Solar panels can be a great way to introduce more sustainable and environmentally-friendly energy into your property. However, if you are considering installing solar panels on your property, you may ask yourself, “how long does it take to install solar panels?” In addition, you may wonder how you can plan for this major installation process.
Realistically, the length of the installation process can vary quite dramatically from project to project. However, some guidelines can help you plan for this kind of project. Here we will detail the major steps in the installation process along with how long they typically take.
How Does Solar Panel Installation Work?
The general steps that you can expect during a solar panel installation process are:
- Initial interest
- Selecting contractors
- Reviewing proposals
- Signing contracts
- Applying for permits
- Property inspections
- Solar panel installation
- Final inspections
- Utility interconnection
- Solar panel system activation
Before you get overwhelmed with the list above, you likely will not have to do too much on your own. A solar panel installer typically handles most of them. So, typically, you will only be actively involved in a few of the steps above.
Keep in mind that this is also a very generalized list. Not all solar panel installation projects will go through all of these steps. Some projects may even have more steps than those listed above.
Factors That Impact Solar Panel Installation Time
No two solar panel installation timelines are the same. Each property will have different needs. Likewise, each solar panel installation company will have different requirements and timelines. In other words, each solar panel installation project will depend on several factors.
Here are some of the most impactful factors on the overall time it takes to install solar panels:
- The solar panel installation company
- The size and type of solar paneling
- Local permitting and inspection processes
- Unique characteristics of your property
- Your utility company and interconnection
The Solar Panel Installation Process
Here we are going to dive into each of the steps of the solar panel installation process. Each section below describes what a step entails, including an estimate of how long that step will take.
Remember that these times are estimates. They typically reflect how long the process will take, not how long you must be actively doing things. For most installation projects, you will spend most of your time waiting for things to happen.
Personal interest and initial research are the first steps in the process. This is when you decide to install solar panels on your property. Admittedly, this step can take a very long or quite short time, depending on the individual and the property.
For many, this step takes a few days and a few weeks to begin the process in earnest.
The next step is to select which contractors you want to install your solar panels. You should always take the time to compare quotes from multiple contractors. This is especially true when beginning a project like solar panel installation. To compare contractors, you’ll want to:
- Determine how long they have been in business
- Compare licensure
- Look for any licensure violations
- Read online reviews and testimonials (especially those on Better Business Bureau)
- Compare quotes for your project
Time needed: 1 day to 2 weeks
After selecting a contractor, you will need to review the proposal. This proposal may take a few days to weeks to put together. This means if you are getting a few different proposals, you may wait a few weeks before you can review them. The proposal will contain the following:
- A schematic of where the solar panels and other equipment will be installed on your property
- A list of equipment needed for the project
- A contract
- A price for the project
Time needed: 1-4 weeks
Since the first couple of steps take weeks to complete, this step is a welcome change. However, be sure to read any contracts carefully before signing. Going back and forth on a contract is normal. It is important to ensure that you are happy with everything before signing. Always take your time when reviewing a contract.
Time needed: 1 day
Permits and Approval
Getting the required permits is typically one of the longest steps in the process. This is because when installing solar panels, you need to get approved. Typically you need to get permission from your utility company and local municipality. You may also need an electrical permit and a permit for the physical installation of the solar panels.
Time needed: 2-8 weeks
Once you complete your paperwork and have gotten the necessary permits, it is time to install your solar panels. This process typically only takes a few days and sometimes can take as little as a few hours. Experienced installers can efficiently and quickly complete the installation without an issue.
Time needed: 1-2 days
After your solar system is fully installed, you’ll need one last round of inspections. You will at least require one final inspection — either by your utility company or your city’s inspector. In some cases, you may undergo two inspections. The actual inspections typically do not take very long, but scheduling them can take time.
Time needed: 1-4 weeks
At this point, all that is left is for your utility company to connect you to the grid. Before you can turn on your new solar panel system, your utility company needs to install a bi-directional meter. This meter allows you to track how much electricity you are generating. Unfortunately, this step typically takes a long time. Additionally, there is little to nothing that you can do to speed up the process.
Time needed: 3-6 weeks
This is the final step in the solar panel installation process. Luckily, all you need to do for this step is turn on your new system. To do this, you must flip the big red switch installed next to your utility meter.
Time needed: 1 minute
In conclusion, the timeframe for the entire solar panel installation process is somewhere between 2-8 months. Therefore, if you plan to install solar panels on your property, you should plan for at least a few months.
To get a more specific timeline for your project, you can contact a professional solar panel installation service provider in your area. For example, if you want to install solar panels in central Indiana, request a quote today from Huston Solar.