For those who do not know the logistics that go into it, the solar panel installation process can be daunting for commercial facility owners. Whether you are just looking for a few panels to increase efficiency, or an entire building automation system to lower your utility costs as much as possible, installing a solar energy system is a process that takes a great deal of time and research. Projects can take up to six months to complete, so, it is imperative that you or your company knows all the steps involved to plan accordingly.
There are eight steps which must be followed to properly complete solar installation projects.
1. Call a commercial solar company or an Energy Service Company (ESCO)
- Find a solar provider that has a successful track record of solar panel installation.
- Ask other companies that already have solar for references.
- Get informed on what solar does and how it can benefit you. Also, don’t expect to get an exact price quote or any specific details from the solar company right away. There are a lot of factors the solar company will need to evaluate to get you a full quote.
2. Meet with a company representative to discuss your energy use and possible financial incentives
- The current and future energy needs of your facility will be addressed.
- The representative will ask for your utility billing history to get a better understanding of your commercial building’s energy use.
- The specifics on your facility’s “load profile” will be discussed, including: how much and when you use energy, as well as the role of solar in improving energy efficiency.
- Incentives, which can make the project less expensive (such as tax credits and rebates), will also be covered at this stage.
3. Consultation with an audit team
- The required methods to connect the solar system to the local utility grid will be discussed
- The energy audit team will provide an in-depth analysis of your building and current energy assets
- Your facility’s roof is closely examined in this step to ascertain how and where solar panels will be installed
4. Design phase
- In this step, the engineers will determine how many panels your facility will need and what equipment upgrades will go along with the system to achieve the best possible results
5. The project manager steps in
- The project manager keeps all parties updated on the status of the project, from the initial planning phase to completion
- He will handle applications, permits, utilities, and any other paperwork
6. Apply for permits from utility company
- The project team will need get approval to build the solar system by obtaining the necessary permits
- The utility company may charge a small application fee
7. Discuss system upgrades
- To connect your solar panels to the grid, some small upgrades to the solar system may be required. The project team will work out and communicate those logistical details
8. Project approval
- Once all parties involved approve of the plan, the construction phase of the solar project can begin
- This process could take several months