If you live where a homeowners association must approve a solar electric system, you or your photovoltaic provider may need to submit your plans. You’ll need approval before you begin installing your photovoltaic system. However, some state laws stipulate that you have the right to install a solar electric system on your home.
You will probably need to obtain permits from your city or county building department. These include a building permit, an electrical permit, or both. Typically, your photovoltaic provider will take care of this, rolling the price of the permits into the overall system price.
However, in some cases, your photovoltaic provider may not know how much time or money will be involved in “pulling” a permit. If so, this task may be priced on a time-and-materials basis, particularly if additional drawings or calculations must be provided to the permitting agency. In any case, make sure the permitting costs and responsibilities are addressed at the start with your photovoltaic provider before installation begins.
Code requirements for photovoltaic systems vary somewhat from one jurisdiction to the next, but most are based on the National Electrical Code (NEC). Article 690 in the NEC spells out requirements for designing and installing safe, reliable, code-compliant photovoltaic systems. Because most local requirements are based on the NEC, your building inspector is likely to rely on Article 690 for guidance in determining whether your photovoltaic system has been properly designed and installed. If you are one of the first people in your community to install a grid-connected photovoltaic system, your local building department may not have experience in approving one of these systems. If this is the case, you and your photovoltaic provider can speed the process by working closely with building officials to bring them up to speed on the technology.