The actual process to install your solar panels only takes a day or two. However, the work of selecting a solar installer and dealing with inspections and permits means that the entire process may take months. The average timeframe from selecting a solar installer to running a solar system is approximately three to four months.
Factors That Influence How Long It Takes for Installing Solar Panels
Many important factors determine how long it will take to get your solar power installation up and running.
The Solar Power Company
How soon your preferred solar installer can schedule your solar panel system installation after receiving the signed contract can vary. Some companies have many crews to accommodate a higher volume of clients than others. However, there are also those companies with limited crews, so they typically have a busy schedule.
If you’re short on time and you need your solar panel installed as soon as possible to take advantage of tax credits or incentives, timing can be a determining factor in your choice of a solar installer for your solar system.
Before you get your solar energy system running, the solar company needs to file a permit with the local government. The permits for solar energy vary by location, but it usually includes the following:
- Photovoltaic specific permits
- Construction permit
- General electrical permit
Depending on where you live, the solar permits required and how long it will take for the permitting office to issue your permits will also vary. This process can take a few weeks or even months.
After you install your solar panels, your municipal government will send someone to inspect your solar panel system and confirm whether or not it meets all applicable standards. Like the permit process, the inspection process depends on where you live and how full the government office’s schedule is concerned.
Size of Your Solar Panel System
After your solar permits have been approved and the installation has been scheduled, the actual installation can occur. Keep in mind that when you get a ground-mounted solar panel system, it will take more time because your land needs to be trenched to accommodate the required wiring.
Every property is unique, especially when it comes to electrical systems and roofing. A lot of homes are ready to have a solar panel system installed. But sometimes, upgrades need to be done to make your home ready for solar energy.
When you ask yourself how long it takes to install solar panels, the answer will depend on whether or not you need to upgrade your current electric panel, reinforce your roof, or re-roof before you start o install your solar panels. All these upgrades will ensure that your home can withstand the weight of solar equipment for decades. If upgrades are necessary, it will delay the process.
Connecting to the Grid
If you want to have a grid-tied system, the installer needs to file an application on your behalf with the utility company in your area. This will allow you to connect your solar energy system to the grid. For residential systems, this can take up to a month.
After you install your solar panels, someone from the utility company will inspect your system. This process can involve installing a new meter that will let you enjoy the benefits of net metering. Just like the approval process, the amount of time this process will take varies. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, it normally takes one or two weeks, depending on the schedule of your utility company.
Steps Involved in Installing Solar Panels
There are different stages involved in installing a solar panel system. Each of the steps is required and will take time to complete.
Finding a Trusted Installer
This is the first and most important step if you want to enjoy solar energy for your home. Choosing your installer will take time, and rushing this step will do you more harm than good. Picking the best solar installation company involves steps such as seeking referrals from your family and friends, reading reviews on websites, and asking important questions.
Get Multiple Quotes
When choosing a solar company, you should get multiple installation quotes so you can compare prices. This will also enable you to get a feel for the different installation companies in the area. Remember that the cheapest or most expensive quote isn’t always the best. You have to pay attention to the experience of the installer and the quality of the solar panels. This step can take months.
After identifying the contractors and receiving their proposals, the next thing is to review what they have to offer. A good proposal should have the following:
- schematic of the placement of solar panels on your property
- basic diagram of the inverter, wiring, meter
- list of equipment
First Site Visit
When narrowing down your choice of the solar energy installation company, request a site visit from the company. For this step, a representative will visit your house to assess your energy needs and how the space on your roof or property can provide what you need.
During this visit, the expert will also assess the angle of your roof, the condition of your roof, different shaded areas of your roof, and your roof type. This information will enable the expert to recommend what size and type of solar panel will work best for you. They will also explain various brand choices and financing options like cash, lease, loan, or power purchase agreement before giving you their quote.
This step can take one to two weeks. When you get various quotes, you can make a more informed decision. After you sign the solar panel installation contract, the real work can finally begin.
Second Site Visit
Before the installation company orders your solar panels, they need to ensure that your electrical system and roof can accommodate the solar panel system. The company will send an engineer or expert to assess your home. They will check if your roof can handle the necessary wiring and if your electrical system can take on the amps your future solar panel system will produce.
If you need to fix problems, you’ll find out what they are during this step. For instance, if you have an older home, your current electrical system may not accommodate the energy your solar system will produce. Roofing issues are also prevalent. This step may take one to two weeks.
Before the solar panels are installed, the right permits need to be secured because it is a construction project. This is also where you need to inform your homeowner’s association of your plans. The length of this step is highly dependent on the bureaucracy of involved parties and may take three weeks to several months. If your permits are denied, you need to start the process all over again.
Check for Available Funding
This step is also where you should explore any available incentives. Investing in a solar panel is expensive, and you should take advantage of tax incentives offered in which the government shoulders a part of your bill.
The biggest tax credit you can enjoy is the Federal Investment Tax Credit. Many local governments also have their own incentives. Several states, such as New York, Iowa, and Hawaii, have state tax credits. So ask your solar panel installation company for advice or contact your local government directly for more information.
The type of panel and mountings will affect the length of time needed to install solar panels. The installation company may need time to order stock, and this will add to your waiting time. If the parts are from overseas, you may need to wait for weeks. The design of your solar panel system also needs to be approved before you can move forward. This step can take one to two weeks and should be done simultaneously as the permit process.
Once you determine the design of your system and secure all permits, the installation process can finally begin. This is usually the fastest step since it usually only takes a few days. The crew will arrive at your house with all the necessary equipment to work on the wiring system and installation of the panels. If your system is not that large, it can probably be completed in one or two days.
Inspection and Final Approval
When your solar panel system is completed, you can’t generate power just yet. An inspector will visit your home to ensure that the panels are up to code. This step can take up to one week.
The purpose of the different inspections involved with your solar panels is not to delay the process but to ensure that everything is up to par with the permits you have submitted to the local authorities. As long as your installer did everything right, you can then turn on your panel system. This process will depend on how efficient your local government is and may take several days or weeks.
The Solar Installation Process Will Take Months
So how long does it take to install solar panels? Well, unfortunately, this process does not take just a couple of days. If you want to install solar energy, the entire process can last for months. Thankfully, most of the steps can be handled by your solar installation company of choice. This is why you have to review every proposal that you receive carefully. The majority of the process involves waiting for paperwork, permits, and other approvals to be done, and all of these things happen behind the scenes. The only part you need to be concerned about is being on your property during the inspection.
Every city and local government has its own regulations. So some of the steps listed above may not apply in your area. Or you may have to deal with other things like solar financing. But if you add up all the steps involved, plan for your solar energy system to take a few months to be finished. Then you can enjoy solar power for many years to come.
Go with a Reputable Installer
The ultimate way to ensure that you can enjoy your solar panels as quickly as possible is to go with a reputable solar installer. Look for a solar company that has lots of positive reviews. And do not be afraid to ask questions about how reliable their project managers are. This will ensure you are informed throughout the process and add the greatest value to your home.
For more information, reach out to the experts at Spheral Solar today.
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