What are the costs and rules for DIY home solar panel kits in France?

The number of those choosing to install solar panels themselves is increasing

Rules may differ if your property is located in a conservation area
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Solar panel installations are increasing in France with the last year seeing over 200,000 installations across the country as prices fell.

This includes installations from both professionals and from DIY kits, which allow homeowners to set up the panels by themselves.

Read more: Why record numbers of homeowners in France are installing solar panels

Some 40% of all solar panels are installed using DIY kits as opposed to via a professional electrician.

Whilst self-installation kits may be significantly cheaper, they do come with restrictions.

Note this article reviews photovoltaic solar panels (those that produce electricity from sunlight) which are the most popular panels to be installed, and not solar thermal panels, which produce heat.

Solar thermal panels are usually used in combined solar systems, or to produce hot water for a property.

Installation rules for DIY solar panel kits in France

Self-installation kits generally follow the same rules as those installed by a professional.

There is usually no need to apply for a building permit (permis de construire), except in certain circumstances.

If you want to put panels on your roof (or on the ground at a height equal or greater to 1.8 metres) you need to notify the local mairie and announce the work through a déclaration préalable de travaux (DP).

This applies to the vast majority of cases as solar panels on rooftops are usually more efficient than those at ground level.

A DP notification can be undertaken either online or via letter sent with recorded delivery (lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception).

You should also consult the local urban plan (plan local d'urbanisme or PLU) for your commune to check if there are restrictions on the size or number of panels that can be installed.

Other rules may apply if your property in France is located in certain historic areas.

Read more: Can you have solar panels on homes in historic areas of France?

You will also need to contact Consuel for an Attestation de Conformité to confirm your installation is safe to be connected to the main power grid, which costs €180.

There are no specific rules which state kits cannot be installed by individuals and not experts, although if you want to install them yourself you should be competent working with electrics.

At any point if you are struggling it is advisible to contact a professional.

Costs of DIY solar panel kits in France

DIY solar panel kits are around the price of purchasing the panels through an official company and having one of their electricians install them.

The average price for a DIY kit including 16 panels is around €6,250.

These are generally capable of producing 64,000Wc (watt crête, or 6.4 kWc), which is about 1.5x the power consumption of an average household in France.

In comparison, the average installation for panels on the roof of a 100m² property is closer to €12,000 if carried out through a company.

However note that if installing the kit yourself, you should also expect to pay another €1,000 connecting it to the electricity network through your property’s junction box.

You will also be responsible for fixing any problems whereas many companies which install kits will include a warranty to cover any issues that arise within the first few years.

Kits not installed by an RGE-certified professional are also not eligible for a number of solar panel grants, including the CEE (Certificats d'économies d'énergie) bonus or through the MaPrimeRénov' scheme.

Read more: What aid is available to install home solar panels in France in 2024?

Selling surplus power back to the grid

DIY installers cannot sell surplus energy back to the EDF through the prime à l’autoconsommation and are not eligible for the installation grant attached to this bonus.

Kits not installed by a professional cannot sign up to the raccordement au réseau (grid connection agreement) with Enedis, the EDF offshoot which manages France’s electrical grid.

Some companies such as Oscaro Power that sell DIY kits have their own arrangement for users to sell surplus electricity. Around 60% of customers use the service.

This is not guaranteed with all companies so you would need to research this if important to you.

Note that in cases where the panels are professionally installed EDF is obliged to buy surplus electricity from you for 20 years.

You do need to subscribe to this, it is not automatic.

Read more: France solar panels: How do I connect them to grid and sell my energy?

Finally, be aware of the increasing number of scams related to solar panel installation, which are often related to self-installation kits.

Read more: ‘We feel duped by French solar panel firm’ - 12 signs to look out for

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