Solar Panel Installation Process: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Installing solar panels on a home can be an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment. After performing research to learn about solar energy and solar power systems and determining that you wish to install panels to generate solar energy, the next step will be to find a contractor to perform the work. The style of your home will determine the installation process, and it's important to find a contractor who has the necessary skills and expertise. Learn about the entire solar panel installation process and how to prepare for the project.

Site Assessment and Design

The first step in installing solar panels is assessing the site and the design parameters of the solar project. Site assessment and design typically takes between one and four weeks to complete. The contractor will perform an initial site inspection to gather information about the project and your needs. Then the contractor will design the solar panel system to fit your house. The contractor might inform you about any modifications you must make before installation, such as making roof repairs or trimming trees.


The permitting phase takes between two and eight weeks. The contractor will submit the solar panel design plan to your local government agency for review and approval. The approval process varies depending on the region and the local municipality. The contractor handles the process, keeping you apprised of the progress. Once approved, your project will receive the permit required to proceed.

Solar Panel Installation

After approval by your local government agency, the installation phase begins. Generally, installation takes up to one week and includes ordering the panels and preparing the roof. Most solar panel systems can be installed in one or two days, depending on the scale of the project.

  • On the day of installation, the work crew installs wiring and mounting equipment first.
  • Then the solar panels are positioned in place and connected to the wiring.

Government Inspection

Your local government or municipality will perform a final inspection of the solar panels to ensure that they were installed correctly. This usually happens within two to three weeks of installation. This inspection must be completed before you can use the solar panels. Some municipalities will also install a net meter on your system, which tracks the amount of solar energy produced. The net meter allows your home to redirect excess solar power back into your local electrical grid.


After receiving final approval from your local municipality, you can turn the solar panels on and begin harvesting solar energy. The contractor should demonstrate how the system works so you know exactly how to use it. Ask the contractor about maintenance work you might need to do to keep the solar system functioning correctly. Some maintenance may need to be performed by a professional to uphold the terms of a warranty.

Factors that Impact Solar Panel Installation

Some factors will affect how solar panels are installed. These panels work most effectively on large, rectangular roof sections that face the south. Shadows cast by nearby buildings or trees can reduce the efficiency of solar panels. Roofing material also has an impact on solar panels. The roofing material needs to be sturdy, strong, and in good condition for best results. If a new roof is in order, this can be done at the same time that the solar panels are installed.

How to Prepare Your Home for Solar Panel Installation Day

Homeowners usually don't need to perform much work to prepare for solar panel installation. Contractors will provide a list of things to do, if necessary.

  • Make sure the roof is free of obstructions, such as overhanging tree limbs and a satellite dish.
  • Consider having pets or small children spend the day elsewhere if pounding and other noises will bother them.
  • Clear space in the driveway and yard for the installation crew to work. Put away outdoor furniture and decorations so the crew can set up scaffolding around the perimeter of the house. Relocate vehicles so the crew can park as close to your home as possible for loading and unloading purposes.

Additional Resources