5 Easy Steps to Solar Panel Installation

Shannon Higgins

April 2018

SunV-Candid-214-1From saving on your electric bills to helping reduce your carbon footprint, installing solar on your home comes with many appealing benefits. Choosing to invest in a solar energy system is a great way to increase the value of your home while realizing a significant ROI. Each home and its owners are different, which creates a lot of diversity in the solar energy systems we’ve installed. No matter what size system you choose, or what utility and local jurisdiction you fall under, the process of going solar generally follows the same 5 steps listed below. Read on to see what your solar journey might look like.

1. Contact a solar installer for an estimate: Once you’ve decided to make the switch to solar, the research process begins. You can search online, ask a friend for a referral, or look at certified independent contractors. Modern solar panels are designed to operate for many decades, so the relationship with your solar contractor is one that will last for many years. Do your due diligence to ensure you’re selecting a solar partner who’s knowledgeable about local rate programs, and secure enough to be around for the life of your investment.

Most reputable solar installers will offer a free, no obligation quote. They will begin the quoting process by asking you a series of questions about your home, like electricity bill history, the type and age of your roof, and specific questions about your utility provider and rate plan. The installer should also provide you with different financing options and help you learn about federal, state, and local incentives you may be eligible for, like the 30 percent federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) and the Residential Arizona Solar Tax Credit.

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2. Home and site evaluation: After you have your initial consultation with a solar installer and a preliminary estimate, the next step is to schedule a detailed site and home evaluation. During this phase, the installer will inspect your roof, your home’s electrical system, and perform a complete shade analysis. The goal is to gather all the necessary data points to proceed to the design phase.

3. Design and permitting: Using the data collected during the on-site evaluation, your installer will create a fully custom and detailed system designed specifically for your home and energy goals. This will include the number of panels, orientation, the wiring of the system, and how it will be connected to the grid, as well as a projected energy offset. Your installer will be responsible for submitting these designs to your city/county permitting departments, as well as your local power utility. Timing of this phase varies and can last for several weeks depending on the time of year and backlog at local jurisdictions and utilities. A reputable installer should have strong relationships with these important offices and keep you fully up to date.

4. Installation: This is probably one of the most exciting steps in the solar process. After all, it’s here that you finally start to see the physical benefit of your investment. It may be necessary for you to be present during installation in order to grant access to your yard and/or roof. Be sure to safely secure any pets as well. The install crew can answer any questions you might have about the wiring, placement, or process of the installation. This step can last from one to three days depending on the size and complexity of your system.

5. Inspection and Commissioning: You’re almost there! During this step, your local utility and jurisdiction will inspect your system to ensure it was installed in accordance with local codes and your granted permit. Similar to the design and permitting stage, this final part can vary from a few days to several weeks depending on local utility and jurisdiction timeframes.

- Once the utility signs off on the installation, the interconnection to the grid will be done. It’s time for your installer to flip the switch and for you to start saving on your electric bills. Congratulations, you’re now cashing in your piece of the sun!

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ontact one of our solar experts for a custom solar quote. If you aren't quite ready for a quote, you can download our complimentary whitepaper: Is Solar Right for You?

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