How Solar Panel Installation Works

A Roadmap From Signing the Contract to Soaking Up the Savings

When some homeowners consider going solar, one factor that may make them reluctant to move forward is uncertainty about the details and duration of the process. They may imagine a lengthy, complicated process that requires them to juggle their schedule, take time off of work, and constantly have strangers coming to their home. The truth is that going solar doesn’t have to be a complicated process, and at Zenernet we do some important things differently to take the stress off of homeowners as much as possible. Our goal in this article is to help homeowners considering solar gain confidence by explaining what happens in between signing a contract and when you start seeing that sweet savings on your monthly utility bill.

Assessing Your Home

In the old days (or still in the present day for some solar providers!), the solar process began with a technician visiting your home to check the location of things like rafters, meters, and breaker boxes and verify details about the structure of your roof to create a Plan Set for your solar system.

Zenernet has improved on this legacy process with the Virtual Home Visit. With the Virtual Home Visit, most homeowners can perform the site assessment themselves without needing to schedule a visit from a technician. All you do is send us a few pictures and simple pieces of information – the rest, like exact measurements and shading analysis, we handle with state-of-the-art computer software and precise GPS and aerial imagery. Our design tools have proven to be more accurate than a human using a tape measure, as it eliminates human error.

Design and Engineering

In this phase, we take all of the data we’ve gathered from the site assessment phase and use it to develop a complete Plan Set for your system. This is the real nuts-and-bolts stuff, where experienced engineering professionals using industry-leading tools determine the optimum configuration for your solar system based on the components chosen and the unique characteristics of your home. Once the Plan Set is complete, it’s immediately sent to you for your final approval.

The improved accuracy of the Virtual Home Visit and the tools we use mean that the turnaround time for developing a Plan Set can be as short as five days, instead of over two weeks using the old-fashioned technician visit system.

Permitting

This is often the lengthiest phase of the process, and one where some homeowners begin to get nervous about an apparent lack of progress on their solar install. It’s entirely understandable: you’ve just signed off on your Plan Set, you can picture how the new panels will look on your roof, you’re excited to start saving money on your electric bill… and then it seems like nothing is happening!

Trust us, we want to get to work on your system as much as you do! However, before we can start your installation, we’re required by law to get permits from the relevant Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs), just as is required for many other major home improvement projects. The most common AHJs are municipalities and utilities, although in some cases it may also be necessary to get approval from other AHJs like a neighborhood homeowners’ association. The timeline for getting these permits depends on a lot of factors, including the locality and the season. The frustrating part for us is that it’s largely out of our hands, but we always do all we can to supply the AHJs with any information they need to issue the permits for your project as fast as possible.

Installation

As soon as we have the necessary permits from all of the local AHJs, we can schedule the installation of your system. Depending on the size and complexity of your system, the actual work may take just a few hours, or several days. Depending on the part of the country you live in and the workload, the work may be done by one of our own Zenernet install crews, or a team from our network of trusted third-party professional installers.

Inspection

Installation is done. Your solar panels are on your roof. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Right? Well, not quite. Before your system can actually start generating energy to save you money and help you live more comfortably, it has to pass an inspection conducted by your local utility. Like the permitting process, the length of time this takes depends on many factors that are mostly out of our hands – but we take all measures during the planning phase of the process to ensure our systems are compliant, so inspections usually go smoothly.

System Empowerment

Now this is the moment you’ve been waiting for! Once your system passes inspection and receives Permission to Operate (PTO), we’ll send you instructions on how to “flip the switch” and activate your solar system. Then you’ll be able to use monitoring tools to track the performance of your system, seeing how much energy it’s producing and how much money it’s putting back in your pocket.

Zenernet’s Project Coordinators

We’ve already talked about some of the ways that Zenernet speeds up and smooths out the solar install process, like the Virtual Home Visit. Another important difference that sets Zenernet apart is that you’ll have a dedicated point of contact throughout the installation process. The project coordinator’s primary responsibility is to take the stress out of your life by handling the organizational and administrative work of the project and keeping you up to date on the status of the process.

Conclusion

Uncertainty over the install process is no reason to hold back from pursuing all the benefits of residential solar. For most of the process, the ball is entirely in Zenernet’s court. All you have to do is complete the Virtual Home Visit assessment, sign off on your Plan Set, and then tell us a time that fits in your schedule for the actual installation work once permits are secured. Compared to other solar providers, our Virtual Home Visit system and personal concierge-style project coordinators make going solar quicker and more convenient for homeowners. Although it’s not a process that happens overnight, the rewards are well worth it – saving money, living more comfortably, and gaining more energy independence. We hope that this article has been informative and given you more confidence about finding out if going solar is right for you.

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