Over a million homes have already gone solar in the US, and many more homeowners are considering solar panel installation. If you are looking for a clean energy system like solar power, you probably want to know what happens during a solar panel installation or even how to install solar panels yourself.
There are several major steps between deciding to go solar, signing your contract, and getting your home solar-powered. Most of it is behind the scenes but the benefits of installing solar panels outweigh the hassle of going through these steps. To show you what you can expect, we’ve outlined a simple guide to installing solar panels for your home.
What to know before installing solar panels: Five Main Steps
There are five main steps to a solar installation that your chosen solar company will typically follow: the engineering site visit, finalizing permits and paperwork, ordering the necessary equipment, installing the solar panels, and lastly, the approval and interconnection.
- Engineering site visit
- Permits and Documentation
- Ordering the equipment
- solar panel installation
- Official approval
Complete guide for solar panel installation
Solar panel installation doesn’t happen overnight – there is a process of what needs to happen before your home uses solar electricity and potentially contributes to the power grid. In general, from the day you sign your contract with your solar company, it will usually take between one and three months before your solar panels are connected to the grid and producing power for your home. Here’s the five-step solar panel installation process:
1. Engineering Site Visit – The First Step to Installing Your Solar System
After you sign your solar contract, an engineer will come to your property to assess the electrical condition of your home and make sure everything is compatible with your new system. Photovoltaic. This engineer will typically work directly for your installer, but could also be an independent vendor contracted by your solar company. You can expect the engineering site visit to take place shortly after you sign on with your installer.
During your visit, the engineer will assess the condition of your roof to ensure it is structurally sound. They will also look at your electrical panel, the gray box in your basement, to see if you need to upgrade it. If you hear that an installer needs to upgrade the electrical panel, that means your new solar panels will require more amps of current and the amp capacity of your electrical panel will need to increase.
2. Permits and documents: the essential paperwork for installing solar panels
Like any other major decision concerning money, installing solar panels involves a lot of paperwork. Fortunately, the installer takes care of most of this paperwork; Regardless, it’s always a good idea to know what’s going on behind the scenes of your solar panel’s installation.
One of the main things you will apply for will be state and federal solar incentives such as the federal ITC, local solar programs, clean energy financing initiatives like Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs), and government rebates.
In addition to applying for incentives, he will need to complete other paperwork, such as building permits, during the solar panel installation project. These permits are specific to where he lives.
Your installer will know the restrictions and requirements of the states in which he operates, and can help you determine what permits you need; in many cases, the installer will complete this documentation for you.
3. Ordering the equipment: choice of panels and inverters and programming of their installation.
Now that you have the proper documentation, your installer is ready to place an order for equipment through your solar panel distributor. At this point, you will have decided on the equipment that will include your system; that decision comes before the signing of the contract detailing the total costs. If you’re asking how much does it cost to install a solar panel setup, you need to consult the sales team from the distribution company.
However, if you’re looking for advice on equipment selection, here are a few things to keep in mind. The two main components you will need to evaluate for your clean energy system are solar panels and solar inverters. Your installer will likely recommend a particular brand for each, and will also offer you some alternatives. Durability, efficiency, and aesthetics are the primary factors most homeowners will use to compare brands.
4. Solar panel installation
The actual installation is an exciting day for all solar homeowners who want to rely on renewable energy instead of a utility company. The installation timeline will vary from one to three days, depending entirely on the size of the system you are installing.
An additional factor that can add time to your installation process is establishing an energy meter for net metering. If you want your installer to add a power meter to your system, this will add a few hours to your solar panel installation.
5. Official approval
The last step in going solar is to “flip the switch,” so to speak, and officially start generating power from your rooftop. Before you can connect your solar panels to the electrical grid, a representative from your city government will need to inspect the system and give their approval based on the regulations for installing solar panels.
During this inspection, the representative will essentially double-check the work of your installer. He or she will verify that the electrical wiring has been done correctly, that the mounting has been positioned securely and sturdy, and that the overall solar panel installation complies with standard and setback electrical codes for the roof.
Now you know all about solar panel installation so if you think you can use this technology for your home or business, carefully consider the pros and cons of installing solar panels, and once you’ve made your decision contact a solar equipment one stop shop.