Residential Solar Permit Process
A building permit is required to install a solar system in your home or property: it is a mandatory step to ensure safety and that all photovoltaic (PV) systems feeding the electric grid are installed in accordance with the National Electric Code (NEC).
As its name indicates, your grid-tie solar system needs to be tied to the local electric grid. In order to connect to the grid, it is necessary to have approval from your local utility company. In most cases this is accomplished in the form of a contract referred to as the “interconnection agreement.” Among other requirements, the utility company needs to verify that the equipment installed is certified for the UL 1741 requirement.
The exact steps may vary but the main requirements are standard for most of the United States. The following guide will help you navigate the process and get your PV system up and running in the shortest amount of time.
Residential Solar Permit
Contact your Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ): this is the same office you would contact before a house remodel or any other contract work on your property. Information can usually be found in the Building Department of your city or county. As the popularity of solar energy has increased, most jurisdictions now have their requirements available online. They will probably have paper copies in their local offices as well.
Get familiar with their requirements and fill out the application form. TIP: some offices will have an express version of the permitting application for residential PV systems that fall within standard parameters and size, and this will significantly simplify the permitting process. Highlight all the sections that you have questions about and clarify every point with the AHJ. It is possible that you be told things you don’t want to hear for example that your roof structure is inadequate to support a PV system, but knowing these things upfront and fixing the issues in the early stages of the project will save you time, money, and a few frustrations in the end.
Residential Solar Interconnection Agreement
It is important to contact your utility company and find out what is required to interconnect a PV system to the electric grid. It is likely they will provide information online, but if they are not new to solar it is possible they will have a dedicated hotline for solar power systems. Every utility is different and what you learned from a friend who has solar in a neighboring state will probably not hold true for your local utility, so do not make assumptions and find the current information pertaining to your specific project.
TIP: before you invest any time and money make sure that your local utility allows for the interconnection of PV systems. Grid-tie systems only operate when connected to the grid, and connecting to the grid without your utility’s permission is not permitted.
Residential Solar Incentives
This is the time to ask your AHJ about local or state solar incentives. You should also research what your local utility offers, as they sometimes have different programs for solar. Remember that the PV system will be on your roof for over 25 years, so it is smart to be well informed at this point.
TIP: It is not a bad idea to talk to neighbors who already went solar in order to learn what their experiences were like, the incentives they used, and the bumps on the road that you might be able to avoid by being more informed.
Supporting Documentation from Boxed Solar
To aid you through the permitting process Boxed Solar will provide you with a full permitting package that includes the following material:
– Project summary
– Equipment placement plan
– Roof layout
– Electrical line diagram
– NEC compliance report
– PV safety label summary
– Roof attachment detail
– Manufacturer specification sheets
– Bill of materials
Sample page of permitting package provided by Boxed Solar
TIP: allow yourself time to complete this process. It can be tedious but it is a first step in the right direction. Once the permits and approvals are secured, then the fun begins!
This is the stage where it is important that all of your questions are answered. Feel free to call us at 888-972-6933