A typical residential solar panel installation takes 45 days on average.
In reality, the timeline varies depending on the size and complexity of your system, the condition of your roof, local inspection, permitting processes, and your utility company.
In this article, you will learn more about the solar installation process and what factors can affect the timeline.
The Solar Installation Process
1. Signing the Contract
Before any work can begin, you’ll need to sign a contract with your solar installer.
This contract outlines the details of your project, including the price, estimated timeline, financial options, and warranties or guarantees.
Make sure you understand all the terms of the contract before you sign-if anything is unclear, be sure to ask for clarification.
2. Site Assessment
Once you sign the contract, the next step is for the solar installer to assess your site. During the visit, the installer will take a look at three main factors:
- Roof condition and size: the site assessor will ensure your roof is strong enough to support the solar system’s weight and big enough to fit the number of solar panels you’re looking to install.
- Solar access: the site assessor will check if trees or buildings could block sunlight from reaching your panels and decide the best solar panel position.
- Service panel: the site assessor will check the capacity of your home’s electrical service panel. If it can’t handle the additional power from the solar panels, you’ll need to upgrade it before the installation can proceed.
3. System Design & Engineering
Based on information from the site assessment, the solar engineers will begin designing your system.
They will calculate how many solar panels you need, determine the type of mounting system to attach the panels to your roof and adjust the system design to meet local code requirements.
This process is crucial for your system to be designed correctly. This will get you the best return on investment and ensure you meet all safety standards.
4. Solar Permitting
Solar installations require the proper permits before work can begin.
The permitting process varies depending on where you live but typically includes submitting paperwork to your city or county for approval.
Your solar installer will take care of this process and work with the authorities to get the permits approved.
However, the permitting process can add significant time to your project timeline—sometimes up to several months.
5. Solar Panel Installation
After the site assessment, system design, and permitting process are complete, it’s finally time for the solar panels to be installed.
The installation itself is a quick process and can often be done in just one day. The solar installers will arrive with all the necessary equipment and materials to complete the job.
They will first attach the solar panels to your roof using a pre-designed mounting system. After the panels are in place, they will connect them to your home’s electrical system and install any necessary inverters.
Once everything is hooked up and working, the installers will clean up the site and provide a walkthrough of the system.
6. Solar Inspection & Utility Interconnection
After the solar panels are installed, your local building department will need to do a final inspection to ensure that the system meets safety requirements and approve the permit.
Finally, your solar installer will notify your utility company so that they can connect your system to the grid and give permission for it to start generating electricity.
In some cases, the utility company may require an additional inspection before approving the connection.
What Affects the Installation Timeline?
If you live in a community with a homeowner’s association, you will need approval from the HOA before proceeding with the installation.
Depending on the HOA’s procedures, the approval process can take several weeks or even months.
Electrical Panel Upgrade
If your home’s main electrical panel is not large enough to accommodate the new solar system, you will need to have it upgraded before the installation can begin. This upgrade typically takes a week or two to complete.
If your roof needs to be repaired or replaced before the solar panels can be installed, this will add additional time to the project timeline.
Solar panels are meant to be installed on a structurally sound roof that will last many years. Therefore, it’s essential repairs are done correctly before solar panel installation.
Most solar installers can do minor repairs, but major repairs or replacements will need to be completed by a licensed roofing contractor.
Solar Equipment Availability
The availability of solar equipment can sometimes delay the start of a project.
If the panels or inverters you need are not in stock, it can take several weeks or months to get them delivered.
Your solar installer can give you an estimate of the lead time for the equipment you need.