When planning to install solar or photovoltaic panels, it’s important to remember that the process can take several weeks to complete. Here’s an overview of the typical stages in the installation of a photovoltaic (PV) system, from design to completed installation. It’s important to note that the timeline will vary by project, but this general outline will provide some context about what’s involved in an average PV installation project.
Sourcing a good Solar Installer
The first and very important step in having solar panels installed is finding a good installer. A good installer will be able to walk you through every stage of the process, from choosing an appropriate system for your home or business, all the way through installation. They should also provide you with a detailed list of costs associated with each part of their service. This process takes around 2-3 weeks on average.
- Before you even think about installing solar panels, you need to determine if your site is appropriate for solar. That’s where site evaluation comes in. The site assessment team also does the below-mentioned things.
- Identify and evaluate solar resource availability at the site location.
- Identify and evaluate any obstacles to solar energy collection at site location (i.e., shading).
- Determine the best location for the solar array (e.g., south-facing roof, south-facing ground mount).
- Determining your energy requirements and available budget for a solar power system.
- Suggesting the best type of system (i.e., grid-tied, off-grid).
The initial design for your solar power system is critical in determining how much energy you will produce, and how much it will cost. A good designer can help you determine what equipment you need, where to place panels on your roof or ground-mounted array, and how to integrate all of that into an aesthetically pleasing package. Designing phase takes about 1-2 weeks.
Getting Required Permits
Before you begin installing panels, it’s a good idea to make sure that your community allows homeowners to install them. Some cities and counties in the US have specific laws regarding solar panel installation, so be sure to check with your local government before getting started. It will take about 2-3 weeks to process your application, but once approved, you should receive a permit that is needed for your work.
Site Work & System Installation
Site work and installation are where projects begin actually. At its most basic, site work involves the following.
- Getting all of your components onto your roof.
- Wiring everything together so it works as designed.
- Next up is connecting your solar array to your inverter(s), which converts DC electricity into AC for use by household appliances and equipment.
- Lastly, you’ll need to connect your solar array and inverter(s) to your utility meter so that you can sell any excess electricity back into your local grid.
The installation phase takes up to 2 weeks. After that, you’ll have to wait for your system to go through its commissioning process.
Testing and Commissioning
A key part of any solar project is making sure everything works properly. Testing and commissioning are two distinct steps in that process, but they’re equally important. The first step (testing) verifies that your system meets its performance requirements before it goes online. The second step (commissioning) makes sure it keeps working after it goes online. It can take as long as other steps do.
Once your solar system is installed, you’ll need to apply for permission from your utility company for interconnection. This is typically done through an
application process that could take anywhere from 30 days (in some states) to 3 months or more. The timeframe depends on how quickly your utility approves applications. If everything goes smoothly, you should be able to have your system connected within a few weeks after applying for interconnection.