With APS preparing to possibly change their solar rates again, and the 30% federal tax credit set to ramp down at the end of 2019, interest in exploring solar has never been higher. Of course, each home and its owners are different, which creates a lot of diversity in the systems we design and install, and time of year can play a big part in the timeline. With that said, we're often asked about the process of going solar. To help clarify a little, we've put together the following blog that breaks down the process of going solar solar into five easy steps.
The question of, "How do I go solar?" is one that many of our customers have. Solar is a complex and relatively new technology, and with it comes a variety of questions. We dive into this process below, so read on if you're interested in making the switch to solar.
1. Research qualified solar installation companies
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.
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. Solar 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 utility 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!
With the 30% ITC coming to an end, 2019 is surely the most important year for solar in more than a
decade. Contact one of our qualified solar integrators to start your solar project today!