The Solar Process: From Installation to Power
After your solar installation is complete, your project must go through a final round of reviews before you can activate your system and start producing power. Essentially, every organization or Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) that required approval on the design must now grant approval on the completed installation. This includes your local permitting office(s), utility provider, and HOA, if applicable.
Unlike the approvals required for installation, post-installation approvals:
- Will typically happen onsite as a formal inspection(s) and a site visit from your local electricity company.
- Are always sequential. Your residential solar project must pass all required inspections before we can apply for Permission to Operate (PTO) with your utility company.
Let’s break down the final steps between you and solar energy.
Schedule Your Inspection
Inspections are required to ensure that your solar energy system meets safety regulations and zoning laws, as well as electrical, building, and fire codes in your area. While some jurisdictions may call for an inspection during the installation, most jurisdictions require a final inspection once the installation is complete.
During your installation or in the 1-2 weeks after, a Palmetto Build Partner will reach out to coordinate inspection scheduling and logistics. In most cases, a representative from your local building department(s) or Authority Having Jurisdiction(s) will visit your home to inspect your solar energy system for safety and compliance with local codes. While you may need to be home for the inspection, most inspections take less than an hour to complete.
- If you’re alerted that you need to be home for the inspection, please don’t miss the appointment! In many jurisdictions, this counts as a failed inspection and will result in additional fees and delays.
- Please do not move or remove any permit documents that have been left onsite after your installation. Your inspector(s) will need to sign the documents to indicate that your project has passed inspections.
Pass Final Inspections
After inspecting your home solar panel installation, your inspector(s) will create an inspection report that then goes to review—a process that usually takes 1-3 weeks. If updates are required, a Palmetto Build Partner will contact you to schedule service as needed.
In some cases, additional work is required either prior to or after the inspections. This may be due to design changes that happened during your installation, unpermitted work and/or code violations that were identified during installation, or pre-inspection requirements such as a stamped Final Affidavit from the Engineer on Record. Palmetto will work with you to resolve any pending items and alert you when your project has passed inspections.
- In many cases, code violations or unpermitted work that is identified during the installation or inspection process is unrelated to your solar panel installation but still must be resolved before you can activate your system. You may need to reconnect with the contractor on that project or work with your permitting office directly to fulfill all requirements, then provide Palmetto with proof of completion so we can move forward with your project.
Permission to Operate
Once your solar project has passed final inspections, Palmetto will apply for Permission to Operate (PTO) from your utility company or electricity provider. In most cases, a representative will visit your home to ensure that your solar energy system meets safety and metering guidelines and to install a new bi-directional energy meter capable of tracking both the energy you produce and the energy you use.
Once granted, you’ll be ready to activate your solar energy system and clean energy savings!
- 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.
Activate Your System
The activation process is quick and easy! When you’re ready, we’ll guide you through a short series of steps that allow your solar energy system to begin producing power and safely connect to the electricity grid. No tools are required. However, the steps are best completed during daylight hours.
If you have any questions or difficulty with the activation process, our Customer Experience team is available to help guide you through the process.
- Once your system is active, you’ll be able to track system performance and energy savings right from your personal solar account, though it may take a few days for your data to appear.