How Long Does It Take To Install Solar Panels?

10 min

How Long Does It Take To Install Solar Panels?

Switching to solar energy is a significant decision that requires careful consideration and planning. Before you can install solar panels, there are several steps you need to take to ensure a successful installation process. From the signed contract to the installation, this can take two to six months to complete. In this guide, we outline the nine primary steps involved in installing solar panels: Qualification, System Design, Comparing Quotes, Contract Signing, Site Survey, Engineering, Permitting, Installation, and System Activation. Additionally, we provide a list of steps you should take before deciding to go solar, including evaluating your energy needs, researching solar panel technology, and assessing your home's structural integrity. By following these steps, you'll be well-equipped to make an informed decision about solar energy and ensure a successful installation process.

Steps to take before making the decision to go solar:

  1. Evaluate Your Energy Needs:

    Before installing solar panels, it's essential to assess your energy needs and determine if solar energy is a good fit for your home. Consider factors such as your energy usage, home's location, and available sunlight to determine if solar panels are a cost-effective solution.

  2. Research Solar Panel Technology:

    There are many types of solar panel technology available, and it's important to research the options to determine which one is right for your home. Factors such as efficiency, durability, and cost should all be considered when choosing solar panels.

  3. Choose a Reputable Solar Panel Installation Company:

    Choosing a reputable solar panel installation company is crucial to ensuring a successful installation process. Look for companies with experience, positive customer reviews, and certification from industry organizations.

  4. Assess Your Home's Structural Integrity:

    Before installing solar panels, it's important to ensure that your home's roof and other structures are in good condition and can support the weight of the solar panels.

  5. Consider Financing Options:

    Solar panel installation can be a significant investment, and it's important to consider financing options such as loans, leases, and power purchase agreements to determine the best option for your budget.

By following these steps, you can make an informed decision about whether solar energy is right for your home and ensure a successful installation process.

Steps to intall a home solar system

The Steps for Installing Solar Panels

Step 1: Qualification

The first step in your solar purchasing process is to initiate contact with one or more companies to inquire about installing solar panels for your home. You can do this by filling out web forms after conducting some research on Google. Alternatively, you might come across a flyer in your mailbox and decide to pick up the phone and call the installer mentioned in the mail. Another option is to seek a reference from a friend or neighbor who has already installed solar and directly reach out to a solar sales representative.

Once you establish contact with the solar company, they will proceed to ask you several questions. These inquiries serve the purpose of assessing your eligibility and determining whether you meet the criteria to become a suitable customer for solar installation.

Step 2: System Design

Once you qualify with EnergyPal or another solar company, you'll typically receive an initial solar system design in the proposal or price quote. The design aims to generate enough energy to offset most of your home's current or expected energy usage throughout the year. It can be presented as a satellite image or a schematic of your home with solar panels placed on top. While reviewing the design, you may have questions or concerns about panel placement.

Sometimes, solar companies may reduce the system size to show a lower price, even if it doesn't cover the full utility bill. This is known as “under-sizing.“ On the other hand, they may oversize the system to maximize sales revenue. It's important to note that local utility regulations may impose limitations or rules on the system's size or total energy production potential.

Step 3: Compare Quotes

Once you have received quotes, proposals, and system designs, you'll typically begin comparing them to find the best fit for your needs. Factors to consider may include the lowest monthly payment, highest power output, or specific details like system size, inverter type, or panel location on the roof. Solar proposals contain abundant information that may take time to understand, especially if you're handling it alone.

Unfortunately, comparing quotes can be challenging. The data is presented in different formats and may not be directly comparable. Companies might intentionally present information in a biased manner to win customers by making it seem more favorable.

The good news is that we specialize in simplifying this buying process. We can provide clear guidance on why certain quotes are better or worse for your specific situation, alleviating the pain of comparison.

Step 4: Contract Signing

Once you've chosen a company and preferred panel design, you'll enter the signing process. This involves informing your sales representative or selecting the preferred proposal online and agreeing to proceed.

In-person solar companies may have a representative visit your home, walk you through the proposal, and have you sign the contract on the spot. These interactions can be slightly high-pressure, with the outcome depending on the customer's satisfaction with the representative.

Signing the contract is a straightforward process. The customer receives the documents via email or online sharing and reviews the agreements before finalizing.

Step 5: Site Survey

Once you've decided to move forward with solar panel installation, the next step is a site survey. This survey involves a technician visiting your home to assess the site's suitability for solar panel installation. They will evaluate factors such as roof orientation, shading, and structural integrity to ensure that your solar panel system is both effective and safe.

Step 6: Engineering

After signing the contract, the engineering process begins behind the scenes. The engineering team utilizes inputs from the initial solar design, site survey results, and customer-provided information to finalize the layout and electrical configuration of the solar system. They also conduct a structural review to ensure the roof's safety for solar installation.

The purpose of engineering is to create plans that can be submitted to the local building permit office, known as the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), to obtain the necessary permits for the project.

During this step, you don't have much involvement unless the engineering department has questions. If issues arise, such as structural constraints or upgrades needed for the electrical panel, your sales representative will communicate them to you.

Step 7: Permitting

Once the design is complete, the solar panel installation company will handle the permitting process. This process involves securing the necessary permits and approvals from local authorities and ensuring compliance with all relevant regulations.

Want to learn more about the permitting requirements? Check out our article on the whole process.

Step 8: Installation

With the design and permits in place, the installation process can begin. A team of solar panel installation experts will mount the panels on your roof or another location, install wiring and inverters, and connect your solar panel system to the electrical grid.

Step 9: System Activation

Once the solar system is installed, it won't immediately become functional. The solar company needs to request a final inspection and submit documentation to the AHJ and utility.

After inspections by the city and utility, the system will receive permission to operate (PTO) from the electric utility. This typically occurs within 2 weeks to 2 months after installation, primarily due to utility bureaucratic processes and slow timelines.

Once PTO is granted, the system can be turned on by the Solar Company personnel. As soon as the sun shines, the system will start producing power, supplying it to the home or the grid. Customers can then use their system monitoring app to track the power generation.

Step-By-Step Installation Process:

StepDescriptionTimelineKey Considerations
QualificationAn initial evaluation to determine if solar is a good fit for your property based on energy consumption, roof orientation, and financial capability.1-2 weeksEnergy usage, budget, roof condition, solar irradiance
System DesignA custom design is created for your solar panel system, including the number of panels, their placement, and the type of solar panel technology that best suits your energy needs.1-2 weeksSystem size, panel placement, technology type, local regulations
Compare QuotesObtain and compare quotes from various solar providers. This helps ensure you're getting the best deal and the most suitable system for your needs.1-2 weeksPricing, included services, warranties, provider reputation
Contract SigningOnce you've selected a provider, you'll sign a contract that outlines the details of the installation, the costs, and any warranties or guarantees.1 weekContract details, warranties, financing options
Site SurveyA technician visits your home to assess the site's suitability for solar panel installation, including roof orientation, shading, and structural integrity.1-2 weeksRoof condition, shading, structural integrity, site accessibility
EngineeringDetailed engineering designs are created. These include electrical schematics, structural analysis, and final system design.2-4 weeksFinal design, safety, technical specifications
PermittingThe solar panel installation company secures necessary permits and approvals from local authorities and ensures compliance with relevant regulations.4-6 weeksLocal codes and regulations, permitting requirements and timelines
InstallationA team of solar panel installation experts mount the panels on your roof or another location, install wiring and inverters, and connect your solar panel system to the electrical grid.2-3 daysWeather conditions, scheduling, safety
System ActivationAfter a successful installation and inspection, your solar system is activated and starts generating electricity.1 weekUtility approval, system testing, activation


Installing solar panels is a smart investment that not only reduces your carbon footprint but also saves you money in the long run. By following the six primary steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure a successful and seamless installation process for your solar panel system. Additionally, taking the extra steps to evaluate your energy needs, research solar panel technology, assess your home's structural integrity, choose a reputable installation company, and consider financing options can help you make a well-informed decision about solar energy.

In addition to the financial and environmental benefits of installing solar panels, there's also the satisfaction of knowing that you're contributing to a more sustainable future. By reducing your reliance on fossil fuels, you're helping to decrease harmful greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Overall, installing solar panels is a wise investment that has numerous benefits. With careful planning and the right installation company, you can enjoy the many benefits of renewable energy while contributing to a more sustainable future for generations to come.

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