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4 Steps to Installing Solar Panels

Jessica PirroJuly 17, 20206170

4 Steps to Installing Solar Panels

If you’re interested in getting a solar panel installation, you must know all of the different steps involved in installing solar panels on your home. Knowing all of the different steps to get a solar panel installation can be helpful to give homeowners a better timeline of the installation process. 

Step #1 - The Initial Inspection

When you get a solar panel installation, you will have two different mounting options, a roof-mounted solar panel installation, or ground-mounted solar panel installation. If you decide to get a rooftop solar panel installation, you are going to need to make sure that your roof can handle the weight of the solar panels. Your house’s blueprints may indicate if the rooftop is able to handle a solar panel installation, but if you don’t have the blueprints, you might have to hire a structural engineer to inspect the rooftop for you.

There is a possibility that you will need to get an electrical inspection before you proceed. If you have an older home, the wiring might not be up to the current code, or if the service box limits the amount of electricity you can back feed to the grid.

But if you are planning on building a new structure to hold your solar panels, you are going to need to make sure that the new building is designed to be structurally sound enough to be approved by the building department.

In certain cases, a ground-mount solar panel installation is going to require soil engineering. If you have sandy soil it might require larger footings for ground-mount solar panel installations; and if you have rocky soil, it may not require as large of footings.

Step #2 - The Permitting Process

As with most big purchases, when installing a solar power system, it is going to require a lot of paperwork. But, luckily for the homeowners, most of the paperwork is done by the solar installers. But if you buy a car, you don’t just let the car salesmen do all of the paperwork without you having any idea of what is going on. This is going to be the same with a solar panel installation, you are going to want to have some idea of what is going on with the paperwork.

One of the main permits that you are going to need to apply for is going to be both state and federal solar incentives, like the federal ITC, local solar programs, clean energy financing initiatives like PACE, government rebates, and solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs).

Along with applying for solar incentives, there is also other paperwork like the building permits. These permits are going to be specific to the area that you live in. There are certain states that will require a roof that has three feet of clear space that are surrounding the solar panels, where other areas of the U.S. they will allow you to install solar panels across your entire roof. Your solar installer is going to know the restrictions and requirements of the state in which they operate, and can help you figure out the permits that you will need, most of the time your solar installer will fill out the paperwork.

The length of the process is going to depend on how long your solar installer takes to get everything submitted. If you are eager to get your solar power system up and running, you are going to want to make sure that your keep following up with your solar installer to check on the progress of your paperwork.

Step #3 - Buying Your Solar Power System

After you have all of the permits in place, it will be time to purchase your solar power system. At this stage in the solar panel installation process, you will already have selected the solar power systems equipment, this will all have occurred before you sign the contract.

Your solar installer is going to order all of the solar power system’s equipment. Once your solar installer places the order for the solar power equipment, the equipment is normally going to arrive on the day of your solar panel installation, this can happen whenever your paperwork is approved.

Step #4 - The Solar Panel Installation

This is the part of the solar panel installation process that most homeowners look forward to most. Your solar installer is going to start off by prepping your roof and makes sure that the shingles or the tiles are properly attached. Next, the solar installer will put in the electrical wiring that is going to connect your electrical panel and general power system.

Once the electrical wiring is complete, they are going to install racking to support your solar panels. After the racking is level and safely attached, the solar panels are going to be installed on the racking. Lastly, your solar inverters are connected to the solar panels to convert direct current (DC) solar power into the alternating current (AC) solar power that is used in homes and on the electric grid.

The timeline for the solar panel installation is going to vary from one to three days, this is going to be dependent on the size of the solar power system that you install. An additional factor that may add time to your solar panel installation is putting in a power meter for net metering. If your solar installed needs to add a power meter, it is going to add a few additional hours to your solar panel installation.

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