• Team GreenLancer

7 Step Plan to Ensure Solar Permit Success

Updated: Feb 26

Commercial Solar Array

Permitting is routinely voted as one of the most difficult and frustrating aspects when it comes to installing solar. That's because each building department has autonomy to choose how to interpret codes and special solar requirements.

That's why most installers will tell you how exciting it is when a customer signs a solar contract, but even more exciting when the permit is approved by the local jurisdiction because it usually means they have satisfied milestones to obtain over 60-75% of what's owed per the contract. Speed to permit and installation is a metric that many installers track because it's vital for cashflow, especially if the contract or the financing are tied to milestones for payment installments.

Therefore, it's vitally important that the permit is obtained on the first submission to avoid days or weeks of delays without payment addressing the plan reviewer's corrections.

Solar Permit Challenges from City Hall

When applying for a permit, a first time approval rate above 90% is exceptional, here's why:

  • There are over 18,000 building departments and 2,000 utilities that govern solar energy

  • Each has their own solar energy rules, requirements, and codes

  • Plan checkers must show evidence of their work by rejecting a percentage of plans

  • Building Dept. personnel will do the bare minimum of work to get the job done

  • Different personnel will give different or conflicting answers

Making a Plan for Success at the Building Dept

There are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success when approaching the solar permit process.

1. Call Ahead

  • Research Codes - Which national electric code does the AHJ use? 2017, 2014, etc.

  • Fire offsets - How far from the edge of the roof lines do the panels need to be / how close to the edges will they allow?

  • Make sure you have the right address

  • Any other special rules we should know about

2. Organization

  • Make sure you are filling out the proper type of building and electrical application

  • Turn in the most recent versions of the plans

  • Have data sheets from the Manufacturers of the equipment

3. Learn the process

  • Stay on top of logistical, cost, and technical details so you are knowledgeable and prepared

4. Mind your appearance

  • Presentation counts! Make sure you are presentable and well put together

5. Have a good attitude

  • Building department personnel will be much more willing to work with someone who's level-headed and understanding

6. Pre-Submit Review:

  • Have the proper code requirements reflected in the plans

  • Have an electrical diagram sheet in the plans (GL Provides)

  • Hav your safety labels and placard sheet in the plans (GL Provides)

  • Have a title block on the plans (GL Provides)

7. Play Defense:

  • If plans are rejected, ask what is wrong if you don't understand. Make markings on sheet. See what an example of an approved project looks like, etc.

Armed with these above tips are a great first step to getting your permits approved.

If you want to learn more about how to create a winning plan that is sure to get passed, contact us by filling out the form below