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The Process: What Goes Into a Solar Installation?

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With how long it takes to go through the whole process of going solar, it’s easy to forget that your solar project is in the pipeline. Understanding the process and communicating with your representative can help you estimate the timeline, but the process isn’t always easy to understand, and some of the steps can overlap. Today on the blog, we’ll make understanding solar easier than ever by breaking down the steps!

  • Step 1: Site Assessment (and Qualification)

Before you can achieve energy independence with solar power, it’s our job to qualify you and your home, and to build a proposal that fulfills your goals! One of our Solar Experts can come out to your home for a consultation, sometimes with our Site Technician to assess the home at the same time, or chat in detail over video conferencing once we’ve customized your proposal.

We’ll first qualify your home with LIDAR satellite technology for nearby trees and buildings that would cause significant shading. We later follow this up with an onsite Drone inspection to verify that everything is accurate. Since we can build custom solar canopies or tilt kits and install panels on both pitched and flat roofs, it allows our designers to maximize all the space available.

After entering your annual energy usage and a few site characteristics into our tools, we can walk you through your customized proposal, explaining the environmental and financial benefits of solar. In order to qualify for our solar programs and receive the tax benefits from the government, you and your property must meet the following:

  • Own your home or building
  • Have a roof that is not significantly shaded by other buildings or trees
  • Have a positive credit history with a score of 650 or higher

Solar panels last a long time, so another qualifier is a solid roof to support them. Many solar companies want customers to have a brand new roof in order to qualify. Fortunately, our installers have experience with roofing projects, and as such we are able to repair, remove and replace roofs and roll the added costs into the total project.

Other solar companies will also disqualify customers who do not have adequate electrical service with the utility grid to add solar. Our electricians will coordinate with the Utility to provide the increased amperage or voltage needed for your solar installation.

“We do our best to ensure that anyone who is able to qualify can have solar installed, giving more New Yorkers the opportunity.” – Dean

  • Step 2: Contract & Agreement

Once you’ve been qualified, it’s time to decide! Will you or won’t you be ours for a while? We hope you will, as energy independence is an amazing feeling!

The decision to move forward isn’t always the hard part. Sometimes it can be which product or program is best for you and your home. We give our Solar Experts a different tool-belt than our installers: they’re trained to do an in-depth analysis of your needs and provide the best advice.

Once you have settled on the system that’s right for you, our expert will start a digital contracting process to sign off on the agreement and related documents. Later, you may have to sign off on other stages, depending on your utility company and jurisdiction.

  • Step 3: Design & Engineering

Solanta has developed a unique and effective design process that ensures projects are processed efficiently and accurately.

It starts with a satellite model of your home as a preliminary estimate of where we’ll be installing. We then verify this with one of our drones. The photos it takes are uploaded from the job site to the cloud, where they are stitched together into a 3D model.

Within an hour or two, our engineers can set off to work on on your plan set, an architectural drawing of the home showing our plans for installation. Once this is completed and approved by the structural engineer, it is submitted to the utility company and municipality for approval.

  • Step 4: Permits and Approval

As hard as we work to put a solar project on your property, the local approvals to move things along can often be tedious. Places like New York City add extra hoops to jump through and additional inspections to pass.

Fortunately, our experience in many municipalities gives us an advantage and allows us to expedite the process for our customers. Solanta submits the filings and works with the utility company and municipality until your job is approved, so that we can order and install your equipment as soon as the go ahead is given.

  • Step 5: Installation

This is where the magic happens! Once our permits are approved, we’re ready to order the materials and schedule an installation date with you. Installation can be one or two days long, depending on the size and scale of your project.

We’ll first attach our mounting flanges, resealing the roof at every drill point, and then mount the racking to the flanges. Once the racking is bolted together tightly, we’ll run metal conduit between each set of solar panels and to the point of interconnection, your home’s main electrical service panel.

Next, we’ll run all the copper wire for the electricity to flow from the panels through to your home. In between, we install a disconnect switch to turn off the flow of power in an emergency. After we bolt the solar panels into place on the racking, we connect the system to your home’s main electrical service panel and commission it for operation!

  • Step 6: Inspections

After we’ve commissioned the system, there are some final inspections from the municipality to pass before the system can be turned on. We’ll let you know the date as soon as we do, and we’ll be there as the inspection goes on to ensure things go over smoothly.

After we’ve commissioned the system, there are some final inspections from the municipality to pass before the system can be turned on. We’ll notify you of the scheduled date as soon the municipality informs us. We’ll be there as the inspection goes on to ensure things go over smoothly.

Once we’ve passed our electrical inspection, we can file paperwork with the utility company to grant us Permission to Operate (PTO). They may have to come out to install a newer digital meter to read the solar generation before they grant us permission, but once they do, it’s smooth sailing from there.

  • Step 7: Activation

Once we get the all clear, it’s time to let the sunshine into your home. We’ll walk you through turning the system on for the first time, and show you how to access your solar monitoring platform to read the energy production.

After that, you can let your solar system do most of the work, only checking in on the meter occasionally to make sure that the system is continually functioning properly. In about 60 to 90 days you’ll start to see the difference in your energy bills!

  • Step 8: Satisfaction

Congratulations! Once you’re here, you’ve reached the greatest milestone: your project is complete! For years, we’ve helped put your friends and neighbors in control of their homes; it’s what defines us. We’re so glad that now you can join our community of happy customers in energy independence.

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