Many people assume that installing solar panels is a simple process. They might see a full solar system get installed on a roof in only a day or two and think it will be that easy for them. What they don’t realize is that the full solar panel installation process includes several major and often complex steps. Depending upon the details, it could take weeks or even months to complete before your solar energy system starts working.
Palmetto has created this big-picture guide to solar panel installations so you can better understand what happens from start to finish. We want to make the process of going solar as transparent as possible, and this includes realistic timeframes for each step, while also acknowledging where there are sometimes delays.
Contract and Design
Let’s get started! Going solar is a multi-step process with several overlapping tasks. Luckily, Palmetto is here every step of the way to manage everything for you.
This combined stage is rather straightforward, and it focuses primarily on reviewing, signing, and approving a range of documents, some of which can be handled via the Palmetto App.
Together, we’ll clarify your goals, address any questions, identify purchase options and incentives, and outline the solar process—placing you in the driver’s seat for everything moving forward. Using a Virtual Site Survey, we can review your property and identify specific requirements in your area. Then, we’ll design a solar energy system to maximize your savings.
1. Introductory Meetings (1-2 Hours): Speak with a sales representative to review your options for going solar. Discuss your questions, comments, and concerns, and look at whether it makes sense for your home.
2. Site Survey (30 Minutes): For most homeowners, the site survey can be completed virtually using a camera phone or similar mobile device. In the survey, we’ll guide you through a series of questions and things you need to photograph, so we can gather the information we need to finalize your design.
3. Contract Review and Signing (1 Hour): Your contract outlines the design, pricing, and financing information (if applicable), as well as storage options, site improvements, and selected coverage through Palmetto Protect. For most homeowners, it takes about one hour to review and sign all required documents.
4. Document Review (1-2 Days): Once your contract has been signed, the Palmetto team will carefully review all documents for completion and accuracy before we finalize and approve your contract.
5. Engineering Design (1 Week): Our design and engineering team will review all of the information submitted, as well as mapping data on your roof, and solar regulations in your area, to configure the best solar energy system for maximum performance and long-term savings. In a small percentage of situations, this could include an in-person site audit to identify and address any lingering concerns.
If your solar energy system requires any design changes after your contract has been signed, or if your home requires any services prior to installation, such as a re-roof or electrical panel upgrade, Palmetto will work with you to move your project forward.
Permitting & Approvals
We work on your behalf to navigate state and municipal requirements, homeowners associations, and utility paperwork—moving your project from design to installation with the ultimate efficiency.
Several organizations oversee the size, placement, design, and installation of the solar energy system on your home. They can include, but are not limited to the following:
- Your Local Permitting Department (also known as “Authority Having Jurisdiction” or AHJ)
- Your HOA (if applicable)
- Your Utility
- Incentive Programs (if applicable)
The greater permitting process takes 2-4 weeks on average to complete, but it can range from instantaneous to 6+ weeks in length.
Palmetto will work on your behalf to define the requirements in your area and secure all necessary permits and approvals. You will not have to do any of this yourself. The local permitting experts at Palmetto will take care of these tasks for you.
Additionally, if you are part of an HOA, please tell our Customer Experience Team and ensure they have all the accurate HOA contact information. If needed, we can assist with approvals or provide you with the information required to obtain approval from your HOA board.
We know that waiting on permits can be stressful, so we do everything we can to make this process move faster. Throughout this process, we do our best to keep you informed about where your project is at in the process, but sometimes, there’s nothing we can do but wait for a response from the local permitting office.
Once Palmetto receives the approved permits, we may need to get utility approval and finalize any site improvements before we can install your solar panels.
Because your home will remain connected to the electrical grid, we require approval from your utility company or electricity provider before we can proceed with the installation. To initiate this process (also known as "interconnection") Palmetto will submit an application on your behalf that outlines your energy usage, roof specifications, and the engineering design of your solar energy system. We'll then work with your utility company to finalize the approval.
Once permits are in place, our experienced Build Team steps in. We’ve vetted and partnered with the best clean energy experts in your area to ensure your solar power installation is skillful, timely, and precise.
Once all permits and approvals are in place, Palmetto will work with you to find an installation date that fits your schedule, and coordinate the delivery of materials prior to installation. Most installations can be completed in 1-2 days by our experienced Build Partners.
Inspections are required to ensure that your solar energy system meets safety regulations and zoning laws, as well as the electrical, building, and fire codes in your area. While some jurisdictions may call for an inspection during the installation, all jurisdictions require a final inspection before you power on your system and start saving on your energy costs.
Either way, a Palmetto Build Partner will handle all of the logistics, and alert you when it’s time to schedule your inspection.
Permission To Operate
After your installation is complete and has passed final inspections, we will apply for “Permission to Operate” (PTO) from your electricity provider. In most cases, a representative from your local utility company will visit your home to install a new bi-directional energy meter capable of tracking both the energy you produce and the energy you use for net metering.
Please DO NOT activate your system before you have been granted Permission To Operate. This may result in additional costs and/or fines from your electricity provider.
Now it’s time to turn on your solar power system and start generating electricity! You’ll need to turn on the “PV Solar Breaker” switch in your electric panel, then turn on the AC disconnect, and finally turn on the solar inverter. It only takes a few minutes, and it’s a helpful process to go through so you’re familiar with your solar equipment.
For a more detailed walkthrough, check out our activation video:
Congratulations: You are now generating electricity for your home with your solar panels! After your system is active, there are still a few things you can do to make sure you get the most out of your system:
- Track your production: With the Palmetto App, you can track how much electricity your solar energy system is generating, to make sure it’s producing the amount it was designed for.
- Monitor your consumption: Your solar power system was designed for a certain level of energy usage, but often, when people go solar they start using more electricity than they did before. Even though your home is now powered by the sun, you should be careful not to use a lot of additional power, or you may need to pull extra electricity from the grid, which can result in higher utility bills.
- Take care of your solar panels: The Palmetto Protect service plan provides the regular maintenance your solar panels need to generate electricity with maximum efficiency.
Start Your Solar Panel Installation Process
If you’re ready to get started with installing solar panels on your home, we’re ready to help you along that journey! You can get started today with a free solar design and savings estimate, and then connect with one of our solar experts to design a system that’s perfect for your home. We’ll help with every step in the installation process, so your experience going solar is easy, efficient, and enjoyable.