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Solar permitting 101

3 min read

While installing solar at home has become a streamlined process that’s fairly straightforward, it is still a process that involves major electronic equipment and some degree of construction. Most of the time, home solar systems are connected to the electricity grid as well. This is true even if you have a backup battery.

All of these things mean that solar installation requires permitting and approval before homeowners can enjoy the perks of generating their own clean energy. While any permitting process can be somewhat daunting, solar permitting can be particularly complex.

This is because permitting for solar has not been standardized on a national level. In fact, permitting laws and regulations can vary not just at a state level, but at a local level as well.

Steps are being taken to make it easier and more cost effective. The more cost effective permitting is, the more affordable solar power will be for more people.

Solar permitting 101

What is solar permitting? Like any major construction or installation that could potentially affect not just your home but the homes of your neighbors, installing solar also includes submitting the project to the local or state government for approval.

Permitting can be required for anything from fencing installation and repair, to plumbing, electrical work, HVAC installation, and more. Additions and remodeling projects are big ones that could involve permitting. Though solar installation itself is a quick process, it’s still a major enough home improvement that permitting is required.

The thing that makes solar permitting so tricky is that solar permitting regulations can vary quite a lot from one state or even city to the next. All the irregularity can make solar permitting confusing, time consuming, and costly.

Making solar permitting more uniform will reduce the “soft costs” of installing solar. Soft costs are all the things that go into purchasing a solar system besides the actual hardware. Soft costs currently add up to about 64 percent of the total price tag of a system.

Steps being taken to improve solar permitting

Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP) Program

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) notes that solar permitting and other soft costs can add $1 per Watt to the price of installing home solar. To help remove the financial and time barrier of disorganized permitting processes, SEIA is educating industry and policymakers.

This program is known as the Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP) Program. By working toward a more standard solar permitting process across the U.S., the program aims to make it more efficient and affordable for homeowners.

Solar ABCs

The U.S. Dept of Energy and Solar America Board for Codes and Standards (Solar ABCs) teamed up to create a model expedited solar permitting process. They also provide permitting forms that can be filled out as a way to standardize the process across various regions.

Essentially, the Expedited Permitting Process simplifies the required analysis of a residential solar system. This includes both the electrical and structural elements, which makes the whole procedure quicker.

Resources to learn more about solar permitting

Vote Solar Initiative

This initiative is creating a national database with information on the various permitting policies and requirements across the vast areas of the U.S. Having this information compiled in one place will help to streamline permitting for everyone.

Solar permitting made easy with Vivint Solar

At Vivint Solar, we know all the ins and outs of solar permitting. We’re professionals who have done the solar installation process so many times, we’re more than equipped to help. In fact, part of the service you get with Vivint Solar is not having to worry about solar permitting yourself. We know the ropes and can simplify the process for you.

Reach out today with any questions you might have about solar permitting.

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