How does solar panel installation work?
The process for switching to solar doesn’t happen overnight. It may take weeks or even months to decide on a solar provider and an additional several weeks to six months before your system is fully operational. The amount of time it takes depends on a company’s availability and schedule, as well as the permitting and inspection processes where you live. The size and type of solar panels you choose can also affect the length of this process.
In general, though, solar panel installation occurs in five steps: survey, design, permitting, installation and connection.
The company you select as your solar provider will arrange for an engineer to complete a site review of your home as the first step to solar panel installation. Many solar providers, such as Momentum Solar, have in-house engineers. Others outsource the job to local contractors. The engineer will review your roof to ensure it can accommodate solar panels and inspect your current electrical system. This home visit will guide the design of your residential solar system.
Following an in-person roof assessment, your solar company will create a customized system for your home. At this point, companies will provide recommendations on specific brands and products and allow you to pick the ones that best fit your budget. You will also have a chance to review and approve the design before the company moves on to the permitting phase of the process.
Solar panel installation can happen only after obtaining essential permits and other paperwork. While this can take several weeks, the good news is that most solar companies will handle this step in the process for you.
Required permits include written permission from your utility company, often in the form of an interlocal agreement. If applicable in your state, the agreement will include enrollment in a net metering program. Net metering credits homeowners who own their solar systems for any excess electricity their panels produce, essentially billing them only for their net energy usage.
As of 2022, 34 states and Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have net metering programs in place. An additional six states — Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi and Utah — have other available forms of solar energy compensation. Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and New York have or are starting to phase out their net metering programs to another form of compensation. Alabama, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas do not offer net metering.
Your solar company will also need to secure local electrical and building permits. And you’ll want to make sure the solar company can file applications for any state or federal incentive programs to help offset the cost of your solar system.
While installation time depends on the size and complexity of your solar system, the typical time frame is one to three days. Installers will ensure all roofing tiles or shingles are attached, then connect wiring that will feed into your power system. Racks must be installed to support panels properly; then, your panels will be placed onto your roof. Support equipment such as inverters — components that convert the electrical energy from the panels to usable alternating current (AC) power — and batteries, which store excess energy to power your home at night or during …….