When making the decision to get solar power, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of the process of installing solar panels on your home. So, what happens once you sign the dotted line?
While each experience varies by dealer, in most cases you will have a project coordinator communicating with you throughout this process. The project coordinator is your advocate within the company and works directly with the teams responsible for completing tasks for your project. As your main point of contact, they’ll give updates along the way of what to expect, so there are no surprises.
While not every home solar system is the same, there’s a simple process we follow at SunPower. So, let’s break it down into the six basic steps for going solar:
1. Assess: Once you’ve signed your solar proposal and are ready to begin, SunPower performs a site survey of your home. During the assessment step, a SunPower representative will visit your home to review its current condition and take any necessary measurements.
This visit typically takes about two hours and the surveyor may take photos of your property, roof, electrical panel and any subpanels in or outside of the home or garage to aide in further planning. They may also want to take a peek at the attic space.
2. Design: For the design step, our engineering team will review the digital design against the site assessment to make sure no additional work is needed, such as a roof replacement or an electrical panel upgrade. Only about 5% of homes require additional electrical work, but if yours is one of them you can either have SunPower do the work (with a credit) or have another electrical provider take care of it. You also have the option to not to move forward with solar panels if the additional work is not in your budget. In any case, your project coordinator will present a final design to you before taking the next step.
3. Permit: After the design is finalized, we will begin the permitting phase of the project. We will obtain appropriate construction permits from your local jurisdiction. We will also submit a preliminary net energy metering application to your utility, if applicable.
Permitting is the step in the process that is hardest to predict from a timing standpoint. In some areas, permitting can be take just a few weeks. In others it can take up to six weeks or more. Your project coordinator will give you guidance on the timing early in the process.
4. Install: Once your permits are approved, the real fun begins. We will call you to schedule your installation at the earliest opportunity. The actual installation time is relatively short, typically 1-2 days. Your power may be disconnected for up to two hours at a time during the installation. For solar battery installations with a SunVault® storage system, the electricity can be off for 4-6 hours.
5. Inspection: After installation, we arrange for your project to be inspected by your local jurisdiction. Your project coordinator will give you advanced notice of the date for the inspection, which typically takes just a few hours once scheduled. The city will provide the exact time this all will occur on the morning of the inspection.
6. Commission: When the inspection is done, we will apply for your “permission to operate” from your utility. The time on this step varies, as each utility operates differently. Once the utility notifies us of your approval, your system will activate within 48 hours! You’re now running on clean energy from the sun.
Switching your home to solar energy is exciting, but it is a process. The entire installation process can take anywhere from 30 days to six months, depending on your local utility and permitting process.
The good news is, SunPower is there every step of the way. We don’t show up with solar panels one day and climb up on the roof. We walk you through the entire process, and even handle all the paperwork. The only thing you need to do is be present at certain times to show us around.
As always, we are here to answer any questions. If you are curious about the solar installation in your area, reach out to one of our solar advisors for more info.