Home Solar System Kits Permit Requirements

Homeowners installing their own solar panel kits are becoming a common occurrence across America. Complete solar installation kits are readily available as pre-packaged solar shipped to a home ready to install which can save a significant amount of money. If you have some basic home repair skills you can usually install the majority of the solar system then bring in a local licensed electrician to complete the wiring.

Each community has their own set of building codes that applies to the installation of home solar equipment that tied to the national electric and building codes. Building codes are put in place to provide standards and methods for installing solar and other home improvement projects.

Sometimes homeowners make the mistake of circumventing the solar permitting process and just have the system installed thinking they can save a couple of hundred dollars. Don’t do it. The solar permitting process, like all generally accepted building codes, are put in place to ensure the longevity of the project as well as the safety of those who might interact with the solar system. There are also some significant consequences if the building department discovers the solar installation. You may be subject to fine as well as the removal of all the equipment requiring you to start from scratch.

Additionally, in most areas, solar rebates are tied to the sign off of the solar building permit. Once the final solar inspection is signed off by the building official, the homeowner can process the rebate which, of course, is generally a significant amount of money.

The solar permit process is both technical and administrative. Product standards, installation codes and enforcement are separate but related functions that result in higher quality and safer systems. When we sell a solar kit to a homeowner, we are one of the few solar companies that allow a the homeowner to add the permit documents to the price of the solar kit.

The first step in securing a solar building permit is determining which local agency has jurisdiction over the project. If you live in the country it might be your county building department that is in charge. Research the particular jurisdiction that your permit will be submitted to and find out exactly what they are looking for in a solar permit package.

The second thing that you will need to do is a little tougher. Completing the solar permit process includes drawings and equipment information. You will need to provide the needed solar drawings which have to accompany the permit which generally include these items:

* Site Plan / Roof Plan
* Section / Attachment Detail
* Footer / Pier layout (Ground Mount only)
* 1-line and/or 3-line solar drawings
* Label / Placard Sheet (These are warning labels that have to be attached to various pieces of equipment)
* Solar Equipment Specification Sheets

Once these items are rounded up or created and the actual solar permit (custom document) is completed, they all have to be submitted to your local building department. The cost of solar permit varies widely from city to city. We just completed the installation of a grid tied battery backup solar system and the permit was about $500. I would however consider that unusually high.