If you are thinking about installing your own solar, you should know that there is more to getting the job done than sweating it out on the roof and hooking up the wires. There is paperwork to be done before and after the solar panels go on the roof.
First, you have to get a permit from your local building department which will be the city you live in or the county if you are outside city limits. You will need what is typically called a “permit package” that will be several over-sized pages explaining to the building department exactly what you intend to do and proving that the work meets all the building and electrical codes.
This package will include a site plan showing where on your property all the solar equipment will be installed (including inverters and disconnects). There will be specifics on exactly how you plan to attach the system to your roof and details on the roof structure to show that it can handle the weight of all the solar panels and racking. You will need an electrical diagram that shows how all the solar components go together and how you will make the connection to the grid. Along with the diagram, you have to show all the calculations proving the solar components are compatible and that your interconnection to the grid will be code compliant. You will have to include the datasheets on all the equipment and you will probably also have to fill out some generic permit application forms when submitting all this.
You will also have to do some paperwork for your local utility company. They will want to know the all details of the solar equipment that you are connecting to their grid. Every utility is different but most of them will want you to complete and sign a “net-metering” agreement. This is basically a contract with the electric company that outlines details of responsibilities of both parties and may also cover things like what your electric rate will be after solar and how you will be compensated for energy fed into the grid at times when your solar is producing more than your home is using at any given time. The utility company may also require justification of your system size, especially if it produces more power than you normally use.
If you are lucky, there will be paperwork for a rebate or renewable energy credits (RECs). Rebates are often offered by state or local government. Sometimes they are offered by utility companies. Renewable energy credits are a way to get paid for the solar energy you produce and are only available in some places under certain circumstances. The amount of paperwork involved with these varies greatly and some programs require paperwork to be submitted before you start your installation process so make sure you check ahead of time and know what is expected.
Then there is the federal tax credit. On residential solar power systems, you get 30% of what you paid for your system off of what you owe in federal income taxes (for systems installed by December 31, 2019 after that drops to 26% for systems installed in 2020). In order to claim this tax credit, you simply have to fill out IRS Form 5695 and submit it with all your other tax forms. That is probably the easiest part of your whole DIY solar project.
So now you are prepared for what you have to do and if the thought of all this paperwork gives you a headache, here is a tip – if you buy your system from GoGreenSolar.com we help you with all of this paperwork. This will save you time, money and the dreaded paper cuts.