Four Things to Consider Before Taking on a Solar Project on Your Own

Solar is becoming an increasingly popular option for businesses wishing to increase their sustainability and resiliency through the installation of a solar array on their property. The rapid growth is driven, in part, by the impression that solar is “easy” which has led many businesses to the conclusion that installing, owning, and operating their system is a good use of internal resources.

While it is true that solar systems may be more straightforward than other types of power generation assets, each step of the design, construction, and operation process presents unique pitfalls, particularly for those with no prior experience in solar. Some of the common issues solar owners can face include:

  • Design Issues
  • Construction Issues
  • Operational Issues
  • Commercial Issues

Design Issues

Many important factors must be considered in the design phase of a solar project. Issues such as the appropriate project size, equipment selection, design layout, and permitting requirements can have significant impacts on cost and long-term project performance. Having the technical expertise to properly evaluate these issues and make the appropriate choice is a big determinant of project success and the lifespan of the unit.

Construction Issues

A myriad of issues may arise during construction including unexpected complications at the site, equipment availability and delivery, and labor shortages or scheduling issues.  Many solar projects also require significant up-front sight preparation to ensure long-term asset performance.  Scheduling and coordinating all of these activities to occur at the right time and sequence is critical for realizing expected project economic benefits.

Having the experience to evaluate problems in real time and identify the correct course of action can save weeks or months of schedule delays and tens of thousands of dollars in cost overruns. If a solar project has any aspect overlooked, it can not only be costly concerning time and dollars but can also cause safety concerns for everyone involved.

Operational Issues

Solar systems include several potential points of failure that can take some of the systems down for extended periods. Having the technical expertise to quickly troubleshoot and identify issues is critical to recognizing the full value potential of a solar system. And since solar systems are long-lived assets, with typical lives of 25 or 30 years, they are frequently impacted by changes in their surroundings that occur over that time and require regular preventative maintenance to sustain performance levels.

Commercial Issues

Solar sites typically include multiple commercial arrangements that need to be managed and maintained over the life of the project. These include installation and service warranties, service agreements, environmental permits, registration, and reporting of renewable energy credits (RECs), and many other items.

Without the help of a partner, the internal process would be to hire one or more firms to design, build and operate a solar facility for your business.  This would entail a significant investment of internal resources to vet and select contractors and vendors, monitor their performance, and manage contracts some of which will be in place for many years. With a trusted partner, businesses can look to one relationship to take care of all these issues, greatly reducing the administrative and management burden and simplifying the process of the transition to solar.


Interest in solar energy systems will continue to increase as more businesses recognize the benefits they can bring. But as we have seen, many technical and commercial factors must be optimized to realize the promise of solar. To ensure that your system is designed and installed correctly, it is recommended to seek out professional advice.

Working with an experienced partner like AEP OnSite Partners not only helps customers get the full value out of a solar installation but also greatly simplifies the customer experience by having one single contact for all issues that may arise, allowing the business to focus on what they do best.

To learn more about onsite solar, please contact your AEP Energy Sales Representative, they will happily provide more information about these solutions. Not currently working with an AEP Energy Sales Representative? Click here to request more information.

AEP Energy does not guarantee the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, freedom from error, or value of any information herein. The information presented is provided “as is”, “as available”, and for informational purposes only, speaks only to events or circumstances on or before the date it is presented, and should not be construed as advice, a recommendation, or a guarantee of future results. AEP Energy disclaims any and all liabilities and warranties related hereto, including any obligation to update or correct the information herein. Summaries and website links included herein (collectively, “Links”) are not under AEP Energy’s control and are provided for reference only and not for commercial purposes. AEP Energy does not endorse or approve of the Links or related information and does not provide any warranty of any kind or nature related thereto.

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