A large set of solar panels installed on the roof of a house

How Long Does It Take to Install Solar Panels?

Usually, it takes an average of 90 days to install solar panels on your house. This time is consumed by a mix of technical and mainly bureaucratic procedures, such as the permissions, the installation itself, inspections and approval. The climate crisis and climbing power costs have brought solar power into the limelight. On the other hand, there are guaranteed cost savings and even a rise in home value. It would be thus natural to decide in favor of installing solar panels.

Technically, getting the material at your house and installing it would be a matter of a few days. Unfortunately, there are other things involved and it cannot be that straightforward. This becomes essential solar panel installation information to have, and thus we lay out these procedures, steps and the respective durations required.

Finding the Right Company

The obvious first step is to choose a solar company. Choosing a reliable solar installation company is important, considering the fact that you are going to invest thousands of dollars for a product that has a thirty-year life. As far as the time required is in question, it can take anything from a day to a week and depends on when you finally feel confident with one of the installers.

Site Survey

A solar plant is not a general product. Every house or plot can have its own specific solar plant design. This is due to the fact that the areas and shapes of rooftops are seldom the same. The shadow cast by any trees, poles or nearby buildings also have to be taken into account. For a large roof, it is important to locate the best place to install the solar panels on it. Additionally, different locations in the country have different sunlight intensities, and the company might like to have a quick assessment of the available solar radiation in your location.

Two solar technicians checking the site before installing solar panels

All of this is done by a specialist that the solar company will send to your place. After measurements, shadow analysis, and probably even some noting of the appliances you run, the specialist will take the site survey data to his company’s design team. In some cases, if it is a really old house and the roof’s quality is drastically altered, you may need to have a roofing assessment for avoiding damage to your roof during installation.

The time between your enquiry and the visit of a site survey executive can range from one to two weeks. It can be much quicker than that, but it shouldn’t ideally cross this number.

Preparing the Optimum Design

The data collected about the roof type, orientation, shadow, etc. Is utilized by the design specialists to prepare the best possible design that suits your roof. This includes selecting the shadow-free areas that can have your solar panels facing the correct direction. There is also a systematic calculation based on your consumption of power that helps you in choose the sufficient number of solar panels.

This part of the journey towards going solar depends on how busy the chosen company’s team is. In any case, it should require 2-4 days and should not cross a week. At the end of this small wait, the company will contact you again with a technical-commercial proposal.

This proposal will include details on the required system size, information about the components, the proposed cost and possibly the time required to get it up and running. Once you accept the proposal and its terms, you enter a deal, after which comes your next step.

Permissions

Governing bodies believe they should be aware of how and where solar panels are being installed, and they even have an approval or disapproval mechanism for it. The permits are specific to solar photovoltaic. It can be related to construction or electrical systems. There can be some related to the homeowner’s association of your area.

If everything is perfect, there is no reason for your plant to be denied permission. Different states and even some different cities will have their specific guidelines about installing solar panels. This part may test your patience a bit because all you can do is wait.

The good news, however, is that most solar companies have people dedicated to tackling this part. They can prepare all the documents for you and kickstart the procedure. Overall, the permitting part can take anywhere between a week and a month, sometimes even more.

Installation

This is the part where you see the brand new packed solar panels entering your premises and getting mounted on your roof, ready to power up the devices in your house. The installation of solar panels requires setting up mounting structures, cables, inverters and of course, the panels themselves, along with other small components.

Solar technician fixing in solar panels with a drill

Depending on the number of panels required, the entire installation process should not take more than a week. There may be small variations based on how much the solar panels weigh and the size of the solar panels being installed, but it is usually negligible. In some cases, with very small systems and easy roofs, it can even be done in a day.

Inspections

The permissions obtained before the previous step are subject to certain conditions. For example, getting a permission to connect a 5kW plant to the grid and instead erecting a 10kW plant is a kind of foul play the governing bodies do not want. There are also other aspects of safety and quality.

Therefore, the installation step is hardly the final one, and is followed by inspection done by particular authorities. This again is a bureaucratic step and for most part, you cannot do much but wait. If you are lucky, this can be over within a week — but sometimes it can take up to a month.

Grid connection

Unless the panels you are getting installed are in some remote place without a grid, you would have them connected to the utility grid. This brings you flexibility of use by the net-metering policy, wherein you can send surplus power to the utility company and even get it from them when you need. This is useful particularly at nights, or high consumption days, or even low sunshine days.

The grid connection is, thankfully, the final step. Once completed, your solar panels are all ready to harness free energy and get your home running for nearly zero power costs and for a beautiful duration of 25-30 years.

Conclusion

To summarize everything, we would say that installing a solar plant that can take months. If you are fortunate, it would be just two or three. But if we think of the fact that the solar panels will serve you for a few decades to come, this wait is well worth it.

As far as the question goes of whether it is a good decision, there has never been a better time to install solar. The price of installing solar panels has dropped exponentially, the incentives are promising, and the home premiums show a healthy gain.

References

  1. Site Survey for Solar PV – Scribd
  2. Planning a Home Solar Electric System – Department of Energy
  3. Renewable Electricity-to-Grid Integration – NREL

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