There is a process for what needs to happen to get panels ready to begin powering a home. Overall, from the day a contract is signed with an installer, it will typically take between one and three months before the solar panels are grid-connected and producing energy for the home.
Installing solar panels involves a good bit of paperwork. Most of this paperwork is dealt with by the installer, fortunately. This paperwork will include applying for incentives such as the federal ITC, and filling out building permits to ensure your building meets the restrictions and requirements for the state.
Your solar installer will start by prepping your roof and making sure the shingles or tiles are properly attached. Then, they put in electrical wiring that will connect to your electrical panel and general power system. After the electrical wiring is complete, they will install racking to support your panels (this is the only piece of equipment that will actually be attached to your roof). Once the racking is level and safely attached, the panels are placed onto the racking. Finally, your inverter(s) are connected to the panels to convert direct current (DC) energy into the alternating current (AC) energy used in homes and on the electric grid. The timeline for the installation will range from one to three days, completely dependent on the size of the system you are installing. One additional factor that can add time to your installation process is putting in a power meter for net metering. If your installer needs to add a power meter, this will add a few hours to your solar panel installation.
After you sign your solar contract, an engineer will come by your property to evaluate the electrical status of your home and ensure everything is compatible with your new energy system. They will evaluate the condition of your roof and electrical panel to make sure they are both sound.
It should be noted that this engineer visit is different than a general site visit which is when an installer evaluates your property to consider system size, roof type, angle of roof, shading, etc. before any contract is signed.
Your installer will be ready to place an equipment order through their primary distributor. At this point, you will have already decided on the equipment your system will include – that decision occurs before the contract sign. Once the equipment ordering process is complete, your property is added to the installer’s queue. Your equipment (panels and inverters) will likely arrive on the day of your installation, which can happen whenever your paperwork is approved (typically within one to two months). Time until install also depends on how many projects the installer has in their queue.
The final step of going solar is “flipping the switch,” so to speak, and officially commencing to generate power from your rooftop. Before you can connect your solar panels to the electric grid, a representative from your town government will need to inspect the system and give approval.
He or she will verify that the electrical wiring was done correctly, the mounting was safely and sturdily attached, and the overall install meets standard electrical and roof setback codes.
There will also a final evaluation by a representative from your electric company. Barring any issues, you will receive a go-live date which is typically between two weeks to a month.