A common question property owners often have when considering solar panels is simply, “how long does it take to get solar panels installed?”.
As is the case with many things, it’s a simple question with a complex answer, and that answer depends on the following factors.
We’ll cut to the chase: an actual install will take 2 or 3 days. But that’s just a small piece of the puzzle.
The Solar Installer
Who you choose to handle the installation of your solar panels has the greatest effect on how long the process of going solar is going to take. Because a solar install is an involved process, calendars tend to fill up quickly and stay busy throughout the year.
At Solar by CIR, we recommend starting the process at least 2 months prior to when you’d like to have the panels installed because of the nature of the upcoming factors. Typically, from the time we first speak with a potential customer to the project completion date, it’s going to be 10-14 weeks.
Local permits + Inspection
Each city or town has different permitting processes in place, but typically the solar installer will be required to submit a Solar PV Permit, a General Electrical Permit, and a Construction Permit. Depending on how busy your local permit office is, approval usually takes anywhere between 1 to 5 weeks. It’s important to note that after the installation takes place, and before your new system is switched on, your town or city government will send an inspector to confirm it meets their standards.
We will also have our field manager do a commissioning walk-through with the homeowner to explain the system.
This typically happens within a week of the installation.
Size of Solar system
A typical rooftop solar installation will take most installers between one and three days to complete. A ground mount installation can take slightly more time because there is some additional work required, including digging a trench for electric to be run from the panels to the electric meter.
Each property is different, and because of that there are a number of things that can affect how quickly your solar panels will be installed. The most common scenarios that could hold up a solar installation would be needing to upgrade an electrical panel or the need for a new roof. It’s generally advisable that your existing roof be less than 5 years old to limit the need for a new roof during the lifespan of your solar panels.
Your utility company
It’s important that your solar system be tied to the electric grid. Having a grid-tied system will enable you to bank solar credits when you produce more electricity than you need, and draw those credits when the system is producing less than you need. It’s because of this that your solar installer will need to file an application with your utility company to connect your system to the grid. After the installation is complete, your utility company will require their own inspection and this typically occurs one or two weeks after the install is complete.
The key takeaway here is that while a solar installation takes 1-3 days and the process leading up to and following that install can take 3 months. This is important to consider for a number of reasons, including taking advantage of federal and state tax incentives, scheduling accompanying projects (like a new roof installation) and working around less than ideal weather.