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Permits for Solar Panels

Jessica PirroJanuary 13, 20201670

Solar Permits and Inspection

When you’re getting a solar panel installation, you should remember it is going to require electrical and construction work. This kind of work is going to come with some safety concerns. Due to the concerns, local governments and utility companies are going to need to guarantee homeowners that their solar power system is going to meet specific electrical and building codes before the solar panel installation goes live.

The process of getting the solar permits and the inspection process is going to be a bureaucratic, but necessary step towards getting a solar panel installation. Luckily, the solar installer that the homeowners select, will most likely handle all of the logistics regarding both as a part of their service. Here’s what you can expect when it comes to getting the permits and inspections for solar panel installation, and the costs that are associated with both of then.

The Requirements for Getting a Permit for Solar Panels

Before installing your solar power system, homeowners are going to need to get permits from their local governments for permission to install solar panels. In general, you should expect to file for an electrical permit, a structural or building, and/or a dedicated permit for solar panels. To obtain these, you are often going to need to provide specifications about your proposed solar power equipment and the solar power system’s design.

The required permits for solar panels are going to vary based on your location and type and the size of your solar power system.

The Solar Panel Installations Location

When getting solar panels, the permit requirements will vary by both your state and town, and depending on their respective codes, zoning laws, and other legislation regarding solar panel installations. You might have to obtain an electrical permit to ensure that your solar panel installation will meet a state-mandated code, while some local fire departments are going to require a set clearance area around your solar panel installation so that they will have easy access to your roof in the event of a fire.

The permitting requirements for solar panels might even differ form a neighbor’s in the same town. If you live in a historical area, you might need to get approval from your local historical commission to installing solar panels. Also, if you are part of a homeowners association (HOA), you will probably need to get permission to get a solar panel installation on your property.

The Solar Panel Installations Type and Size

When you’re getting permit requirements for a solar panel installation, the permits are also going to depend on the size and the type of solar panel installation. If you’re installing a large, solar power system, you will most likely need to obtain extra permits compared to the permits that are needed for a small, residential solar power system. The process of getting permits for utility-scale solar panel installation is often going to take the longest and cost the most due to additional regulations - because these sort of solar panel installations are going to take up the most space and handle large amounts of power, there are often going to have additional rules and processes that are going to require more paperwork and a longer approval cycle.

The permit requirements are going to vary between rooftop and ground-mounted solar panel installations. If you are installing a larger ground-mount solar panel installation, you are going to need to participate in a land-use review, but may not be subjected to building or structural permits required for rooftop solar panel installations. These zoning laws in your area may also set different regulations for ground-mount solar panel installations that can impact the permitting process, such as setback distances from neighboring properties and the height of the ground-mount solar panel installation.

Cost of Solar Permits and Inspections

Because solar permit requirements vary, so does the cost of solar permits. Luckily, most of the people installing a residential solar power system won’t need to pay more than a couple of hundred dollars for solar permits and inspection. Some states have regulations in place to cap on what governments can charge for permitting fees - Colorado caps the cost of solar permits at $500 for residential solar panel installations and $1,000 for commercial solar panel installations. California has the same cap for commercial solar panel installations but limits the residential cost of solar permits to $450.

In certain, you might not even notice these costs of solar; when solar power companies charge a turnkey price for your solar panel installation they will typically include the cost of solar labor, equipment, interconnection, permitting and inspections. You can alternatively check with your local government to confirm the fees and due for both.

Find Solar Installers That Are Experienced

Before you decide on the solar installer that you are going to want to move forward with, it’s going to be a good idea to ask them about their experience installing in your area. Solar installers that have capable project managers with a lot of experience should be well versed in the solar permit and inspection requirements based on your solar power system, local government, and state.

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