How Long Does It Take To Install Solar Panels?


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While solar panel installation itself can be completed within a few hours to a few days. The entire process, from choosing an installer to obtaining permission to operate, typically takes between two and six months depending on where you live, the services, your solar company, etc.

One of the most important questions you may have if you’re considering adding solar panels to your house is, “How long does it take to install solar panels?” 

It is a valid concern, as you’re eager to harness the sun’s power and start reaping the benefits of clean, renewable energy while offsetting your electricity costs. This article will comprehensively answer this question, sharing personal experiences and insights.

Understanding the Solar Installation Process

Before we go into the timeline, let’s break down the solar installation process into three key phases:

Before Installation: 

This phase involves selecting a reputable solar installer, conducting a site assessment, designing the solar system, applying for necessary permits, and ordering equipment.


In this stage, the experts from the solar company install the solar panels on your roof and link them to the electrical system.

After Installation: 

After the panels are in place, the final steps include city inspection and interconnection with the utility company to grant permission to operate.

Now, let’s move into each phase in more detail.

Experts who know how to install solar panels can turn installing solar panels on roofs into a fine science. Solar installers from professional solar power installation companies can complete the job within a few hours. 

However, while installing solar panels can be finished in a few hours or days, it usually takes two to six months to complete the entire process, depending on your location, your solar company, the solar panels you select, and whether a new service panel or battery backup is also being installed. 

This is because the time it takes to sign the contract, select an installer, and get permission to operate is not always the same. For example, going solar in California takes approximately 45 days from when a signed contract is submitted, which might seem like a long time, but it’s well worth it for 25 years of electricity bill savings!

Although you are not expected to get directly involved with the installation process, answering the question “How long does it take to install solar panels?” and ensuring you understand your project’s happening is a priority. 

Below is a breakdown of what homeowners and customers can expect after committing to going solar 

Phase 1: Before Installation

1. Choosing an Installer:

The first step in your solar journey is to choose a reliable solar installer. The first thing you need to do is choose a good solar installer. This step is the most crucial part of the process. 

The company you work with will make or break your experience with installation. Who you choose can affect how much you pay and the overall quality of the work on your roof. 

Take your time to research and select a company that meets specific criteria such as:

  • Has been in business for at least 5 years.
  • Employs NABCEP-certified installers.
  • Has positive customer reviews.

It would help if you also tried to find multiple installers in your area and obtain quotes from them so you can compare. To be safe, get at least three quotes – but don’t be afraid to get more! 

Getting multiple solar quotes lets you get a feel for each company and will get you the best price on your installation. 

This selection process can take anywhere from one day to two weeks, depending on your diligence in researching and obtaining quotes from multiple installers. 

Choosing the right solar installer was a pivotal moment in my solar journey. I had heard numerous stories of exceptional and disastrous experiences with solar installations, so I was determined to make an informed decision, asking questions like “How long does it take to install solar panels? What company is the best solar installation company around?

I scoured the internet, read reviews, and asked friends and neighbors for recommendations. It was during this phase that I stumbled upon a recommendation from a neighbor who had recently gone solar. Their glowing testimonial about their installer sparked my interest.

I followed their advice and reached out to the same installer. To my delight, the company had been in the solar business for over a decade, far surpassing the 5-year criterion I had set. 

Furthermore, they proudly boasted NABCEP-certified installers among their team, a reassuring sign of their commitment to quality.

Site Assessment:

Once you’ve chosen your installer, they will conduct a site assessment to ensure your roof is suitable for solar panels. This assessment typically takes about a week to schedule and complete.

During this assessment, a representative from the solar company will examine your roof’s condition, size, direction, and sun exposure. They will also determine if your roof can support the weight of solar panels and if any electrical upgrades are required.

System Design:

Since every city has its own set of rules, regulations, and procedures, no two projects are identical regarding making sure your system complies with those requirements.

The engineers’ system design and engineering is to meet the city’s regulations and maximize customers’ return on investment. 

Before the permits are applied, the overall layout with customers or homeowners must be confirmed to ensure the system design matches expectations correctly. This stage considers your electricity usage, local building codes, and utility requirements to ensure the system is tailored to your home. 

System design takes two to three weeks on average, but more complex systems may require up to four weeks.

Permit Applications:

A burning question in the minds of many considering solar panels is, “How long does it take to install solar panels?” Well, obtaining the necessary permits is a crucial step in the solar installation process. 

The time frame for securing permits can range from two to seven weeks, depending on your municipality’s requirements. Your installer will handle the paperwork, but the process’s duration can vary. 

Ordering Equipment and Scheduling Installation:

Once permits are secured, your installer can start scheduling your installation. If they have the equipment on hand, the installation can begin shortly. 

However, if equipment needs to be ordered, everything may take one to four weeks to be delivered. Battery installations may require additional waiting time due to high demand.

Phase 2: Installation

This is the exciting phase where your solar panels are physically installed on your roof. Now, how long does it take to install solar panels? The actual installation process typically takes between six hours and three days, depending on the system’s size and complexity. 

Installers will lay down the racking systems, position the panels, and connect all necessary wiring. You don’t necessarily need to be present during installation unless access to your garage is required for equipment installation.

The installation phase of my solar journey was filled with excitement and anticipation. After meticulously selecting the right solar installer during the first phase, I couldn’t wait to see my chosen panels finally adorning my roof and harnessing the sun’s power.

The installation day arrived, and the team of skilled installers descended upon my home with an air of professionalism that immediately put my mind at ease. They came equipped with all the necessary tools and equipment, ready to turn my roof into a clean energy powerhouse.

“How long does it take to install solar panels?” I had decided to be present during the installation, not because it was required, but out of sheer curiosity and eagerness to witness the transformation firsthand. 

As the installers started laying down the racking systems and positioning the panels, I was struck by the precision and efficiency with which they worked.

It was fascinating to observe how each step was carefully executed, from securing the panels to ensuring they were perfectly aligned to capture the maximum sunlight. 

The team’s coordination and expertise were evident, and it instilled confidence in me that I had made the right choice with my installer.

Phase 3: After Installation

With the panels in place, the final phase includes inspection and interconnection with your utility company.

 City Inspection:

A local inspector will visit your home to ensure the solar system is built correctly and complies with building laws and regulations. This inspection usually takes a few hours, but scheduling it may add up to two weeks to the process. 

In considering the question: How long does it take to install solar panels? You may not know, but inspection is an essential phase that guarantees that the solar energy system was installed appropriately, safely, and with equipment that matches the approved engineering plans. 

With solar energy, you are installing a power plant on the top of your roof, so it is vital that the city checks to ensure everything is done correctly and safely. 

In some cities and under some circumstances, the City Building and Safety Department may not be the only agency obliged to conduct inspections. For instance, you must pass the Fire Department Inspection to get the final approval from the building and safety department in Chino Hills, California. 

When the inspector arrives on the inspection day, a technician will be sent to your property to greet them and conduct an installation walkthrough. 

It would help if you took immediate action to remedy any corrections that may arise. The inspection stage may change depending on the season and the amount of backlog the city has for inspections.

Interconnection Process & Permission to Operate:

The last step is to have your solar system interconnected and activated with the grid, switched to solar billing, and obtain your utility company’s permission to operate (PTO). This process, including installing a new electric meter, can take two to six weeks.

Solar billing, or net energy metering (NEM), is a billing method that enables the owner of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system to store energy in the electric grid. When the amount of electricity generated by your solar panels is greater than what you need, it will be fed back into the grid in return for credits. 

Thus, until you finish this last step, even with your solar energy system turned on, you will not be credited for any excess you sell back to your utility company. 

Factors Impacting Installation Timeline

Are you still pondering the question of how long does it take to install solar panels?

Remember that several factors can impact the timeline of your solar installation, including:

1. Approval from HOA (Homeowners Association)

If your homeowner’s association requires approval, this can add time to the process.

2. Upgrading your Main Panel

Upgrading your electrical panel may be necessary, leading to additional inspections and permits.

3. Roof Repair

If your roof needs repair, it may require permits and extend the installation timeline.

4. Unpermitted Structures and Service Panel

Any unpermitted work on your home can create delays, as it must be addressed and permitted.

5. Solar Equipment Availability

Availability of solar equipment, especially during disruptions like COVID-19, can impact installation time.

Final Thoughts 

Solar is the cheapest energy source available in the market, offering the benefits of lower energy bills, increased home value, and reduced environmental impact, making the wait worthwhile.

Reflecting on the installation phase, I realized that being present had allowed me to connect on a deeper level with my solar journey. It wasn’t just about the result; it was about appreciating the craftsmanship and dedication that went into bringing clean energy to my home. 

So, if you’re still seeking an answer to the question, how long does it take to install solar panels? Remember that the journey involves multiple steps, and your patience will be rewarded with years of clean, renewable energy. Solar power is the future, and with the proper knowledge and a trusted installer, you can enjoy the benefits for many years.

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