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Solar Panel Installation: Five Steps to Take into Account as Soon as You Decide to Get Them

31 August, 2018


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It’s a well-known thing that a million houses from the US already have solar panels. And the thing is that there are many more who are thinking about going solar in the future. And it’s understandable, since the cost of them has dropped a lot lately. If you’re among those people who want a Solar Panel Installation, you probably know the basic stuff, but you’re looking for more pieces of information. For instance, the fact that there are five steps to take before you go ahead and sign the solar contract for the solar panels to power your house, and there are many more things to know in this whole process.

 

We’ve written this article to show you those five steps that you need to take before the sun can start powering your home.

The process of installing solar panels

You need to understand that this will not happen in just one day, but this is an on-going process that has to happen if you want the solar panels to power your entire house. As it usually happens, this whole thing, from the moment you sign your contract from the moment they’re ready, it will take about one to three months.

The engineering site visit

You sign that contract. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a loan, cash, lease, or simply an agreement. An engineer will be there to take a look at the electrical position of your house and to make sure that everything’s okay and compatible with the thing you want to do, i.e. getting a new energy system for your home. 

This engineer probably works for your installer, but that doesn’t mean that an independent provider could not come and take a look if it was contacted by your installer. Remember that this happens soon after you’ve signed the contract, so you can expect him to come as soon as possible.

While he’s at your house, he will make an evaluation about your roof and its condition, to see if it’s safe from a structural point of view. He will also have to take a look at the electrical panel, which is the grey box from your basement – there’s a possibility you might need to upgrade it. In these cases, it means that the solar panels need more amps of current and that the ampere capacity needs to increase in order to work properly.

You need to understand that this is not just another general site visit which usually happens when the installer makes an evaluation of your property – he will not look at the size of the roof, the size of the system, the type of the roof or the angle or shading of the roof.

Also, it’s not unusual for the installed to take pictures of your property, as it would be easier for them to make their own measurements of the roof.

All the documents you need

If you decide to get solar panels, then you should prepare yourself for all the paperwork you’ll need to do. You might want to consider yourself lucky, since more than half of this paperwork is done by the installer. But that doesn’t mean that you’re good just like that – it’s a good idea to know what’s written in there.

One thing you’re going to apply for it’s the federal ITC, which is the state and federal solar incentives. You might also want to take a look at other local solar programs or some initiatives of clean energy, such as PACE. The SCRECs (or solar renewable energy certificates) are also a good idea.

After this, you’ll have to take care of building permits. They differ and they depend on where you’re staying. Let’s take a clear example: some states ask you that the roof has 3 feet of space which will surround the solar panels. Some other states will let you place the panels on the whole surface of the roof. It’s your installer’s job to know all of these things – the requirements and restrictions. He will be able to help you choose the permits that you have to fill. However, in many cases, he will be the one to deal with this paperwork instead of you.

This usually happens when your installer is done with them. We know, you’re impatient and you’re really looking forward to having the solar panels placed on your roof. To make sure you won’t encounter any problems, follow what your installer says and also don’t forget to look at the progress of your paperwork.

When it comes to ordering the equipment

After you’re done with the paperwork, the installer will be ready to order the equipment with the help of his primary distributor. When this happens, the equipment was probably already chosen and you already know what your system will include. This is what you usually choose before you sign the actual contract.

But you might still be looking for some pieces of advice. There are two components that you need to evaluate – the inverters and the solar panels. It’s probable that the installer will talk to you about this and will recommend you the best brands. Remember, aesthetics, efficiency and durability are the most important factors you need to take into account when it comes to making a decision. This is what you’ll keep in mind when you’ll be making comparisons between brands and prices.

If you want to be sure you’ve chosen the perfect equipment for your house, you need to dig a bit regarding micro inverters, power optimizers and string inverters. Also, it might not hurt to look at a list of the best solar panels from the market.

After the installer ordered the equipment, you’ll be added on the queue of your installer. The equipment is going to arrive on the day in which they’ll also be installed. This will happen after all the paperwork is approved – this might take about two months.

The time also depends on the number of projects that your installer has to take care of before you made an appearance. It’s good to keep in mind that in the winter, the solar companies aren’t that busy.

The installation of solar panels

This is a very big day for the owner. The installer will first prepare the roof and ensure that the tiles or the shingles are attached as they’re supposed to. The next step is to put the electrical wiring – they will connect the electrical panel to the general power system. After all the wires are in their places, they will have to install the racking in order to support the panels. Remember that this is the only thing that’s attached to the roof. After the racking is safely attached to the roof, the panels are placed on the racking. After this, the inverters should be connected to the panels – they will convert DC (which stands for direct current) into the AC (which stands for alternating current) that is used on the electric grid and in the houses.

The whole process can take up to 3 days, and it depends on the size of the system that you’re installing on your roof. There is, however, one more factor that can lead to additional time in this process, and that is installing a power meter for net metering. If this is the case and the installer needs to do this, it might take a few more hours to the process until you’ll have your solar panels ready for you to use them.

The last thing on the list

Congratulations! Now you have your solar panels on your house! The next thing to do (and the last one, we promise!) is to start powering your house with the solar panels officially. However, you need to remember that, before that happens, a representative from the town government will pay you a visit to see if everything’s okay – if the system works properly. Then he will give you approval. It’s no big deal; he’s just going to come to double check the whole thing – if the wiring is placed and works properly, if you’re safe on your house with those solar panels on your roof and if the overall work meets the requirements.

After this inspection took place, and you got the OK, you’ll be able to welcome the official grid interconnection. The electric company will send a representative to come and do their own final evaluation of what’s on your roof as of now. They will give you their OK if there aren’t any problems with glaring. Then they will connect your system to the grid.

Then you’ll need to wait about two weeks (keep in mind that, sometimes, you’ll have to wait even a whole month, it really depends) until the town gives its approval and until they give you utility approval to interconnect to make things official and start powering your house with the help of the sun.


 
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