Updated: Jun 5, 2021
Solar installations require a number of steps to design, procure, install, and commission. Today, I’m going to walk you through the steps that we would complete for a typical residential solar installation.
1. Preliminary Design
To get a solar installation designed, we must first determine how the system will be designed and what the required outcomes are. This is completed via a discussion with the potential client regarding their “wish list”. Whether it be offsetting their electrical usage, a specific off-grid application, or simply aesthetics, this initial discussion will determine how we can design a system specific to your needs.
Once we determine what your initial requirements are, a satellite design is prepared for discussion in order to ensure that we’re on the right track. This preliminary design is meant to show the possible potential of your roof and a designed system. If the design and indicative pricing meet your needs, we can then move to scheduling a site assessment.
2. Site Assessment
Once you’ve approved an initial design and want to move forward, we will schedule you in for a site assessment. This allows us to complete a walkthrough of the property to determine the finer details of an installation in order to offer the most accurate quote possible.
Some of the items checked during a site visit are:
Electrical service size
Main panel loading and bus size
General condition of electrical wiring
Roof access and condition
Electrical meter location and condition
Azimuth and orientation of roof
Obstructions on roof and near electrical panel
Possible inverter installation locations
And so on…
A typical site assessment takes about 30 minutes and should be completed when someone is home to allow for access to the electrical panel. If conditions allow, access to the roof will provide additional assessment information such as roof material, condition, and measurements. If access is not possible, we can schedule a drone flight to achieve similar results.
Once an assessment is completed, we can then take it back to the office and prepare a complete design and proposal tailored to your needs.
3. Design and Proposal
Preparing the final design and proposal is as easy modifying the preliminary assessment to account for any additional data attained during the site assessment. From here, we can then break out the material and labour required to completed the installation. We feel that this is a more accurate method of estimating as it shows our true costs and allows us to break out the final quote to our clients in a much more transparent fashion.
The numbers are crunched and a final amount is obtained and ready to be presented. This gets added to a custom proposal which includes additional projection data for the proposed system. Once prepared, a meeting is scheduled with the client to review the documents. Additional documents are made ready to be sent upon request such as licenses, certifications, and so on.
4. Proposal Acceptance
After the client has approved the proposal and final design, the real work begins. This includes the following:
Material ordering and scheduling
Permitting and interconnection applications
Any applicable rebate applications
Labour scheduling and planning
Financing applications (if applicable)
From the moment of acceptance, it takes about a week or two to get everything else lined up before work can begin on the roof. This assumes there are no snags in the applications process. Depending on the time of year, this time may be extended.
The permits have been pulled. The material’s on site. Our crew just arrived and they’re ready to get going! Installation day is finally here!
Day 1 – We’ll develop our site safety plans, install fall protection points, and start laying out the installation on your roof. We can typically get so far as to install the rack mounting points by the end of the first day.
Day 2 – We’ll finish up any racking points then get to work installing the racking system that was selected in the design. This process can take all day depending on the system, but we’re likely getting to the wiring well before day’s end.
Day 3 – We’re ready to start working inside. We’ll run conductors down to your electrical panel and tie them in to the panel or inverter, depending on your system topology. Meanwhile, once the wiring is completed on the roof, we’ll start installing the modules!
Day 4 – We’ll have the wiring completed, modules installed, and inverters ready to go. The next two days are budgeted for any delays, additional installation work, and so on.
Once the installation is completed and made safe. We apply all required labelling and diagrams before booking an electrical inspection. The electrical inspection is booked according to your schedule and you must be home during the inspection. After the inspection passes, we can move on to the remaining applications and commissioning.
6. Remaining Applications and Commissioning
Now that we have a completed, inspected solar installation, we can then notify the Wire Services Provider (WSP) in your area that the installation is complete and provide the inspection report. This is required by the WSP before they will allow you to feed energy back into the electrical grid. Additional applications to submit may include financing completion documents, rebate documents, and commissioning reports.
Commissioning a solar installation properly is a way to create a benchmark for your system performance and ensure that the system’s recorded production is close to the designed results. A proper commissioning consists of measuring the current weather conditions along with system parameters to calculate a level of production and match that to the actual, measured production. A report is then generated and provided to the client. From there, additional reports may be completed throughout the lifespan of the system in order to track the systems production over time.
7. Completion and Ongoing Support
Your new solar installation is now up and running! We’ll provide you with monitoring capabilities and walkthrough the final system operation with you. All documents and manuals are left on site along with any login information required for monitoring.
We provide a one year warranty on installation labor as well as ongoing support via email or phone. If there are any issues after the one year period, you will receive priority support from our electricians to ensure that your system is operating at peak capacity.
That’s the outline of the steps required for a residential solar installation. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.