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How to install solar panels step-by-step
Before you sign your solar contract, the solar installer will set up a time to visit your home and evaluate your roof’s size, condition, angle, and amount of shade. From there, the installer will be able to recommend the right system size and generating capacity for your home. This is the right time to ask the solar installer all of your questions and discuss your energy goals.
The next step is to sign your contract. If you feel the solar installation company is the right fit for you, you can sign the contract – whether it is a contract to buy, lease, or a PPA – and continue forward with the process.
Once you have found a solar installation company and have signed your contract, you will need to schedule an onsite engineering consultation with your solar technician. This technician will come to your home, assess the structural integrity of your roof, and evaluate whether your roofing or electrical panel needs any maintenance before installation can begin.
Following this engineering appointment, you and your solar installation company will discuss the best panel options, placement, and system size. Once you have reached an agreement, the solar panel company will provide a final estimate for the solar system, including all installation costs. If you agree to this estimate, you can schedule a time for installation.
This is when the physical installation of your solar system occurs. This step normally takes less than a week. The solar installer will begin by preparing your home’s roof for the panels and connecting the wiring that runs between your electrical panel and the larger power system. After this, the installer will put in the racking (a piece that supports the panels), connect the solar panels, and install the inverter, which converts direct current energy into alternating current energy (the kind that powers your home).
Once solar installation has finished, a representative from your local government will need to inspect the system to make sure the wiring and installation was done correctly. After they give their approval, your solar system will be ready to connect to the grid. A representative from your energy company will schedule a time to inspect your system and, if approved, connect it to the grid for you. From there, your solar panels will generate electricity and power your home.
The last step is to make sure you submit documentation of your system so you can fully benefit from tax credits or incentives available in your area. Read our guide to the Federal Solar Tax Credit for a detailed look into how you can apply. And visit any of our state solar pages to learn more about state solar incentives.
Keep in mind that this breakdown does not account for the cost of solar batteries, which can greatly improve the reliability of your solar system.
So, how much does solar installation cost? Based on the average cost of a residential solar system, the cost of solar installation falls between $1,500 and $2,500 before tax incentives (10% of $15,000 to $25,000).