individuals wanting to become professional installers. Often, folks who want to install their own system are the same people who are pondering a career shift into the PV industry. Training followed by a home installation can be a great progression if you’re considering entering the PV industry. The value of living with a PV system, for both homeowners and up-and-coming professionals, is priceless.