Solar Panel Installation Demystified

Many of the steps in a solar panel installation have nothing to do with the actual panel install, and involve things like drafting plans, getting a proper permit, setting you up for net metering with your utility, and organizing for the final inspection of your solar panel installation. We do a whole lot more than throw a bunch of panels on your roof. Having the experience to do things in the right order can save you time and headaches. At Precision Solar, we have the years of experience with local building departments and utilities to make your solar project go as smoothly as possible. Not just the solar panel installation, which we rock at, but in the critical steps that come before and after actual installation. In this blog I want to demystify the process. This blog will focus on solar electric panel installation, but in the future I hope to write about pool solar and domestic solar hot water projects as well.

1

Getting to Know you

At your own Pace:)

  • Initial Phone Consultation
  • Free Estimate
  • Free Precision Solar Report
  • Sign up!
Your solar panel installation starts with a conversation. One of the things people love about Precision Solar is our friendly, informative system designers and how much better they are to work with than the pushy, vague sales people at our big box competitors. It really is an informative and low pressure experience with Precision Solar. We’ll gather some basic information and use your historical energy usage to build a custom proposal that fits your needs. We’ll come out to your home and meet with you. The consultation is free and includes a comprehensive solar report with lots of great information. We think once you meet us and see our prices, you’ll want to take the next step and sign up!
2

Finalize Your Solar System’s Design

2-5 Business Days

  • Pay Deposit
  • Conduct Pre-site Inspection
  • Finalize Design
  • Drafts Plans to Submit for Permit
  • Apply for Net Energy Metering with your Utility
  • Schedule a Start date for your installation
Your Precision Solar system designer will take the time to finalize last few details of your project. We want to make sure we get your system sized right. We also want to lock in the details so your solar panel installation goes off without a hitch. If necessary, we will send out a technician to do a pre-site inspection. Once all details are finalized, we’ll begin drafting plans to submit to the city for your permit. We’ll also be contacting you to schedule your project!
3

Planning For Installation

1-10 Business Days

  • Submit Plans to Your City’s Building Department
  • Order your materials
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. In this phase we get everything in line for your solar panel installation. We’ll order all the panels, inverters, and additional materials. At the same time we’ll be submitting your plans to the city where you live. Some cities approve plans on the same day “over the counter”. Other cities have a wait time of up to 10 business days. The city where you live and how their building department handles permits for solar panel installations can have a huge effect on how long it takes to finish this phase. Thankfully, we have years of experience dealing with all the municipalities around San Diego County. Our permitting experts are the best. We’ll know about how long things will take depending on where you live, and we’ll keep you in the loop as your plans move through the permitting process. Once your job has a permit, we’re ready to install.
4

Installation

3-5 business days

  • Begin Installation
  • Finish Installation
  • Net Energy Metering Application Finished and Submitted
  • Schedule for final Inspection
Each of our installer leads has over 10 years experience in solar panel installation. These are our employees, not sub contractors. They know how to do things the Precision Solar way. We’ve got some of the best installers in the biz, people who were installing solar before it was cool. While installation is in progress we’ll be doing the necessary work to set up your net energy metering. This ensures your new solar system is properly tied to the grid to work with your utility(most likely SDG&E, but we do quite a few projects for SCE customers as well). We’ll also schedule for your city’s inspector to come out and sign off on the project. Typically this inspection happens the day after we finish up, and one or our technicians will be present to answer any questions you or the inspector might have before everything is signed off.
5

Finishing Up

About 1 week

  • Inspection
  • Permission to Operate Obtained
  • Final Payment Due
  • Turn on your Solar!
  • We set up Monitoring for your System
  • Give you Close out Documents
Your city or county will conduct their inspection and sign off on the official inspection card. Next the city inspector contacts your utility to give them the OK. Your application for net energy metering is already in place and typically within 24 hours of inspection sign off your utility will issue “Permission to Operate”. At this point, your new solar system is bona-fide and ready to run. We’ll do a final walk through with you and throw the switch. Now your system is on! Typically this is when you make your final payment and we provide your signed warranty’s. Any documents not ready by then will be mailed to you, usually within 2 weeks. We will set up one last appointment with you to come out and install one of our monitoring systems. This system will allow you to log in to your solar system any time you want to make sure it’s producing what it should. We think the ultimate production guarantee is you owning your system and have access to what it produces!

I hope I’ve cleared things up a bit and given you an idea of what does on with a solar panel installation project. Thank you for reading!

Picture of the author, Jeff Edelman, Precision Solar San Diego Solar Blog

Jeff Edelman is a Lead System Designer with Precision Solar, and contributor to Precision Solar San Diego Solar Blog

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