As a homeowner considering solar installation, it is helpful to know the process of panel installation. After signing your contract there is a 5 Step process that happens before your solar panels are even installed on your roof. You have the right to the information involved in the process. Therefore, we have created a 5 Step Guide for you to know what to expect with your solar installation.
The average time for your solar panels to be installed, connected to the grid and producing energy for your home takes about one to three months once you have signed your contract with your solar installer. Solar installation doesn’t happen overnight or in a couple days as most people would think so here is the 5 Step guideline.
1. The First Step: A visit from the Engineer:
Soon after signing your contract with your selected solar provider one of two visits will occur.
You will get an engineer visit or a contractor visit to evaluate your home prior to solar installation.
An engineer will come by your property to evaluate the electrical compatibility of your home with the new energy system. The engineer will either be working for the company you signed your contract with or they will be an independent engineer directly contracted by that company.
The contractor visit involves an evaluation of the roof type, size of solar system that needs to be installed, angle of the roof, shade and sun exposure. They will, in some cases, also take pictures of the sight to show to the engineer. An engineer will then sign off on the job without coming to evaluate the home.
The evaluation process by either party includes checking your roof to make sure it is structurally sound to support the solar panels. The next thing the engineer will check is your electrical box, (the grey box located either in your basement or on the side of your house) to see if it has the capacity for the amps that will be moving through it for the new solar panels or if it needs to be upgraded. Along with the visit, your home will be inspected by your local town government representative. This representative will make sure the whole solar installation process will be done properly.
2. The Second Step: Permits and Documents Prior to Solar Installation:
There are different ways to purchase solar panels. You can lease, take out a loan, purchase with cash or in-full, or through a power purchase agreement with the government. There are different forms of power purchase agreements with the government. The State and Federal Solar incentives are; Federal ITC, PACE, government Rebates, SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certifications) and local solar programs.
There is a lot of paperwork involved in the solar panel process just like in most big financial contracts. Among this paperwork you will find financial incentives along with the building permits. Depending on the state you live in there are different solar installation requirements. For example; certain states require a certain amount of space between the edge of the roof and the end of the solar panels, other states allow you to cover the whole roof from top to bottom. Your installer will know which requirements apply to you and your solar installation. A great thing about the company you choose and the paperwork is that the installer will fill out the paperwork for you. Nevertheless, you should still know what is in the paperwork and contracts .
The time frame for this second step of the process depends on your installer and how fast he fills out the paperwork and gets it all submitted. Make sure you keep checking in with your installer so that things get done in a timely manner.
3. Solar Installation Scheduling and Equipment Ordering:
Before you can order your equipment you will have to chose which equipment you would like installed. This decision will be done before you sign your contract. There are multiple companies that manufacture Solar Panels. To pick the right equipment for you there are two things to consider; Solar Panels and Inverters. The company you are working with will most likely have a company that they mainly work with but make sure you do your research on multiple companies to make sure you pick the right equipment.
What you need to look for is durability, efficiency, aesthetics and price. Spend time researching the highest rated Solar Panels, Micro inverters vs. String Inverters vs. Power Optimizers.
Once you have chosen the equipment you want installed on your home, signed the contract, had your inspection, and the paperwork has been submitted and approved, you can order the equipment and set the installation date. The solar installation date is normally scheduled the day your equipment is delivered. Scheduling also depends on how busy the company you’re working with is.
4. Installation Day:
There are multiple steps to the solar installation process. The normal solar installation time frame is one to three days.
The first step is the roof inspection; the installer inspects the shingles to make sure they are all in good condition and that they are all attached properly.
The second step is to set up all the wiring that will connect the electrical panel to the general power system of the panels.
The third step is installing the railing that attaches the panels to the roof. This railing will stabilize the panels and will be the only thing attached to the roof. This is a very important step, the installer needs to make sure everything is secure so that the panels do not come loose and fall from the roof.
The forth step is attaching the solar panels to the railing. The installer needs to make sure the railing is level so the panels are straight and level.
The fifth and final step in the solar installation process is the installer connecting the inverters to your electrical panel. The inverters convert direct current (DC) energy into alternating current (AC) energy which is used in homes and on the electrical grid.
There might be one additional step and piece of equipment needed for the solar installation; this will add time to the solar installation. The installer may need to install a power meter for Net Metering. You should do your research if you want a Net meter installed or a SREC. Net Metering is a system of “debit and credit”. If you use more energy than you’re pulling in you will still owe, if you pull in more energy than you use than you will have a credit on your energy bill.
5. Solar Installation Approval:
The last thing that needs to be done in the whole process of having Solar Panels installed on your home is to have the local government representative approve that the solar installation was done correctly. They will need to approve the wiring, railing installation, panel installation and securing and that the whole solar installation meets the local requirements and codes.
Once your solar representative approves the solar installation, a representative from the local electric company will come and do a second inspection to make sure the wiring is done correctly to their codes and requirements. When given the okay from both representatives you will be all set and ready to start generating energy for your home. The whole inspection and approval process will take about two weeks to complete.
The time frame can be extensive depending on how much research you do before making your decision and signing your contract. Once all is said and done it will be well worth the wait.
Top Tier Home Energy is committed in providing the best quality solar panels with the most efficient solar installation time. Our team provides the highest quality customer service and will be with you every step of the way.