Do I Need a Permit to Install Solar Panels?

Solar panels are a great way to power one’s home at a cheaper cost, as well as be able to power parts of the home when the power is out. But there are some questions that need to be answered before installing solar to a home.

You do need a permit when installing solar panels to a home. Many additions to your home do require a permit before installation. Applying for a permit may take some time, but if you skip this step, you may be subject to fines.

How do you go about applying for a permit? There’s lots of questions that come to mind when applying and installing solar panels, so, let’s explore this together.

How to Apply for Permit

When applying for a the permit to install solar panels, these are the types of permits you will need to apply for: electrical permit, a structural or building permit, and/or a dedicated solar photovoltaic (PV) permit. Depending on your local governments is which ones you need to apply for and how long it will take to obtain both. When applying for these, you will also need to provide the specifications of your solar system such as how many panels, how large it will be, where it will be placed, and so forth.

Many states have codes regarding the electrical permits required for solar panels to make their own electricity, while also releasing whatever stored energy is left into the grid for the rest of the city to use. Some states also require that there be certain guidelines in place so that fire departments are able to reach the panels themselves. Permits vary based not only on states and cities, but also depending on where you live in the town. If you live in a historical region of town, then your permits may look different than someone else’s in the suburbs.

What About Off-Grid Solar Panels

If you plan on installing solar panels that will be storing the left over energy, thus being off of a city’s grid, then you most likely won’t have to apply for most permits. As stated earlier, some permits are needed to make sure that the electrical system from the solar panels computes with the entirety of the city’s grid, and if you’re off grid, you don’t need those. It depends on the city, so ensure to contact local officials before installing any solar panels on your home or property.

Other permits, such as building requirements and such may be needed by the city so that the installation of the solar panels is correct and up to code; but the electrical permits most likely aren’t a necessity for the city. Batter packs attached to the solar panels will help to store whatever energy is leftover, so the city isn’t as concerned about your electricity as it is with how the panels are installed and if the building is stable enough to hold the weight and pressure.

Inspection Process

During the permit process, the place in which the solar panels will be put needs to be inspected. The electrical system of your home needs to be cleared that it will be able to obtain the energy from the solar panels. The area needs to be inspected that the area is large enough and there is enough room for the fire department, but engineers to be able to properly install solar panels to one’s roof, so that the roof doesn’t cage in under the pressure. Same also applies to the ground if that is where the solar panels are going to be installed.

Even after the panels are installed, someone will come to inspect the installation of the solar panels to make sure they were properly put in, and they meet all of the codes and requirements according to a city’s mandates. Before the solar system can be turned on and added to the grid, someone has to make sure it won’t burst into flames. The city and the electrical company will make sure the solar panels installation is up to code and that it works alongside the grid.

The Cost of Permits and Inspections

Each state has it’s own costs when it comes to solar panels and the permits and inspections required. However, most people will only pay a couple hundred dollars for both. Both of the processes are relatively easy and don’t require a lot of effort on a city’s part, and the process doesn’t take more than a few hours each time. In fact, quite a few states put a cap on how much a local government can charge someone for the process of installing solar panels.

In some cases, some solar companies include the cost of permits and inspections in the overall cost of everything else. Ask for a bill with the list of what was included when you paid and the individual cost of each action.

What Happens if You Don’t Have a Permit

What a permit does is make sure that everything done is legal and safe. Permits are put in place for the safety of the construction workers and installers. It’s possible to install a solar system on your own, but the point of permits is to make sure that everything is installed correctly and won’t fall into the home, or burn it down. If the installation isn’t done properly, then the city can ask for it to be taken down, and if not taken down then you can be fined.

If you do happen to install without a permit, then most often the city will want to inspect it to make sure that it is installed properly, which you will most likely have to pay for as well. Sometimes, the more rural the area, the easier it can be to install without lots of permits, especially for solar panels on the ground. Cities have stricter requirements because homes are a lot closer than in the rural countryside.

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