Homeowners Guide to Solar Installation
As a homeowner, it’s helpful to have a solar installation guide so you know what to expect in the process. There is a 5 step process after signing your contract that happens before solar panels installation begins. 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.
Solar installation doesn’t happen overnight or in a couple of days as most people would think. One to three months is the average time for installation completion. That is once the contract is signed, the system is connected to the grid and begins producing energy.
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 solar company typically has an engineer on staff. In some cases, it may be an independent contractor.
The visit evaluates the roof type, size of the solar system 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 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 to handle solar panels or if it needs to be upgraded. Along with the visit, your home will be inspected by your local building inspector. The inspector will make sure the whole installation process will be done properly.
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.
Like most financial contracts, expect a lot of paperwork. 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 to keep checking in with your installer so things can get done in a timely manner.
Solar Installation Scheduling and Equipment Ordering
Before you can order your equipment you will have to choose which type you would like installed. 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, Microinverters vs. String Inverters vs. Power Optimizers.
Typically your installation date is set for the day the equipment is delivered. The solar equipment will not be ordered until the contract is signed, and the inspection paperwork is submitted and approved. Scheduling will also depend on how busy the company you’re working with is.
Solar 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. The panels are stabilized with solar railing, the only part actually attached to a 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 fourth 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 guide to solar installation is connecting the inverters to your electrical panel. Homes and the electrical grid uses AC energy. So, the inverters will convert direct current (DC) energy into alternating current (AC) energy.
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 then you will have a credit on your energy bill.
Solar Installation Approval
The final step of having solar panels installed on your home is to have an inspector approve the work 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 a solar representative approves the solar installation, someone from the utility company will do a second inspection. This is to verify the wiring is done according to code. 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.
SunPro Solar is committed to being your guide to solar installation. We strive to provide the best quality panels with the most efficient installation time. To get started with solar and have your solar questions answered give us a call at 951-678-7733.