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What’s an electrical inspection and why is it necessary for solar?

Curious about the solar system inspection, how it works, and why we require it? Well, we can help you. In this article, you'll find answers to the most commonly-asked questions regarding solar inspections and why they're necessary.

What’s an electrical inspection?

A solar electrical inspection is a review of your solar energy system and how we connected it to the electrical system in your home. We hire a certified inspector—usually from your local municipality—to perform the inspection. Among other things, your municipal inspector may check things like the information on your permit link to help "What's a permit and why is it necessary for solar?", the design of your solar energy system, and how we connected your solar energy system to your electrical system.

Think of it this way:

Before buying, most people hire a company to appraise a home and check to ensure that you’re paying an appropriate amount based on the value of the home. It also helps identify anything that could be potentially harmful to you or your home (pests, mold, etc.).

Same concept with an electrical inspection for solar.

We hire someone to inspect the solar energy system and ensure it’s safe for your household.

What does a solar electrical inspection look like?

Once we've installed your solar energy system, we review the design, re-check it against your permit, and pay for your municipality to come out and inspect the quality of our work.

On the day of the solar inspection, a local inspector visits your home and assesses the solar energy system. They look for things like the quality of the solar equipment, how we connected your solar system to your electrical system, and whether or not the design reflects the same information on the permit.

Once the inspector finishes their assessment, they determine whether the solar energy system passes or fails inspection. If it passes, they give us some form of proof that your solar energy system passes inspection, and we move on to the next step in the solar journey. If it fails, the inspector usually explains why. We then do everything in our power to address the inspector’s concern on the spot. If necessary, we reschedule and pay for a second inspection and try again.

Why is it necessary for someone to inspect my solar energy system?

The biggest and most important reason is safety. When the inspector assesses your Vivint Solar system, they check to see that the installation and solar equipment meet the minimum requirements for electrical and structural safety, according to national code. National code was developed to protect homeowners, the homes in which they live, and anyone else who may occupy the home from hazardous situations (fire, electrocution, etc.) due to poor workmanship. Because of national code, electricians and homebuilders alike must ensure that the quality of their work meets a minimum standard of safety requirements. This same standard applies to us as well. If we were to do a poor job of installing your solar energy system, it could cause irreparable damage to you, your home, or your loved ones. We don't want this, and neither do you. Your safety is important to us, which is why we ensure that all our systems pass local inspection before you activate them.

Who inspects my solar energy system?

Our policy is to go through the local municipality in your area, city, county, or township (whichever is applicable). You may hear it referred to as the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), but in this article, we'll refer to it as the municipality.

Most municipalities usually employ one or two professionals who are certified in building and electrical inspections. They are the ones who will visit your home to inspect the solar energy system. In some areas, the municipality does not employ a local inspector. If that's the case, we contract the work out with a local third-party business that employs a local inspector with similar credentials.

What does an inspector look for during a solar inspection?

Even though inspectors are certified, it doesn't mean that they all assess a solar energy system the same. Their review may be based on their experience in the industry, the design of your system, and the layout of your electrical system in your home.

Here’s a general list of things an inspector will check when evaluating a solar energy system:

  • They'll check the quality of your installation and solar equipment to ensure they meet the minimum requirements for electrical safety.
  • They'll check the quality of your installation to ensure we correctly connected your solar energy system to your electrical system.
  • They'll check your electrical panel to ensure it supports the addition of the solar energy system to your home.
  • They’ll check your electrical breakers to ensure that they have the capacity to support your solar energy system.

How does my utility company fit into the inspection process?

Utility requirements vary based on the area in which you live; however, regarding the solar inspection, utility companies generally care about three things:

  • Did the system pass? Most utility companies want assurance that the system passed electrical inspection with the municipality. In many cases, a utility company won't allow us to activate the solar energy system until we show proof that it has passed municipal inspection, and in select cases, will only accept evidence of a passed inspection from the municipality directly.
  • Does the permit match the design the utility has on file? Think of it like a kid asking one parent for one thing and then another parent for something entirely different. Most utility companies prefer to review the permit to confirm that the information they (the utility company) has on file is the same as the information that the municipality has on file. If the information on the permit differs in any way, the utility company may require us to change it, which we’ll gladly do. We work with your utility company to update any information they need from us and ensure the design meets their needs.
  • Did the system pass the utility company's inspection? In some areas, it's not enough for the utility company to see that the solar energy system passed the municipal inspection—they want to perform one themselves. We completely support this decision. In most cases, the utility company owns a homeowner’s electrical system, which means they have a vested interest in its performance. If they want to take one last look to ensure that everything has been installed appropriately, we'll work with them to schedule a final inspection with one of their electrical technicians.

For more information about electrical inspection, feel free to Contact Us or keep checking in on the Help Center as we continue to update it with answers to commonly asked questions from homeowners like you.

Copyright © 2020 Vivint Solar Developer, LLC. All rights reserved. Vivint Solar Developer, LLC (EIN: 80‐0756438) is a licensed contractor in each state in which we operate. For information about our contractor licenses, please visit vivintsolar.com/licenses.