Millions of homes have already gone solar in the U.S. If you’re considering solar you probably want to know what it’s like having solar panels installed in the Orlando area. There are five steps that need to happen. Though we handle most of this behind the scenes, it can only help you to become familiar with the process.
Here’s what you can expect!
1. Assess your power system
If you have new construction, naturally it’s possible to build a standalone solar power system that can power everything, whether you decide to tie it to conventional grid power or not. But if you’re like most people with existing power, the first thing we’ll do is send an engineer to your home to evaluate whether it’s suitable for solar power.
You can certainly enjoy the array of benefits solar has to offer with a less than perfect roof, yet ideally, a south-facing roof would be the best. Our engineer will use a solar pathfinder to calculate how much sun your panels will be able to capture on average. To qualify for tax credits or rebates you will need to have a suitable roof. We can help you determine this as well.
Next is to assess how powerful you want your system to be, as well as your solar power budget. To make solar energy worth your efforts, you’ll probably want at least a 3.5kWh system, and maybe even up to 5kWh or 10kWh, though many people find they are amazed at how much less power they use when they are more mindful and generating their own!
2. Permits and documents: paperwork required for your solar panel installation
As with so many financial investments, installing solar panels tends to involve its share of paperwork. Luckily, most of this paperwork is dealt with by us behind the scenes of your solar installation.
There is typically paperwork such as building permits. These permits are specific to where you live. Some areas require that a roof has three feet of clear space surrounding the solar panels, whereas other areas allow you to install panels across the entire surface. We’ll guide you through the process and submit the paperwork.
This can take 1 to 2 months, depending on how diligent your installer is in filing the paperwork. You can count on us to submit all paperwork in a timely fashion to ensure you have solar power in place as soon as possible.
3. Planning the System
Solar panels generate direct current (DC), and the conventional grid runs on alternating current (AC), so you need a device to convert one to the other, and that device is the inverter. An inverter converts DC to AC power so it can be used with your usual outlets, appliances and devices. Once we know how much power you need it’s a pretty quick calculation to come up with the right inverter, charge controller, and panels.
Keep in mind that while your panels will typically last a minimum of 25 years, inverters typically only last for a decade or so, at which point you’ll need it replaced. If you rely solely on solar power, you’ll want to have a back up inverter ready to go when the old one checks out.
Once we order your equipment, you’re added to our service schedule.
4. The panels
Installation day is exciting for every homeowner. We’ll start by prepping your roof and making sure the shingles or tiles are properly attached. Next, electrical wiring is installed which will connect to your electrical panel.
Installing the solar panels themselves involves the fixing of multiple frames to the roof, and then attaching solar panels to the frames, and connecting the wiring. If you have a flat roof, then installing the panels will take a little bit longer as they will need to be mounted at an angle.
Solar panel installation typically takes one to three days, depending on the number of panels. To give a better idea, a 4kWh system installation can be achieved in one day. Once you get up over 6kWh, installation is likely to require a second day, or more.
An additional factor that can add time to your installation is putting in a power meter for net metering. If we need to add a power meter, this will add a few hours to your solar panel installation.
5. Approval and interconnection
The final step of going solar is flipping the switch and using that power generated from your rooftop! Before you can connect your solar panels to the electric grid, a representative from your local government will need to inspect and approve the system. He or she will verify that the electrical wiring has been installed correctly, the tacking and panels installed solidly, and that the overall install meets standard electrical and roof codes.
Following this inspection, you will be ready for interconnection with grid power. Someone from your electric company will also perform a final evaluation of the solar panel system. It typically takes anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to get everyone out that needs to approve things, but once they do you can ‘go live’ almost immediately.