Knowing which Building Permits You Need to Install Solar Electric Panels

If you are interested in installing solar electric panels for your home to help save money on your monthly electric bill, you will need to know the various permits you will be required to have before you start work. Although you may be able to do some of the work yourself, local building codes and regulations in your area may require that licensed contractors or electricians apply for building permits and do certain parts of the job. This article will discuss the reasons for building permits and what types might be required for installation of a solar system in your home.

What Are Building Permits?

A building permit is a document issued by a local government grating permission to the property owner or a licensed contractor to build a new structure on a property or make additions or renovations to an existing structure. A request for a building permit must be accompanied by detailed plans for the work to be done as well as a list materials to be used. In order to be approved, plans must follow local zoning laws, building codes and other applicable laws and regulations.

Building permits help to insure that construction work is done in a safe and responsible fashion by requiring that construction jobs be done in a manner that meets certain standards for safety. This applies to solar system installations as well. Because solar panels can produce enough electrical current to power appliances and devices in your home, they can be dangerous and be a hazard if not installed properly.

A building permit helps to insure that the job will be done correctly, as it makes inspectors aware of the ongoing work and allows them to stop by and inspect the installation as needed. You never want to begin the installation of a solar system without first obtaining the proper permits. Failure to obtain a building permit could result in you having to remove the panels from your home.

Types of Permits You Will Need

Generally speaking, you will only need two types of permits to proceed with the installation of solar panels for your home: a basic building permit and an electrical permit. However, some local governments may also require a developmental permit, which usually only states that solar system installations are allowed in a particular zone or area of the city or county that issued the permit. Nevertheless, you should primarily be concerned about the building and electrical permits.

  • The Building Permit - As mentioned above, the building permit is simply a document grating you permission to install the solar panels on your home. It will allow you to begin work, and allow you to have the solar panels attached to your home's roof - but, it does not cover the wiring of the panels into your home's electrical system. Your local government may or may not require that the building permit be requested by a licensed contractor.
  • Electrical Permit - In most cases, the electrical permit will need to be requested by a licensed electrician. The electrical permit will be issued based on the plans of the electrician for installing the wiring in your home's solar panel system. The plan must call for materials and methods that meet local electrical codes in your area.

Other Licensing Considerations

Some areas require that solar panel installations be performed by electrical contractors that have been certified and are licensed by the North American Certified Energy Practitioners (NACEP). So, you should check with your local planning and development department for more information.