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Home Solar Panel Installation Guide

Written by Faith Foushee/

Edited by Hannah Hillson

Last updated 05/31/2023

Get an estimate of solar cost and savings at your home.

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Key Points

  • Solar panel installation times vary by solar company and system size.
  • Installation of the panels and physical components may take between eight hours and a week.
  • The labor costs of installing solar panels account for about 7% of the total.

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Steps in solar panel installation

  • Before you sign your solar contract, the solar installer will set up a time to visit your home and evaluate your roof’s size, condition, angle, and amount of shade. From there, the installer will recommend the right system size and generating capacity for your home. Many companies provide a digital design to show how the panels will look on your roof. Discuss your energy goals and ask the solar installer any questions you have, including placement.

  • After you find a good solar company for you, review the terms, price, and warranty before yousign the contract. The solar company will handle applying for the proper permits and other necessary approvals.

  • Next, you will schedule an onsite engineering consultation with a solar technician. The technician will come to your home, assess the structural integrity of your roof, and evaluate whether your roofing or electrical panel needs any maintenance before installation can begin. Any roof repairs must be completed before installing solar panels.

  • Your solar installation company will discuss a suggested system design for the best panel options, placement, and system size. Once you have reached an agreement, the solar panel company will provide a final estimate for the solar system, including all installation costs. If you agree to this estimate, you can schedule a time for installation.

  • The solar installer will begin by preparing your home’s roof for the panels and connecting the wiring that runs between your electrical panel and the larger power system. After this, the installer will put in the racking (a piece that supports the panels), connect the solar panels, and install the inverter, which converts direct current energy into alternating current energy (the kind that powers your home). Depending on your chosen installer and the necessary work involved, the installation process may be completed as quickly as eight hours or up to a week. Electrical work, such as panel upgrades, may increase the install timeline closer to the one week mark.

  • Once the solar installation is complete, a representative from your local government will inspect the system to make sure the wiring and installation was done correctly. After they approve, your solar system is ready for grid interconnection. A representative from your energy company will schedule a time to inspect your system and, if approved, connect it to the grid for you. Keep in mind the physcial connection takes place during install. PTO is the formal activation of your solar system within the utility technical infrastructure. From there, your solar panels will generate electricity and power your home.

  • The last step is to submit documentation of your system to fully benefit from tax credits or incentives available in your area. Read our guide to the Federal Solar Tax Credit for a detailed look into how you can apply. Visit any of our state solar pages to learn more about solar incentives in your area.

Mounting equipment 13%
Supply chain8%
Sales tax2%
Installation labor7%
Permits and inspection9%
Sales and marketing21%

Additional components, like solar batteries, are not a requirement but can be beneficial for reliability and energy bill savings. Solar battery storage systems are helpful for those who experience frequent power outages, have time-of-use energy plans, or if your state does not have favorable net metering programs.

Frequently asked questions

  • Based on NREL data, installation labor makes up 7% of the total cost. The average total cost in the U.S. is $31,558, so the average installation labor cost is $2,209. Installation labor is included in the total price paid to the solar company.

  • Sunpower, Lumio, ADT Solar, and Tesla are a few of the companies on our best solar companies list, but the best company for you depends on your location and priorities. If your priority is price, we recommend comparing quotes from multiple companies. Our best list includes nationwide companies that may not be available in your area. You may also consider local companies to support smaller businesses.

  • No. Solar panel installation is included in the total price of the solar panel system. It may be a scam if a salesperson offers free solar panels or installation.

  • Solar panel installation times vary by company. Some solar companies, like Lumio, claim to install in eight hours, while others may take a few days. Once you select an installer, they can provide a specific time frame.

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