How Long Does a Solar Panel Installation Take?

A customer finally decides to enjoy energy independence and lower electricity bills. He is ready to start reaching out to solar providers to get answers to his questions: How long does it take to install solar panels? The goal is to shift to solar energy as quickly as possible to offset your electricity bills.

Solar Exclusive often receives this type of question, and here are the details of what clients can expect with their residential solar PV system installation. They are solar marketing experts who have been in the sales and marketing field for several years. They use their experience as solar contractors to get a business more solar installation leads.

The solar installation process consists of several steps to ensure that the solar PV system is faultlessly suited for your residence and properly filed in your town. The initial meeting and installation period is mostly between 90 and 120 days. The time frame can be as short as 30 to 45 days, depending on the permit process.

While you are not expected to be directly involved with the installation process, you must understand the project.  

  1. Meeting with the solar panel company and signing a contract. The process starts with a meeting with the in-house solar experts. In this meeting, you will discuss the benefits of renewable solar energy and your goals for going solar. In a follow-up visit, you’ll talk about the system options for your home, pricing, and financing options before signing a contract.

One of the first steps in assessing your site is to ensure it is ready and safe for solar. A professional site assessor from the solar company will visit your home to examine the roof and other features. Three key areas will be looked at: the existing service panel, roof condition and paper, roof dimensions, vent locations, and shading.

Your roof must be able to handle the weight of the solar panels. The electrical panel should be able to take the amount of energy that you want to produce. Nothing should be blocking your solar panels from getting maximum sunlight exposure.

  1. Design and Engineering. After contract signing, a solar technician will visit your home to fine-tune your solar energy system design details. The system should be ideally suited for your home, including the materials needed for installation. This takes approximately 30 to 45 days.

A team of engineers will verify the designs and adjust the plans to meet local code requirements. A design engineer will approve the plans to be submitted to the city for permits. Full support is provided for the design and engineering needs to minimize the time the city needs to review the plans.

Each project is unique, and every city has its own rules, regulations, and procedures. The engineering team’s main focus is meeting the city’s regulations and maximizing the client’s investment return.

  1. Permits and Materials. Once your system design is confirmed, a customer experience coordinator will gather all the necessary permits for the solar installation.

You will not be able to apply for a solar billing without final approval from your Building and Safety Department. This is the longest part of the solar installation process. You will need a Solar PV Permit and an Electrical Permit. Usually, it will take two to four weeks and may even take up to four months.

  1. Solar Panel Installation. After the permits have been approved, your coordinator will schedule your installation with the in-house installers. Installation is probably the fastest step – it only takes four to six hours, depending on system size.

Most home solar panels can be installed in one day. Installation starts with electrical wiring and finishes by installing the solar panels. If there are different roof plans, they could be extended over several days.

  1. Inspections and Commissioning. Once the solar panels have been installed, quality control will be performed. There will be inspections by the local building department as well. A city building inspector will visit the site to check if the solar panels were installed correctly based on the city code. This is very important because you need to ensure that your solar panels are installed correctly and safely. Installing solar panels is like installing a power plant on your roof.

On inspection day, a technician will be sent to your house to walk the inspector through the installation. Corrections found should be addressed right away. This step can take around one week or longer if there are corrections.

  1. Permission to Operate with the Utility Company. The final step is applying to switch you to solar billing with your utility company. They will inform you once they grant the Permission to Operate (PTO). Solar billing, or Net Energy Metering (NEM), is a billing mechanism that allows the Solar Photovoltaics (PV) System owner to store energy in the electric grid. When your solar panels generate more electricity than you need, the excess energy will be sent to the grid in exchange for credits. This process will probably take a week to a month.

Here are some factors that might cause a delay in your solar panel installation:

HOA Approval. Your Homeowners Association might want to be notified and may also require an approval process.

Main Panel Upgrade. A service panel might require additional steps to go solar and an additional electrical permit. The main panel upgrade also needs two to three inspections within the city.

Roof Repair. If your roof looks like it has less than ten years until it needs repair, roof repair is recommended.

Unpermitted Structures and Service Panel. To get city approval, they require that all of the work is done in your home.

Solar Equipment Availability. The availability of the panels may be affected by COVID-19. Specialized parts and stocks may no longer be available once you are ready for installation.

Planning once you go solar is essential, especially since the timeline covers months. The sooner you start the solar panel installation process, the sooner you can enjoy its benefits. These are just a few examples of reduced electricity bills, increased energy independence, and protection from rising energy costs.

If you are considering going solar and want to know what to expect, get in touch with Solar Exclusive. We meet the needs of our clients first. Our main goal is to deliver exclusive solar installation leads and pre-set appointments to energy consultants.