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Do You Need A Permit To Install Solar Panels On Your Rooftop As A Homeowner?

solar panel installation

If you decided to install solar panels in your home, you are making a smart choice to save on electricity and help protect the environment. Green living is the future, and installing a solar panel is a big part of that.

But have you been wondering if you need a permit to install a solar panel on your rooftop as a homeowner!

The answer is YES. Adding anything to your home, including photovoltaic panels, requires a permit, and ignoring this directive has serious consequences.

However, solar panel regulations vary from state to state, and it’s, therefore, essential to learn and follow the rules in your jurisdiction.

What Kind Of Permit do You Need To Add A Solar Panel To Your Home?

If you want to add a solar panel to your home, you need to file for a building or structural permit, an electrical permit, and a solar photovoltaic (PV) permit.

In order to obtain these, you’re expected to provide specific details about your projected solar equipment, whether it will be used for commercial or domestic purposes and the system design.

These requirements will vary by the location, size, and type of your solar energy system.

Local Rules And Regulations

Solar panel installation requires electrical and construction work. These types of work pose safety concerns, and hence your utility company and local government may want to ensure that your solar energy project meets the set electrical and building code before you’re allowed to up it up.

Therefore, you shouldn’t expect to walk down to City Hall and fill out a form. There are federal, state, and local building and safety standards that must be adhered to.

Even if you had a solar panel installed before, rules might have changed, and you still need to verify that you comply.

Your local electrical inspector might also want to prove that you’ve met the required electrical codes.

If you have home insurance, your insurer may also have regulations about adding a solar energy system to your home that you need to comply with to avoid situations where you’re invalidating your policy.

Size And Type Of Installation

Besides the rules in your jurisdiction, the type and size of your equipment will also affect your permitting requirements.

It goes without saying that you’ll need extra permits for a big, commercial solar energy system compared to when installing a relatively smaller, residential solar energy system.

Obtaining a permit may also become tedious depending on whether you want to install the equipment on your rooftop or on the ground. If you want to mount your solar energy on the roof, the structural integrity of your roof will be assessed to ensure it can handle the additional weight.

Similarly, if you want to mount the solar panel on the ground, you need a soil engineer because different soils need different footings for mounting purposes.

Depending on the zoning rules in your jurisdiction, there might be different laws governing ground-mounted and roof-mounted solar panels, and it’s important to find out.

These are often a result of the distances from your solar to the neighboring properties and how high you mount your solar panel from the ground.

Costs Of Solar Permits And Inspections

Before getting down to the cost factor, let’s discuss the 3 first steps to getting a permit before solar panel installation. Number 4 discusses costs.

Contact City And State Government To Learn About Their Requirements

The first step is to visit your state and city authority to find out what permits are required to install a solar energy stem on your rooftop. If not permit is required in your region (although very rare), you and your contractor can get ready to put up the system.

Gather The Necessary Materials For Submitting Permit

Once you’ve learned about what’s required, the next step is to gather the material needed. The documents you’ll fill out vary depending on your locality, but they can include:

  • Permit application
  • Site plan
  • Elevation plan
  • Construction plan
  • Electrical plan
  • Equipment plan
  • Location plan
  • Roof plan
  • Owner-builder verification form

Attend Meetings By Local Government

Again depending on your jurisdiction, you may be required to attend a hearing before being issued a permit for solar energy installation. These are, in most cases, zoning and architectural review board meeting.

They are held to address questions such as the type and number of solar panels you are looking to install, whether the solar panel will be visible from the streets, the structural integrity of your roof, whether you’ll exclusively go solar from then onwards, and more.

You can hire a professional solar energy system installer to handle this aspect for you, or you can choose to do it yourself.

Pay For And Pick Approved Permits

After everything is assessed and proved that you have complied with your state’s regulations, you’ll pay for and pick up your permits within a couple of days or instantly, depending on where you live.

Typically, the cost of solar permits and inspection usually depends on the size of your solar panel and local rules and regulation.

However, people installing a residential solar panel aren’t required to pay more than a couple of hundred dollars for inspection and permits. Some states have regulations to cap on how much the government should charge.

For example, Colorado caps residential solar systems at the cost of $ 500 and $1000 for commercial projects.

In California, the local government has the same cap for commercial projects and limits residential permits at the cost of $450.

Therefore, you should check with your local authorities to confirm the fee and what standard you are required to comply with.

However, in some cases, the cost of permits and inspection is included when buying a solar panel. You’re your solar company charge a turnkey price for solar installation; they often include the cost of the equipment, labor, interconnection, inspections, and permitting.

Solar Inspection Process

Solar inspection is required both before and after the installation of your solar panels. A prior inspection ensures that your home can handle the addition of solar.

After installation, a government inspector will ensure your solar energy system matches your submitted plans and t all codes are adhered to for efficiency and safety.

That said, here are steps you need to take to obtain a permit:

Initial Home Inspection

If you intend to mount your solar energy on the roof, the structural integrity of your roof will be assessed to ensure it can handle the additional weight.

Even if you want to mount the solar panel on the ground, you need a soil engineer because different soils need different footings for mounting purposes.

Especially if you live in an old house, you might also need an electrical inspection.

Planning

After passing the first inspection, it’s vital to start determining how much energy you’ll need. Typically, an average home requires about 600 square feet of solar panel.

You might want to consider how much it will cost you to buy the solar panel because you’ll be asked this when submitting the permit application.

Permit Application

In many cities, you’ll need an electrical permit and building permit and along with a separate solar power permit. A permit expediter can help ensure that you include the necessary information to get approved.

Purchase and Install

Next, you can purchase and install your solar panels. Take the electrical diagram of the solar panel during installation because you’ll need it when applying for your permit,

Final Inspection

After you’re through with the installation process, your local government’s building department usually sends a representative to conduct yet another inspection before approving your project.

This inspection takes place before turning on the solar panel system, as many utility companies will ask for documentation from local authority inspection before interconnecting your solar to a grid.

Power Up

In the final stage, your utility company will come to your property to check your system.

grid connection

Once they confirm that you’ve met all regulations and requirements, you’ll be given permission to operate (PTO), which allows you to turn your solar panels on.

Streamlining The Solar Permitting And Inspection Process

The best way to ensure that the addition of your solar energy system doesn’t violate any codes is to have a professional solar panel installer come to your home and access your building and projected solar equipment.

This professional’s finding will help you understand the permissions that you need and help you make the necessary adjustments to obtain the permits swiftly.

Many homeowners resist the idea of contracting a professional installer thing that cost will go down if they do it themselves, but that’s so untrue for several reasons:

Costly Repairs

Although your utility provider and the local building authority permit amateur installation so long as they can demonstrate basic knowledge of electrical and house systems, it’s wise to think about all the things that can go wrong.

Solar panels are a huge investment, and it’s best to leave the installation work of your solar panel to a professional. Nonprofessionals who don’t have the necessary experience run the risk of making costly mistakes and may fail to install the solar panel properly.

This will call for professional intervention even after you’ve wasted a lot of time and effort to give it a shot. You might also damage your roof, thereby requiring costly roof repair that your homeowners’ insurance might not cover.

Present Safety Issues

Working on your roof is a dangerous business. This is not a job for a weekend handyman; it needs an expert with proper safety equipment. A DIYer with no training might fall off the roof and sustain serious injuries.

They might get electrocute when the photovoltaic array is exposed to sunlight and starts producing electricity if they don’t know what they’re doing.

The other consideration is causing a fire. Faulty electrical work can easily cause a fire hazard. In most cases, the effect isn’t felt immediately, but over time, poor connections might cause fire, putting you, your family, and your investment in jeopardy.

Permitting and Inspections

The solar energy system permitting and inspection process is tedious and takes time. However, you can this process as easy as possible by hiring a qualified solar panel installer to help.

As an amateur solar panel installer, you might not know about all the permission you need.

However, a professional understands the regulations in your location and will provide you with a comprehensive proposal before your project starts.

They can help with the permits you need for residential or commercial projects, including building permits, construction permits, electrical permits, and permits from your insurance and electric company.

Typically, experts are familiar with the process for your solar energy system installation, so you can rest assured you’ll never be worried about unexpected expenses, filing paperwork, and inspection problems.

Financing and Incentives

Do you know that you’re eligible for a 22% federal tax credit if you install a small solar energy system?

financing-borrow

You might not know this if you’re not well aware of the benefits and regulations surrounding solar panel installation. However, the tax credit was 30% in 2019, 26% in 2020, and in 2021, it’s at 22% and will expire on December 31.

A professional solar installer knows about the incentives and will most likely tell you about them if you’re working with one.

In addition to incentives, there might be good solar financing options that can lift a part of the burden off your shoulders.

While every situation is different, the Clean Energy States Alliance has different options for homeowners that are worth exploring.

Investigate Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

A professional installer will help you determine your energy usage and consider potential efficiency upgrades.

Ideally, your installer will help determine the appropriate size of solar panel your family needs to be based on the following:

  • The areas solar resource and available sunlight
  • System’s tilt and orientation
  • System’s efficiency of converting sunlight to electricity
  • Other sources of electricity, like a wind turbine, a utility, and a fossil fuel generator.

Your installer also ensures that your solar panel is installed correctly, oriented, and tilted in a way that maximizes the daily solar energy produced and received by your equipment.