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What You Need to Know About a Rooftop Solar Panel Installation

Jessica PirroJune 28, 20192150

Steps to a Solar Panel Installation

After deciding if the solar panels are the right decision for your property there is a process that needs to happen when it comes to the solar panel installation and it isn’t going to just happen overnight. From the day that you sign your contract with the solar installer, to the day the solar powered systems are installed and producing energy, there is typically a waiting period of one to three months.

Finding a Solar Company

The first step is to engage in a free consultation with a solar company to get some price and design estimates so that you’ll have a plan of what to work with. The solar company that you choose will send a solar installer so you can get started on choosing your solar powered systems.  

Choosing the Solar Panels and Solar Panel Inverters

The first step to solar panel installation is picking out your solar panels. The two things you need to consider when it comes to picking out a solar powered system is figuring out what solar panels and solar panel inverter you want.

One thing that you may want to research before deciding on anything is the different types of solar panel inverters and solar panels are on the market. Once you decide what you want, your solar panel installer will have a brand recommendation.

Property Evaluation

After signing your solar powered systems contract with the solar company of your choice, the first thing that will happen is an engineer will come by your house to evaluate your property. The engineer will typically work for your solar panel installer and you can expect their visit to happen soon after the signing of the contract.

This has to happen before your solar panel installation because the engineer has to check out your electrical and make sure that everything is compatible to switch to a solar powered system. The engineer will also have to evaluate your roof to make sure that, structurally it can hold the solar panels.

While the engineer is there, they will also check your electrical panel to make sure that you don’t need to upgrade it before your solar panel installation. If the engineer finds that you need to upgrade it, it will be because your solar panels will require more amps of current and the ampere capacity will need to increase.

An engineer evaluation is different than a solar panel installer’s evaluation. The solar panel installer is evaluating your property to figure out what system size you will need and to find out your roof type. They need to see the angle of the roof and the shading before the solar panel installation process can begin.

In some cases, the engineer won’t make a visit to the actual site. The solar panel installer will just take pictures for the engineer and they will be able to sign off so you can begin your solar panel installation.

Assessing Your Roof

The next thing you’ll want to do is figure out how old your roof is and what it’s made out of. If you’re interested in a rooftop system, the age of your roof is important in determining if it will live long enough to last with your solar system. If it’s an old roof, you’ll want to replace it beforehand. And if it’s made out of any weak materials, you’ll want to replace it with a stronger mater.

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The Paperwork

The next step in your process of solar panel installation will be procuring permits and documents. When it comes to the installation of a solar powered system there is a lot of paperwork. Lucky for you, the majority of this paperwork is done by the solar panel installer.

A lot of the paperwork is applying for state and federal solar incentives. These incentives include the federal ITC, local solar programs, clean energy financing initiatives like PACE, government rebates and solar renewable energy certificates (SERCs).

Filling out paperwork for building permits is another thing that is imperative to your solar panel installation. These permits are specific to where you live. Your solar panel installer knows the restrictions and requirements of the state that they are working in. A lot of times the solar panel installer will fill this paperwork out for you.

The paperwork approval usually holds up the solar panel installation process. It usually takes about one to two months to approve the installation.

How long this process will take really depends on your solar panel installer and how proactive they are about getting it all filled out and submitted. If you are eager to get the solar panels installation going, make sure you are following up on the paperwork process with the installer.

Ordering The Equipment

Once all of the paperwork is filled out, the next process for your solar panel installation is ordering the equipment. The solar panel installer will order this through its primary distributor.

After the equipment is ordered, you are added to your solar panel installers queue. All of your equipment will usually arrive on the day that you are scheduled for your solar panel installation.

The Installation

The solar panel installation can take one to three days, it depends on the size of the system that is being installed. If your solar panel installer has to add a power meter for net metering, this will prolong the solar panel installation process.

The actual installation of solar panels in the next step. The first step in this process is roof prep. This involves the solar panel installer making sure that your roofing shingles or tiles are all attached the right way. Then they will begin the installation of the electrical wire that will connect to the electrical box.

Next, the solar panel installer does the racking that will support your panels. When all of the racking is level and attached correctly, the solar panel installer then begins to install the panels on the racking.

Your solar panel inverters are then connected to the panels so that your panels can convert the direct current (DC) energy they are creating to alternating current (AC) energy, which is the energy that is being used in homes.

Power Generation

The last step in the solar panel installation is to start generating power from your roof. Before connecting your solar panels to the electrical grid your system has to be inspected by a representative from the local town government.

This inspection will typically involve them essentially double checking your installers work. Once this is complete your solar panels will officially be ready for grid interconnection.

An electric company representative will come to do a final evaluation of the solar system. Once they give it approval, your panels will go live. Once your solar powered system is live, your solar panel installation process will be complete and you will have solar power.

 

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