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Solar 101: Our Residential Solar Installation Checklist

Updated: 2 days ago

Solar install with permit

So, you've successfully obtained your contractor license to install solar systems in your area, found reliable solar suppliers, applied for your permits through the GreenLancer App, and have a project (or a few) lined up. Congrats! The next step is using our solar installer checklist to ensure you're ready to get boots on the roof and install the solar array.

Solar Installation Preparation

Safety is always the number 1 priority. Solar installers work with the two largest hazards in the construction industry: electricity and heights. Before heading to a solar project site, set a meeting to discuss safety protocols. Getting the solar installation crew home safely is always the goal -- this involves planning, intention, and awareness.

Run through the GreenLancer solar installation checklist to make sure you have all the required tools and materials. Forgetting a necessary material can waste a lot of time.

Arriving at the Solar Job Site

When you arrive on the site:

  • Hang the building and/or electrical permit in a visible, safe place

  • Set up an organized work area. Keep it away from any of the homeowner's valuables if possible. This includes fold-out work tables, saws, shelves, etc. Being organized saves time, and saving time saves money.

  • Open your Solar Permit Plans to sheet A-103. This sheet shows the project plan attached.

  • Plan the most effective way to install and work the plan from there. For example, when it comes time to place the solar panels on the racking, don’t start on the edge of the roof that you are entering from. That will only slow you down and create a potential tripping hazard.

solar installation 101

Solar Installation Checklist

When you're ready to begin your first solar installation, our checklist ensures you have all the critical steps covered that don't require a licensed electrician. From setting up safety measures to installing panels and connecting the system, this guide helps you navigate each phase of the actual installation process smoothly and efficiently.

Phase 1 - Solar System Racking

70% of the time on a job site comes from measuring, marking, and drilling racking. It is the most crucial part of the job for the following reasons:

  • It is the foundation of the finished product. Unaligned racking results in unaligned panels. This step is not to be rushed.

  • Roof leaks are another reason this step cannot be rushed. Doing the job the right way at all times saves the company and the homeowner from dealing with a leaking roof in the future.

There are twelve steps to phase 1 - Solar Racking Installation

  1. Gently put the ladder in place. You can use an old towel or blanket to place between the ladder and the siding/gutter to avoid any scratches.

  2. Secure the safety anchor. This will require a brave and confident individual to walk freely on the roof to its highest/safest point and place the safety anchor into a rafter. They then connect the remaining safety harnesses.

  3. The remaining crew joins on the roof with the required tools. *Pro Tip: There is such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen. Depending on the size and slope of the roof, most residential solar installation crews operate best, with three workers on the roof and one on the ground providing guidance.

  4. With the remainder of the solar installation crew on the roof, the leader on the roof will refer back to sheet A-103. At this point, it is time to measure the corners of the solar array.

  5. Once you have completed the outline of your rooftop solar system, you need to identify where your rails will be. The solar panels you order will specify this location on the spec sheet. It is typically 1 foot from the top and bottom of the PV module. These markings will be used to snap your chalk line.

  6. Locating and marking rafters is crucial to the installation. This is what solar inspectors will look for, and what makes the system structurally stable. Place a measuring tape from one end of the rail (step 5) to the other. Reference your plans and mark the appropriate rafter attachment point (in blue circles on your GreenLancer permit set) at the appropriate spacing.

  7. Snap a chalk line along the rail location from step 5. If done properly, this line should be perfectly straight. It is best to have two people on both ends and one person snap it from the center.

  8. Drill pilot holes to the manufacturer’s specifications. For the IronRidge FlashFoot 2, this requires a ¼ inch drill bit. Then, take a pry bar and GENTLY lift the shingles around each hole to make room for the flashing. *IMPORTANT*: When drilling pilot holes, it should take a little muscle to get all the way into the rafter. Saw dust should come out of the hole as you bring the drill back out of the hole. Keep the drill bit spinning while exiting the hole. If a rafter is missed, do not make a big deal about it and draw the attention of the homeowner. Simply grab a hammer and try to feel where it is. Once the rafter has been located, use roof sealant to fix the hole that you missed to prevent leaks.

  9. Insert the FlashFoot 2, and place it on the cap.

  10. View the solar plan set for required rail lengths. Add 2-6 inches to be safe, then cut and splice rails. IronRidge rails are made of aluminum and light, but walk them slowly up the ladder. Once on the roof, attach the rails to the cap of the FlashFoot 2.

  11. Ground the system. IronRidge solar rails are self-grounding, but they must be grounded properly to be safe. Each row of panels requires (1) ground lug to be placed on (1) rail. You can decide which rail makes the most sense on the job site.

  12. (Optional) Installing a SolaDeck to hide conduit. If attic space is available and you would like to hide your solar wire runs under the panels and through the attic back to the main service panel, you will want to install a “SolaDeck” for each string of panels. Installation is similar to the FlashFoot 2. Pry shingles gently, and fasten them in place per the manufacturer's instructions.

Phase 2 - Solar Micro-inverters or Power Optimizers

With your solar panel racking in place, it is time to install the micro-inverters or power optimizers.

  1. From the end of your rail, measure the distance of the width of the solar panel by half. Example: If a panel is 40 inches wide, measure 20 inches and make a line on the top of the rail. This should be the center of the solar panel and indicate where you will place the micro-inverter. From there, mark every 40 inches, which will be the center of all of the remaining panels.

  2. Fasten each micro-inverter to the rail in its specified location using the IronRidge micro-inverter bolt.

solar installation checklist

Phase 3 - Fasten Solar PV Panels

With your micro-inverters fastened to your rails, it is time to fasten your PV modules.

  1. Place your first PV modules in line with the array outline you marked previously. With one person holding the PV module in place, fasten it with an IronRidge UFO.

Phase 4 - Site Cleanup and Handoff

Now, we move on to cleanup and handoff.

  1. Connect the remaining wires to the junction box / Sola Deck. The system is now ready for a licensed electrician to run the wires to the home's Main Service Panel.

  2. If there is room to cut rails shorter, you may do so with a powered saw.

  3. Ensure that nothing is left on the rooftop that could fall later and damage the property or cause injury.

  4. Double-check that no wires have come loose or touched the roof.

  5. With the solar system installed, and the job site cleaned thoroughly, power the PV system off. It is now time to call for a solar inspection.

And just like that, you've completed your first solar installation! Keep the projects rolling, and you'll be installing like a pro in no time.

If you have any questions, e-mail us at, call us at (866) 436-1440, or visit our Support Hub. We have a team dedicated to your success as a solar installer.

Sign Up or Sign In to your GreenLancer account to start your next project!


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