The SST Process

Theoretically, you understand how photovoltaic (PV) solar systems work—silicon panels capture sunlight and turn it into electricity. But now that you’ve finally got your family talking about using solar power for your home, you need to know exactly how solar systems work in real life. In other words: What’s it take to get solar panel installation rolling? How do you get solar panels installed? What all’s involved in planning for solar power?
All good questions. And the answers are not always obvious or easy to find. Here’s a rundown on the pre-install phase, when you determine to go solar to start benefiting your family. This is the stuff that takes place before any installation begins.
  1. Solar Solutions Today rep arrives:

We perform a preliminary inspection. Discuss your current and future energy needs, while inspecting your facilities. We determine your specific “load profile”—how much energy you use and when you use it. Our representative will be able to tell you if there are any insurmountable obstacles, like a poor site location, and discuss possible objections by your utility provider. At the same time, we will show what incentives are out there that can make the project less expensive, including net metering. Usually, any problems can be worked out in the next step: your solar audit.
  1. The Site audit:

Our experts do the nitty-gritty work of figuring out how to go solar—specifically, how to connect your solar system to the local utility grid. They’ll want to know things like what equipment you have. Does the proposed site for your solar array get enough sun exposure? If not, is there another site that will work? Do you already have other types of power generation like gas generators? Is there physical space in your current electrical equipment to tie in a PV solar system to your electrical system? We will also take a close look at your roof (assuming that’s where the panels go). If your roof is old or in bad shape, we might recommend replacing it before any work is done. Or, we may suggest one of the other two main options—installing your solar system on the ground or building a solar carport.
  1. Design phase:

Our engineers will create a schematic to illustrate how your specific solar panel installation should be designed. It will show how many panels are needed for your power load and how you should position them. The schematic will also show what equipment upgrades might be needed to accommodate the system.
  1. The project manager steps in:

Early in the process, Solar Solutions Today will designate a point person who can answer questions and will keep the project rolling. This project manager will handle tasks such as dealing with applications, permits, utilities and paperwork. It will be their job to keep all the parties updated.
 
  1. Apply to the utility:

Once the design gets settled, the project team will seek approval from all the necessary entities—such as the local government or power company—to obtain any permits required for your solar system. Solar Solutions Today will also present a schematic to the utility, showing how your system will work. All permitting and other fees are included in your quoted price.
  1. Find out about upgrades:

In your application, the utility will be looking to make sure nothing in your plan endangers their infrastructure. Keep in mind that you’re making an addition to the U.S. electrical grid, perhaps the most complicated mechanical system in the world. Most of their old equipment was designed to send electricity one way—to the consumer. Most utilities are ready to connect solar to the grid, but some drag their feet. Yours may expect you to help them pay for upgrades to their equipment. Most of these upgrades are small, when they happen at all.
  1. Approval:

You either don’t have any equipment upgrades from the utility or the ones you do have are acceptable. The utility likes your plan, you like your plan the installation phase can begin.
It’s natural to wonder how long this process takes. Count on at least two months assuming no other energy efficiency upgrades.