The Steps to Getting a Solar Panel Installation

Jessica PirroMarch 9, 2020 1859 1

Getting a solar panel installation isn’t going to happen in a single day. There’s a whole process that’s going to happen before your solar panel installation goes live. From the day that you sign your contract with your solar installer, it’s going to take typically between one and three months before your solar power system is going to be connected to the grid and producing energy for your house. There are going to be some steps that you need to take before you get a solar panel installation.

The Different Steps to Getting a Solar Panel Installation

Site Visits

After you sign your contract with your solar installer, an engineer is going to stop by your home to make sure that everything is compatible with your solar power system. This engineer is typically going to work specifically for your solar installer, but could also be an independent provider that is going to be contacted by your solar installer. You should expect the engineering site visit to occur very soon after you sign the contract with your solar installer.

When the engineer is out to visit your property is going to evaluate your rooftop to ensure that it’s going to be in good enough shape to hold your solar power system. They will also look at your electrical panel to see if you are going to need to upgrade it. If your solar installer contacts you saying that you are going to need to upgrade your electrical panel, this is going to mean that your new solar panels are going to require more amps of current and the ampere capacity of your electrical box is going to need to increase.

You should keep in mind that the engineer visit is going to be different than a general site visit. A general site visit is when a solar installer is going to come out and evaluate your property to consider the size of the solar power system, what kind of rooftop you have, the angle of your rooftop, how much shade hits your rooftop is getting, among other things before you sign your contract. Also, even though an engineer is typically come by, in certain cases the solar installer is going to be able to take pictures of the property and conduct their measurements of the roof and the engineer is going to be okay with signing off without doing their visits.

Getting Solar Permits

The solar installer should be the one that handles getting you the solar permits and paperwork that is needed for the solar power system that they are going to install on your rooftop. You will need to sign them but they are going to be the ones who submit the documents to the local agencies and utility for approval. They are also going to help you sign up for the federal investment tax credit (ITC) and any local solar incentives such as net-metering and solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs).

Depending on where you live and what is going to be required, this process can take a couple of days, weeks, or months. Certain cities and towns have been designated as Solar Friendly Communities or SolSmart easier - in some communities solar power systems can be permitted within a day of submitting applications. However, the process is going to among one of the remaining areas where a lot of people think the costs (which are called soft costs) may significantly be reduced. Your solar installer should be able to tell you how long the process should take.

Purchasing and Installing Your Solar Power System

Now that your property is approved and you have your solar permits, your solar installer is going to be ready to complete your solar panel installation. First things first, if your solar installer doesn’t have the solar power equipment in stock, they are going to have to place an order with a distributor. The solar installers can do this either before or after the process of getting solar permits is complete. Depending on how busy the season is for your solar installer, you can take place within a few weeks or a few months.

If you’re looking for advice on the solar panels, solar inverters and other equipment that will be the right choice for you, there are some things to consider. The two main components of your solar power system are going to be solar panels and solar inverters. Your solar installer will more than likely recommend certain brands and will offer a few alternatives. The durability, efficiency, and aesthetics are going to be the main components that homeowners are going to use to compare the different brands.

To be sure that you are choosing the right equipment for your solar power system, spending some time researching the different solar inverters and the top-rated solar panels that are on the market today. Evaluating your solar power equipment options can help you feel prepared for the ordering and the shipment stage of the solar panel installation process.

Once homeowners select their solar panels and solar inverters, they are going to be ready for their solar panel installation. The actual solar panel installation is going to normally take between one and three days to install, it’s going to depend on the size of the solar power system and the roofing materials. The process is going to start by making sure that the rooftop is ready for the solar panels and the racking equipment to hold them in place. The solar installer might have to install a new power meter that allows for the bi-directional metering of electricity, allowing for net-metering.

The solar installer will then begin installing the wiring for the new solar power system. They are going to install the racking equipment on the roof, then the solar panels. The next step is going to be connecting the solar panels to the solar inverter or power controllers.

Getting the Approval for the Solar Panel Installation and Interconnection 

The last step is going to be flipping the switch, and officially commencing to generate solar power from your rooftop. Before you can connect your solar panels to the grid, a representative from your town government is going to need to come out and inspect the solar power system grant approval. During this inspection, the representative from your town government is going to need to inspect the solar power system and give approval. The representative will also verify your electrical wiring was correctly done, the mounting was safely attached, and the overall solar panel installation is going to meet the standard electrical and roof setback codes.

Once this inspection is complete, you’re going to be ready to connect to the grid. Then a representative from your electric company is going to come by and do their evaluation of the solar power system. As long as there aren’t any huge issues, your solar panels are going to go live the moment that they will grant their approval for you to connect your solar power system to the grid. You can expect to wait two weeks to a month for the town to approve as well as the utility and for the interconnection to go live.

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