In an effort to reduce your energy costs and save money each month, you’ve decided to install solar panels. A wise decision, considering that solar panels stand to save you anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000 over their lifetime. Furthermore, you will be doing your part to protect the environment.
But before you go through with it, you’re likely to have some questions regarding the legalities of it all. And one of the most important things you should be asking is whether a permit is needed to install solar panels.
To ensure that you are educated on solar panels and solar permits, we are going to walk you through the necessary requirements to install a solar panel system. Failure to comply with regulations can make things more difficult and cost you more money.
Do I Need a Permit?
You will indeed need a solar permit before installing a solar array system on or around your home. In fact, you may be required to get a permit for any new addition to your home. Each state is different, however, so check with your local government to ensure that you are following the required course of action before solar installation begins.
You can get your permit from the local building authority, as you are adding new construction to your home. You will also need a permit from your local electric company to allow for interconnection to your city’s grid system.
Additional Permissions Regarding Solar Panels
Getting a building permit and electrical permit is just part of the equation. Solar permitting requires that you have your solar panels inspection scheduled by a government agency or your local energy company before installing solar panels. When you call to check with your local officials, they should inform you as to who will perform the inspection.
Conversely, you may elect to have a private entity handle any necessary solar panel inspections. Simply contact a local certified installer or the Clean Energy Council for more information in scheduling an inspection of your solar panels.
Roof-Mounted Solar Panel Installation
If you are planning to install a roof-mounted system, you should have your roof inspected prior to panel installation. It’s important to ensure that your roof is structurally sound and capable of handling the load of a solar panel array. Failure to do so can result in damage to your home, potentially costing you exponentially more in the long run.
You may need to hire an engineer who is familiar with home structures to inspect your roof’s stability. If you have access to your home’s blueprints, you should be able to tell if your roof is sufficiently built to support a solar energy system.
Ground-Mounted Solar Panel Installation
For a ground-mounted solar panel array, you may be required to hire a soil engineer to determine that your soil is safe for a solar array. This could ultimately save you from running into difficulties in the solar panel installation process.
If, for example, your soil is soft and sandy, your solar panel array may need large footings that are capable of supporting its weight. Conversely, rockier soil might not need footings quite as large to sufficiently support the solar array.
Even if you have installed solar panels in the past and acquired a permit, it’s possible that rules and regulations have changed since then. As such, always be sure to check with your local government to confirm any changes pertaining to solar panel installation.
Avoiding Unnecessary Fines
If you decide to forego inspections and a permit, you could be looking at serious repercussions in the form of stiff fines. Moreover, you will likely be required to remove your newly installed solar panel system, racking up even more fees in the process.
It’s always best to get all the information that you can from reliable local officials or installers. This is the safest route to go and will serve to be the most affordable, too.
Staying up to Code
Another possible requirement in the permitting process is the need for an electrical inspector to approve your home’s electrical codes. If you live in an older house, there’a possibility that the wiring isn’t up to code. This will need to be upgraded before panel installation can proceed.
Additionally, your service box may also need upgrading if it isn’t capable of providing sufficient electricity to the grid. Following these required steps will ensure that the installation is safe and effective.
As an insured homeowner, your insurance provider may also have regulations in place regarding new additions to your home. In instances such as this, it is vital that you follow all compliances to ensure that you don’t potentially void your insurance policy.
Some states may require you to contact your local energy company, as well. If you are required to do so, your local power company will come out to perform an inspection on your panels before you get your permit.
Should I install myself?
While it may seem like it’s cost-effective to do so, installing your panels yourself usually leads to missed permissions and greater fees. If you install something incorrectly, you will have no recourse but to hire a professional anyway, increasing your out-of-pocket expenses.
Are these permits free?
Unfortunately, you will need to pay for your permits. The good news is that some states have caps in place that prevent the government from charging too much for permit fees.