Now more than ever, homeowners and businesses are enjoying the energy benefits that come with solar panel installation. The benefits are many, including saving money on your utility bill, reducing your dependence on fossil fuels, and making your house a cleaner, greener energy machine.
While there may be some differences in your area, below is an outline of the solar system installation process. Some cities and states have made it quicker and easier to switch to solar power by streamlining the permitting process. In general, the process takes several steps and visits along the way. However, the actual solar panel installation process usually takes only a day or two. Most of the time needed to get your solar power system up and running is the time it takes for permit approval, homeowners association approval (if applicable), the final inspection, and the installation of your net meter.
Regional differences can make your own personal solar panel installation schedule vary, but the following steps will give you a good idea of what to expect. Our team streamlines the process as much as possible to make sure your installation is quick, easy and efficient.
During your consultation, one of our field energy consultants will take pictures of your roof, attic space, electrical panel and power meter that will help in preparation for the install. Shortly after you’ve signed your solar contract, a structural engineer will evaluate your home’s roof to affirm that it can support solar panels and the racking system involved.
Our design team takes over from there and determines where your panels will be placed and in what configuration. For those getting ground-mounted solar, the process works similarly, but without the need for a structural engineer's approval. Customers approve all designs, setting you up for the next step.
Our solar personnel will handle most, if not all, of the paperwork and permits required for the solar panel system installation on your home. You will have to sign, but they will submit the documents to the appropriate local agencies and utility company for approval.
This process may take a couple of days, week, or months, depending on where you live. Some towns and cities have taken additional steps to make the permitting process faster and easier. Called Solar Friendly Communities or Smart Communities, in these areas the solar panel installation can be permitted very quickly.
First, the installers will locate the electrical panels and attic access for your home and set up work areas. They may move some equipment or furniture to clear a path to the necessary work areas. They also take steps to care for your floors in their temporary work areas.
Their first priority is to prevent damage to your home and your personal belongings during the solar installation process. Then they will set up scaffolding and/or ladders to access the roof. City codes often require the use of safety ropes to ensure the safety of the solar installation team.
Your solar power installer will arrive on the scheduled day to install your solar panels. Since solar panel installation is not a one-person job, you’ll have a team – generally three to four crew members – who will help with the installation. After reviewing your site plan and installation specifications, they will unload and inspect the solar panels and any electrical equipment to make sure nothing was damaged during shipping.
The installers will mount metal rails on your rooftop that are required to install your solar panels. These rails are attached to the structure with special mounting bolts or screws to give your solar panels a solid foundation. And although these screws will penetrate the roof, don’t worry. Your installer will take care to seal any applicable holes as part of the installation job.
As your solar panels are being mounted on your roof, other crew members will start installing the electrical components of your system. These include the inverter that transforms the direct current produced by your solar energy system to the alternating current needed to power your home. They will also install the conduit and wiring required to connect your panels to your home’s electrical system.
Lastly, depending on the type of system you chose – grid tie-in or grid tie-in with battery backup – the crew members will install the batteries and connect them so that they provide you with backup power during an outage or when conditions are not right for solar power production.
The last step in solar panel installation is the setting and mounting of the panels to your roof and then connecting them to the main service panel. The crew members will carry the panels to the roof and secure them to the metal rails they installed earlier. They then connect the electrical conduits from your electrical panel and the inverter to the panels. Testing and final adjustment will be made to make sure the system is working the way it should.
Once the installation is completed, your installer will perform a final inspection of the installed equipment, including the mounting hardware, to make sure everything was installed properly. This also includes verifying that all roof penetrations were properly sealed to maintain the integrity of your roof. The installation team will close all service panels and attic accesses and return the furniture to its proper place. They’ll also remove any tools, ladders, ropes and debris caused by the installation process from your home.
During the next few weeks, your local building department will complete a final inspection to confirm that the solar energy system was installed correctly. Once your system passes this inspection, the utility company will put you on their schedule to install the net meter and connect your solar power system to the utility’s main power grid.
Net meters keep track of the excess power your system produces and ships back to the grid. Utilities buy this excess electricity and reimburse you with credits on your monthly bill. Once your solar system is installed, you can sit back and enjoy the benefits of cleaner, cheaper and sustainable solar electricity in your home.
Fill out the form to see if your home qualifies, and one of our energy experts will contact you shortly.
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