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What Happens During the Solar Panel Installation Process

By: Eric Huesca, SEO Content Writer

January 26, 2023

On a warm and sunny day, it can be difficult to ignore the energizing light waves pouring in through your doors and windows. But what if the same doors and windows in your home were to start harnessing that energy and convert it into a clean, renewable, and sustainable power?

This is precisely the idea solar power is centered around. Solar panel systems can be a brilliant way of generating electricity for homes like yours. 

Solar energy is affordable and eco-friendly, making it a viable option amongst homeowners looking to cut down their energy bills and minimize their carbon footprint. 


Solar installation on an aluminum garage roof.

There are numerous reasons why solar panels have become an essential need for homeowners everywhere.

Some of these reasons are as follows:

  • Reduced electricity bills
  • Reduced noise pollution
  • Less dependence on fossil fuels
  • Environment-friendly
  • Enhanced property value
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Provision of rebates
  • Guaranteed performance
  • Ease of installation
  • Make your home more energy-efficient

So, the smart choice for homeowners is to switch to solar. However, an entire process rests behind solar panel installation in your home. This involves experts performing a site evaluation, followed by getting a green signal from the city to proceed with the solar panel installation before finally installing, testing, and inspecting the solar panel systems in your home.

The great news is that homeowners like you do not have to do anything or even lift a finger during the solar panel installation, as you can leave it to the experts to take care of everything. But it will help you to know exactly what is happening at every step. 

Site Assessment and Design

Indeed, going solar is a huge and multi-step process that involves multiple overlapping tasks. Fortunately, an experienced and reliable installer will guide you every step of the way and take care of everything for you. The process starts with choosing a reliable and trustworthy company to install solar panels in your home.

A solar panel installation company will evaluate your property to determine the best location for your solar panels and design a system that fits your energy needs. As a homeowner, it’s best to look around and gather an estimate from different installers to ensure you’re getting a fair deal.

Once you’ve selected your installer, the first step of the solar panel installation begins. The first step is usually a combined stage that consists of site assessment and design. This straightforward step mainly focuses on reviewing, signing, and approving various documents.

Together, the installer will address your queries, clarify your objectives, identify different buying options and incentives, and summarize the entire solar panel installation process, putting you in the driver’s seat for whatever is about to come.  

During the site evaluation, the installer will visit your home and tour the site to verify the planned system design. For instance, the installer will inspect your home’s attic and roof, the battery placement (if applicable), and the electrical setup, review your property and identify specific requirements in your area.

When the site assessment results come up, whatever changes are required need approval. If there were any modifications from the original design, you’d need to review those changes and provide feedback or approve the final design before your installer sends it for permit approval.

Everything from the design aesthetics to the system production to the electrical work will be checked and granted approval. Here is what this the site evaluation and design, and concept phase usually look like:

●    Introductory Meetings (1-2 Hours)

Speak with a sales rep to review different options for going solar. Ask questions, discuss your options, concerns, and comments, and see if it makes sense for your home. 

●    Site Survey (30 Minutes)

For the majority of the people, the site survey can be done virtually via a phone camera or a similar mobile device. During the survey, the installer will guide you through multiple things and questions you need to photograph so that ample information can be gathered to finalize the design. 

●    Contract Review and Signing (1 Hour)

Everything, such as the design, financing details, pricing, site improvements, storage options, etc., will typically be outlined in your contract. For the majority of homeowners, it can take around 1 hour to review all these documents and sign them.

●    Document Review (1-2 Days)

Once your contract is signed, the installation team will thoroughly review the documents for accuracy and completion before finalizing and approving your agreement. 

●    Engineering Design (1 Week)

The design and engineering team will carefully evaluate the submitted information, along with the solar regulations in your district and mapping data on your roof, to set up the ideal solar power system for optimum performance and substantial savings in the long run. In some situations, it can comprise an in-person site audit to detect and address any remaining concerns. 

Obtaining Permits and Approvals

Permit approval is vital for anyone installing a solar panel system as it makes sure everyone complies with the necessary safety codes (structural, electrical, and fire). The solar panel installation company will send permitting documents like the agreed-upon design in the former stage to the city for approval.

The permit applications have attached fees that differ in terms of states and cities. Still, there are certain restrictions on how much your respective city charges, with the cost being $500 for the majority of the states. 

Your solar panel installer will work on your behalf to pilot all the utility paperwork, municipal and state requirements, and homeowners associations to transition your project from the site evaluation and design phase to installation with the utmost efficiency.

Generally, the permitting process can take around 2-4 weeks to complete. Still, it can vary from instantaneous to more than 6 weeks. Nonetheless, the installer will define the requirements (according to your area) and secure all the required approvals and permits. Rest assured, you’ll have to do anything yourself.

This particular step can be incredibly stressful, so the installer must do whatever it takes to expedite the process. Throughout this process, the installer must keep you well informed regarding where your solar panel installation project is at in the process.

Still, you must keep patience as sometimes there is not much the company or you can do except wait for a response from your local permitting office. Once the installer receives the approved permits, you might need to get utility approval and finalize site enhancements before installation begins. 

Installation of the Solar Panel System

The installation of solar panels takes a day, or two, at most, and homeowners might not even be required to be present at home during the installation. This is where you need to trust the professionals to do their job while you sit, relax, and watch.

During the installation, you’ll most likely need to have the power in your home turned off for a few hours. Here are steps that you’ll witness during the installation process. 

●    Step 1: Mount Installation

The installer’s first step is fixing the mounts that’ll support the solar panels. The installation team will mount the solar panels to the ground or the roof and connect them to the electrical grid. Whether you opt for a roof, ground, or flush mount, this base structure aims to provide sturdiness and support.

Special care needs to be taken regarding the direction in which the PV panels (polycrystalline or monocrystalline) will be installed. For instance, countries in the Northern Hemisphere might observe that the South is the best way to face their solar panels as it gets the most sunlight.

However, the West and East directions will also work just fine. On the other hand, the North is the best direction for countries in the Southern Hemisphere. Once again, the mounting structure should be slightly tilted, with the angle ranging between 18-36 degrees. 

●    Step 2: Install the Solar Panels

The installer will fix the solar panels with the mounting structure using tightening nuts and bolts. Special care must be taken to ensure the entire structure is adequately secured so that the solar panels are sturdy and last long. 

●    Step 3: Do Electrical Wiring

After this, it’s time to do the electrical wiring. Typically, universal connectors such as MC4 are used during wiring since these connectors tend to work well and can be easily connected with all types of solar panels. These solar panels can be electrically wired and connected with one another in the following series:

  • Series Connection: In this scenario, one photovoltaic module’s positive (+) wire is connected to the another module’s negative (-) wire. This particular type of wiring boosts the voltage match with the battery bank. 
  • Parallel Connection: In this scenario, the connection can be negative (-) to negative (-) and positive (+) to positive (+). As a result, the wiring voltage of each panel tends to stay the same.

●       Step 4: Connect the Solar Battery and Solar Inverter

Next, it’s time to connect the system to a solar battery and inverter. The negative wire from the solar panel is linked to the inverter’s negative terminal, and the positive wire is attached to the inverter’s positive terminal. A battery is required to store the solar power backup in an off-grid solar system. 

●    Step 5: Connect Solar Inverter to the Grid

The solar inverter is then linked to the grid to generate power. This connection can be made using a normal plug to connect to the main power switchboard. An output wire is attached to the power board that is responsible for supplying electricity to your home. 

●    Step 6: Start Solar Inverter

Once all the connections and electrical wiring are completed, it’s time for the installer to turn the inverter switch ON the home’s main switch. Most solar inverters will have a digital display that will show all the stats regarding solar unit electricity generation and consumption. 

Testing and Inspection

After the solar panel installation is complete, the installation team will test and inspect the system to ensure everything is working correctly and meets all the codes and requirements, zoning laws, and safety regulations. This includes your area’s building, electrical, and fire codes. 

The homeowner or the installer applies for a utility connection revealing the contract and the scope of work that’s been installed. The utility representative will inspect the project to ensure it complies with the utility guidelines and ensure everything has been done in alignment with the scope of the permitted work.

They might also upgrade the meter if required for net metering. The fee for this inspection process and application for some utilities is $0. For others, it can be a few hundred bucks. This cost is incorporated into the contract price for turnkey installations. After getting approval or permission to operate (PTO), you can turn on your solar panel system and generate energy. 

The testing and inspection phase of the solar panel installation process plays a vital role in ensuring the solar panel system is delivering the promised performance and if some tweaking or necessary adjustments are required.

If you choose a fixed solar panel system and it calls for adjustments, the installer might need to slightly move the panels to optimize sun exposure and prevent hurdles that were not evident during the site survey.

Moreover, they will take the time to explain all you need regarding your new solar panel system and draw up a maintenance schedule to ensure its maximum durability and protection. 

Even though some jurisdictions might call for an inspection mid-way during the installation, all jurisdictions will necessitate a final testing and inspection before you power your solar panel system and start saving on electricity costs.

Either way, the solar panel installation company will take care of all the logistics and notify you when the inspection will be scheduled. 

Maintenance and Monitoring

After the solar panel installation is done and dusted, the installation company will guide you in detail and provide instructions on how you can maintain your system. They will even offer monitoring services to ensure your solar panel system continues operating efficiently.

Besides keeping the core components clean and free from dirt and debris, the majority of home solar panel installations do not call for routine maintenance. Moreover, unlike wind turbines and geothermal, solar panel systems do not comprise any moving parts that can burn out.

Now all that’s left is for the installation company to offer on-site service and monitor your system’s performance to ensure it produces the solar energy you need. 

●    How Long Does a Solar Panel Installation Last?

Even though a solar panel system’s longevity varies from model to model, a new set of solar panels typically tend to last 30 years or more with manufacturer-specified maintenance. It is vital to note that with each passing year, solar panels lose a tiny amount of efficiency.

Still, it’s less than 1% of their overall capacity. After 25 years, the average panel will generate 85 to 87% of its original minimum peak power rating, which is why the majority of manufacturers offer a 20 to 25-year warranty. 

Solar mounting systems are typically composed of top-grade stainless steel and aluminum. Hence, you also do not need to worry about rust and corrosion. In addition, they are protected beneath the solar modules and usually have a similar warranty.

The solar inverter is generally seen as a weak link. Hence, working with a reliable and renowned solar panel installation company that is warrantied for a minimum of 10 years is crucial. Also, bear in mind that manufacturers usually offer a 25-year warranty on microinverters. 

Qualifications and Eligibility for the Government Solar Tax Credit

Even though installing your own solar panel system can be costly and intimidating, it can help you save substantial sums of money in the long run. There are numerous state, local, and federal benefits that can earn you your valuable money back for installing a qualifying system.

Moreover, multiple tax credits and rebates are available that help encourage homeowners to take the leap and generate renewable energy.

What Is the Federal Solar Tax Credit?

Solar panel installation grants you a government solar tax credit, indicating you’ll receive a credit for your income taxes that can help minimize your tax bill. The solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was endorsed by the federal government in 2006.

Since then, the US solar industry has evolved by over 10,000%, with an annual growth of 50% over the past decade. You, too, can qualify for the ITC for the tax year your solar panel system was installed as long as the system produces power for a home in the US.

Federal Solar Tax Credit Eligibility

You might be eligible for the ITC if your solar system is new or is being used for the first time between the period of January 1, 2006 -December 31, 2023, since the ITC expires in 2024 unless it is renewed by Congress. Here are the other federal solar tax credit eligibility requirements you must be informed of:

  • The system must be situated in the US
  • You must own the system outright and not lease it
  • The system be located at your primary or secondary residence in the US or for an off-site community solar project

Solar Energy System Eligibility

The Federal Solar Tax Credit qualifications include installing a solar panel system that offers power for a residence, such as a solar photovoltaic system or solar water heater.

Since solar water heaters utilize the thermal energy from the sun to heat water and solar PV systems convert the light energy from the sun into electricity, both systems qualify for the Federal Solar Tax Credit.

How to Claim Solar Tax Credit

The solar energy tax credit can only be claimed after your solar panel installation. Hence, you must speak to your solar provider to provide you the proper instructions, documents, and everything as follows:

  1. File an IRS Form 5695 as part of your tax return
  2. In the first part, calculate the credit of the tax form.
  3. You must file your solar panel system as “qualified solar electric property costs.” 
  4. Enter the total costs of your project as stated in your solar contract on line 1
  5. Complete all the calculations on lines 6a and 6b
  6. Calculate the tax liability limitations by using the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit Limit Worksheetof the IRS on line 14
  7. Complete all the calculations on lines 15 and 16
  8. Enter the exact figure from line 15 on your Schedule 3 (Form 1040) on line 5

How Incentives Affect the Federal Solar Tax Credit

Solar customers can benefit from incentives to minimize their system’s total installation costs, from renewable electric certificates and electric utility rebates to state tax credits and state government rebates. These reductions will impact the amount you report on your tax return to the IRS.

State Solar Incentives

In addition to the Federal ITC, several states provide solar incentives to encourage homeowners to install solar. Every state has diverse incentives, but some prevalent ones include rebates, tax credits, and renewable energy certificates. Texas, California, New York, and Minnesota offer many solar energy incentives

Wrapping Up

Installing solar can be exhilarating because besides enhancing your own home and providing grid independence, it also contributes to developing a cleaner and more sustainable environment. If you want to explore your options for installing solar, Solgen Power has you covered. 

Contact us today in order for us to provide you a custom quote and give you recommendations on the ideal solar panel design for your home. Whichever system you choose, our Solgen Power team will happily provide you all the details you need to get the installation done. 

Click here to see if you’re eligible for our $0 Down Solar Program, and we will schedule a solar panel consultation to begin the design process.

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Solgen Power is a solar energy contractor that sells and installs solar for homeowners. Solgen Power has been recognized by INC. 5000 as one of the fastest growing companies in the nation. Solgen Power has grown nationwide and continues to provide excellent customer service to homeowners.

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Copyright © 2022 Solgen Power, All Rights Reserved