Key takeaways


nce you’ve decided to get into solar you might be unsure about what steps to take next, but following this easy guide will make the installation process as seamless as possible. So let’s look at how to install solar panels step by step.

Explore all possible solar panel options

How to install solar panels?
How to install solar panels?

The first thing you should do is check all the options currently available in the market. The solar industry is developing in leaps and bounds, which means new solar technologies are entering the market every year, and many mature technologies are becoming more affordable. Gather as much information about solar installation as possible: find out how efficient and expensive different solar panel types are, what placing options you may wish to consider, and whether you should install battery storage.

Another important task is finding a reliable solar panel installer. Ask for advice from your friends and neighbors, and read some online reviews. Ideally, your installation company should have some industry certificates proving its extensive expertise in installing solar. At the first meeting, do not hesitate to ask your installer any questions that will help you make an informed decision.

Carry out a site survey to see how you can take full advantage of solar

The next step is a thorough examination of your property which will help decide on your PV installation design. In most cases, the site survey can be completed virtually using a camera. More and more installers are conducting drone-based examinations that dramatically reduce surveying time and give the most accurate data.

During the survey, your installer will determine whether your property is solar-ready, how much space you need to install solar modules, and how to ensure the best PV panel direction. The specialists will also calculate potential shading losses and choose the best place to maximize solar panel efficiency.

After you finalize your PV system design, you will know exactly what equipment to purchase and how much will the whole solar panel installation cost.  

Use your own personal savings calculation to shop and compare top providers

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Find out how you can cut the installation costs with solar incentives

The initial solar panel investment may first frighten you off, as a PV installation will almost certainly going to cost a lot. In the US, the total cost of a home solar panel installation currently ranges from $15,000 to $25,000, which may be beyond the budget of many homeowners.

Luckily, there are some national and local incentives and rebates that can help save money on your solar panel investment. Taking advantage of these opportunities, you can potentially cut your costs by half or even more!

The federal investment tax credit (ITC), also known as the federal solar tax credit, is the biggest and probably the best-known measure designed to incentivize householders to install solar. It allows you to deduct 30% of the cost of installing PV panels.

Some U.S. states also have their own solar tax credits. If you're lucky enough to live in one of them, you can combine the federal solar tax credit with a state one. States with the widest range of solar incentives include New York, Rhode Island, and Iowa, but even in less solar friendly states, you can significantly reduce your investment. For example, in Arizona, a 5 kW PV system will cost you only about $10,000 after incentives.  

Sign a solar panel installation contract

Once you've settled on your solar panel project, it is time to sign a contract for solar installation specifying all stages of the installation process.

First of all, it must include detailed information about your PV system, such as the number of solar panels, hardware models, and the manufacturer’s warranty. It must also contain info on how the solar panels will be placed and how much electricity they will produce. The contract may also outline when your home system will be installed and put in operation.

And of course, the document must include all of the financial aspects, such as hardware costs, labor and installation costs, and estimated savings over the system’s lifetime.

Obtain all the permits for solar panel installation

There is also a bunch of bureaucratic requirements for solar panel installation. They may vary from state to state, so we’ll list the most common ones.

First, you will have to submit the application to connect your PV sunmodules to the utility grid. The utility company will have to make sure your solar system is safe, properly designed, and its installation won’t have any negative impacts on the grid. It will examine technical specifications and a wiring scheme to ensure everything is in line with the rules, and if it finds that your project doesn’t comply with some safety standards, it will inform you what changes must be made.

Apart from that, you will need to obtain an electrical permit, confirming your home PV system’s compliance with the National Electrical Code (NEC) -  a set of requirements for the safe installation of electrical wiring. In some regions, you will also have to apply for a separate building permit and prove your rooftop is sturdy enough to support the weight of solar panels. In case your local authority decides your roof isn’t suitable for solar, you can either replace it or consider installing a ground-mount system.

Use your own personal savings calculation to shop and compare top providers

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Buy the equipment needed for installing a solar system  

By this time, you will have the full list of the necessary equipment compiled by your solar panel installer. Once everything is ordered, you will be put in line for installation. As soon as solar panels arrive at your home from the supplier, you will be able to agree on the installation date.

Get solar panels installed

Finally, the day of your solar panel installation has come. First, solar professionals will carry out a final inspection to make sure everything is ready for the installation process. Secondly, they will assemble and put up scaffolding to ensure safety while working on the roof. After that, they will install solar panel mounting to secure the panels in place. This is a very important part of the process, as the panels have to be installed at a particular angle to grab the maximum amount of sunlight.

As soon as the racking is ready, it is time for solar panel setup. The specialists will connect the panels to the installed mounting system and attach them with special clamps. The next step is installing solar panel wiring: the professionals will have to wire the solar panels together and combine them into an electrical circuit, through which an electric charge will flow.

The installed panels also have to be wired to the solar inverter that transforms direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) used by the majority of home appliances. If your PV system includes battery storage, it will be connected to the inverter as well.

Solar systems aren’t compatible with old analog energy meters, so if you have one, the specialists will install a newer bi-directional or smart meter. As soon as everything is done, you will be able to switch the power on and make sure a solar panel system runs properly.

Depending on your home system size, the installation process can take one or two days. Generally, one day is enough to install an average-sized solar system.

Get your home PV panels approved by a municipal official

When the installation is over, you will probably need to get one last approval from your local government called permission to operate. The municipal officer will come to your home and carefully examine and validate your home solar system to make sure it meets the necessary safety regulations.

Use your own personal savings calculation to shop and compare top providers

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Connect your solar panels to the grid

Once this inspection is complete, you will be allowed to connect your panels to the local utility grid. This means you will be able to sell any excess energy your solar panels generate to the utility and get credits via net metering.

How to Install Solar Panels - a COMPLETE DIY Guide

Final thoughts

Installing PV panels might seem quite exhausting, but it is definitely worth it. Solar installation is undoubtedly a responsible process with many steps involved, but things get much easier when you plan the sequence of actions in advance and know howto avoid possible pitfalls.

Switching to solar can take from two to six months, which might sound like a very long time. But once you have solar panels kit installed in your home, you will be able to both cut your carbon footprint and dramatically lower your electricity bill.

When considering a solar energy system for your home or business, understanding solar panel output is crucial. Solar panel output determines how much electricity your solar panels can generate under optimal conditions. Factors such as the size and efficiency of the panels, as well as local weather patterns, can influence solar panel output. By accurately assessing solar panel output, you can determine the size and configuration of your solar energy system to meet your energy needs. Learn more about solar panel output and how it impacts the performance of your solar energy system Solar Panel Output.

Key takeaways

  1. Explore Solar Panel Options:
    • Research various solar panel types, efficiency, costs, and installation companies.
    • Seek recommendations, read reviews, and verify installer expertise.
  2. Carry Out a Site Survey:
    • Conduct a detailed property examination to finalize the PV system design.
    • Utilize virtual surveys or drone-based inspections for accurate data collection.
    • Determine solar readiness, space requirements, shading losses, and optimal panel placement.
  3. Find Solar Incentives:
    • Explore national and local incentives, rebates, and tax credits to reduce installation costs.
    • Take advantage of programs like the federal investment tax credit (ITC) and state solar tax credits.
  4. Sign a Solar Installation Contract:
    • Ensure the contract includes detailed system specifications, hardware, placement, and warranties.
    • Outline installation timelines and financial aspects, including hardware and labor costs.
  5. Obtain Permits:
    • Apply for grid connection approval from the utility company.
    • Secure electrical permits and, if required, building permits for compliance with safety standards.
  6. Purchase Equipment:
    • Order necessary equipment based on the finalized PV system design.
    • Coordinate with the installer and schedule installation upon equipment arrival.
  7. Install Solar Panels:
    • Begin installation with a final inspection to ensure readiness.
    • Erect scaffolding for safety and install panel mounting systems.
    • Wire panels together and connect to inverters for electricity conversion.
    • Install smart meters if needed and ensure proper functioning of the system.
  8. Obtain Municipal Approval:
    • Request inspection by local authorities to validate safety regulations compliance.
    • Obtain permission to operate once the inspection is successful.
  9. Connect to the Grid:
    • Connect solar panels to the utility grid upon receiving approval.
    • Utilize net metering to sell excess energy and receive credits.
  10. Final Thoughts:
    • Despite the process complexity, installing solar panels offers long-term benefits.
    • Plan ahead, navigate potential challenges, and enjoy reduced carbon footprint and energy bills.
Apr 7, 2023
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