So you've decided to go solar. Congratulations! You are well on your way to increasing your home's resale value, reducing your carbon footprint, lowering your electricity costs, and making use of federal tax credits and state-specific solar incentives. That's a lot of perks for just one renewable-energy move.

Here, we will go over what the inspection and permit process looks like so that you can better estimate when you'll be able to make use of your residential solar panel system.

First, Choose Your Provider

There's a lot that goes into choosing your solar provider, including:
System costs
Warranty coverage
Estimated timeline of project completion

Plus, you will need to assess your current and future power needs so that you can ensure that you are installing a system big enough to handle your requirements. (See How much solar would it take to replace your energy bill?)

Therefore, be sure to review power usage over an extended period, like three years. That can help you better account for seasonal changes. Additionally, think about your future demands. Do you anticipate your power needs will increase? It may be better to opt for a slighter larger system to account for those future changes.

Sound overwhelming? That's the great thing about choosing a reputable solar company. They can help you determine your needs and assess the system size that will be the most beneficial for your short- and long-term requirements.

Not sure where to start when it comes to choosing a solar provider? EnergyBillCruncher has you covered. Connect with trusted installers in minutes and get on the road to a solar quote today.

Pre-Installation Inspection

Once you've chosen your installer and have assessed your energy needs, it's time for your first inspection. Your solar site inspector will head up onto your roof to take vital measurements. Those measurements will show the exact system size your roof can handle and will be used to draft an installation plan.

This is also when the professional will take an in-depth look at your rooftop. He or she will ensure it can withstand the additional weight that comes with a renewable energy system and that your property's electrical system can handle the solar addition.

Once you have chosen your solar installer, it typically doesn't take long for them to get an inspector out to your home, and the process itself only takes a few hours.

The inspector's schedule, of course, depends on the number of clients he or she currently has, so that may be something you want to ask about when comparing solar providers. You may not want to choose someone who can't get an inspector out for a month, as you'll also need to wait for the permits to come through.

Permits

Securing all the necessary permits is typically the most time-consuming part of the entire solar process. That's simply because there may be a variety to apply for. Additionally, many homeowners are making the switch to renewable energy, what with the impressive solar incentives that are available. Add to that a global pandemic, and it stands to reason that approval timelines have increased.

What permits are needed? Typically, homeowners will need to obtain:
Solar photovoltaic permit
Electrical permit
Building/structural permit

Unfortunately, the permit process is not something that can be started before you choose your installer and have an installation plan. You will need to provide specific details about your solar panel system in the application, like design specifications and proposed equipment.

The specific permits you'll need are dependent on the setup and size of your system, as well as the area you live in. For instance, requirements are different for ground-mounted installations and rooftop ones, and solar permitting requirements could differ from town to town or even based upon the neighborhood you are in.

The permit process has been known to take more than eight weeks, but that's been in large part to new systems that had to be implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic. It's believed that process will drop to just a few weeks once efficient systems are in place.

Post-Installation Inspection

Once you have your permits, the installers can get to work. This step in the process is speedy and could be completed in as little as a day. Installation timeline is just one more thing you'll want to discuss with solar companies before selecting one.

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What to expect for installation

Once the work has been completed, you will need a post-installation inspection. An inspector from your local government will come out to ensure that the installation is up to code and that all safety requirements have been met.

If you're looking to connect to the grid, you may need an additional post-installation inspection from the utility company. Once all necessary inspections are complete, you'll receive permission to operate your new solar panel system.

The Importance of Choosing Your Provider

Sounds like a lot of small details to pay attention to, right? The great news for homeowners looking to go solar is there are many solar providers who will take care of the inspection and permit process for you!

Since permits and inspections come with costs, those costs are likely included in the solar quote you'll receive. That's why it is so important to choose your solar provider carefully. If you don't want to go through the trouble of securing permits and tracking down inspectors yourself, find an installer who will handle it for you, or at least offer some guidance.