The Panels Are Installed — Now What?
The Final Countdown.
by Alex Kelleher
5 min read - Published on 05/10/2022
Once you see those solar panels up on your roof, it can be tough to understand why you can't just go flip the big switch and turn them on. Totally understand, 100%.
Switching to solar is a big decision, and we know you are eager to begin using that clean energy that your system can produce, but sometimes it’s not that simple. There are a few more steps beyond installation before your panels can be turned on and fully operational.
Federal and State Regulation Checks
As with any other construction project, there are many steps in the solar installation process to make sure it meets all federal, state, and local regulations. These regulations protect you, your home, and our crew; they're kind of important! Employees from the county, city, or utility company will stop by and run through a quick inspection to make sure everything is up to code.
After our crew has done their part and the panels have been installed, the final inspection required by your city to inspect the system and ensure compliance with all applicable codes and regulations gets scheduled. The inspection is critical to making sure we didn't miss anything and it helps to hold our installation teams to our quality standards.
City or County Inspections
No need to add this to your to-do list: we will coordinate with your city to schedule a time for the final inspection, and most of the time you don't even have to be home.
While Lumio works to keep good relations with each city we service, it is ultimately up to them to schedule the final inspection in a timely manner. Depending on your city/county this can take anywhere from a few days, to a few weeks to complete. Most often, the final inspection is passed the first time. However, occasionally there may be a minor fix or two. Lumio typically gets these resolved and inspection passed within a few days.
Utility Inspection and PTO
After the final inspection we start to look for permission from the utility company to activate your system; this step is commonly referred to as PTO, or Permission to Operate.
Similar to the city’s inspections office, utility companies are responsible for completing this in their own timeframe, and some companies are more responsive than others. This last inspection by the utility company makes sure your system will connect safely to the grid, enabling you to pull power from the grid when you need to.
This connection to the power gird also allows you to get paid for the extra power your panels generate through any available Net Metering Programs. Learn more about Net Metering here.
What to Expect During the Final Inspection
The final inspection is an opportunity to have outside eyes take a look at the installation and equipment of your solar panels to verify everything looks good. You’ll have peace of mind knowing there were no issues with installation and your system is almost ready to go.
We will request the final inspection from the city, then they will have to schedule it.
On inspection day, you will expect to see both your city inspector and someone from Lumio on site. While you do not necessarily need to walk through the inspection with them, having someone home may be useful if they need to get access to the roof or garage.
There are a few main issues the inspector will be looking for. They make sure electrical wires are connected and concealed properly, electrical bonding and grounding meet code requirements, and all parts of the solar project are ready to power on.
Leave it to the Pros
There are an infinite number of things that may cause an inspection to fail, some of which are general electrical missteps such as the incorrect installation of grounding or wires, and failed GFCI protection. Others are more specific to solar, such as proper electrical sizing, roof penetration testing and sealant, and system markings, labels, and signs on your photovoltaic system.
At Lumio, we know your local permit codes and requirements and are able to install accordingly, making the inspection as simple and smooth as possible the first time. We help protect your home from damage, and because we use all our own fully certified and trained installation crews, you will more than likely fly through the inspection with flying colors the first time.
Permission to Operate
This last step is critical in getting your home’s new renewable energy system operational. Connecting your solar system to the grid is important for a few reasons:
- Supplies you with power when your system isn’t producing enough (cloudy days, nights, etc.)
- Sends any of your excess power back to the grid for a credit from the power company
- Required, unless you have a battery to operate without connecting to the grid (this also varies by state)
Your solar company will request permission from your utility company to activate your solar system and get it connected to the grid. While we know you don’t want to wait any longer to use your newly installed system, we are at the mercy of your utility company. Some companies have this completed in a day or two, and others can take up to four weeks to grant permission.
As soon as your solar company gets the approval, your system will be turned on and able to start producing clean energy to save you money. Say goodbye to any more high bills, fees or rate hikes from your power company. Adios, Amigos.
While we wish we could guarantee a quick turnaround with the inspection from the city and permission to operate from the utility company, we unfortunately don’t have control of their time frame.
Your project may feel like it’s stalling for a few weeks as we wait for these things. We try our best to keep you in the loop, but if you feel like your project has gone on longer than expected, please reach out to us and we would be happy to provide you with an update at any time.
Once your system is installed and operational, Lumio will contact you to gather feedback and make sure you are completely satisfied with your system and energy production. We strive to make sure we have met your expectations and that you are enjoying your personal power.
Clean Energy Production
Now that your system has been properly inspected and connected to the grid, sit back and watch the magic unfold.