By Tim Henderson
Installing home solar panels is an exciting process, but how long does it take?
While that answer varies from job to job, there are a few recurring factors that influence installation time. Understanding these can help you get a better feel for the time commitment of your solar project, and estimate when you’ll get to enjoy your panels and take that extra step toward going green at home.
Here’s what you need to know.
According to EnergyInformative.org, the average installation time for a standard 3-kilowatt system is between 1-3 days, or about 75 working hours. The site breaks this down into about 49 hours of electrician installation labor, and about 26 hours of non-electrician installation labor.
Again, the exact installation time for your solar project will vary depending on the size of the project, its location, and the team working to install it.
As you create a solar power system for your home, there are a few factors that will affect total installation time.
These are as follows:
The first step in the solar installation process is the site evaluation. Your solar team must come to your home and inspect your roof and rafters to make sure your home is a good fit for solar panels.
During this evaluation, the team may also make a plan for bypassing installation difficulties and identifying where the panels will be most effective.
Once the team has evaluated and scheduled your project, they’ll start the permitting process. Before they can begin work on your site, they’ll need to obtain electrical permits from the city.
These permits will outline the building codes and best practices the installers must follow during the installation. While permits cost some money, the expense of these will typically be rolled into the price of the solar energy system.
The solar installer will need to order materials to facilitate your project. If you’re installing a small array, they may be able to source materials from what they have on hand. If you’re installing a more extensive array, though, they’ll have to order parts, which can take a few weeks.
Once the team has a good idea of how and where they’ll install the panels, they’ll go ahead and schedule your project.
Depending on their installation schedules, this time slot could be anywhere from a few days to a week or more out.
Now comes the fun stuff – the installation process. This is one of the largest things that determines the duration of your project. Your installation team will include a crew of workers who will come to your house, set up scaffolding, and get to work installing your panels.
They’ll start by securing a frame to your roof and rafters to distribute the weight of the panels, and then they’ll attach and wire the panels. While this goes quickly for small systems, it can be somewhat extensive for larger panel systems.
Once your panels are installed, your workers will need to connect them to an inverter. This inverter converts DC power to AC power, which runs the appliances in your home. If you’re interested, you can also store excess power in a battery storage system. Talk to your installer about this option if you’re interested.
Once the system is connected to the inverter, you’ll need to complete a NET metering application with PG&E. While the application is simple enough, the approval process can take several weeks, and is necessary to operate in California. Your solar installer can help you with this process.
How many hours does it take to install solar panels?
The answer depends on the details of your project. If you’re installing a straightforward, standard system, you can expect a rapid installation process of just a few days. If it’s a more extensive project, though, the process will likely take longer.
If you’re considering installing a solar system on your home in Monterey, Santa Cruz, or Santa Clara county, contact us for a quote and an accurate time estimate today.
Tim has worked in the solar industry since 2008. He has a Master's Degree in Energy Resources Engineering from Stanford University. His years of experience include working on solar energy projects for both homes and commercial properties. Tim enjoys sharing his knowledge of this evolving industry and making a difference in his community.