Monalee is waiving the security deposit ($100 value) on new solar projects. Promotion expires 7/22/24.

Demystifying Solar: A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the Installation Process

There's a lot that happens when installing your solar system. Here's a beginner's guide to get you started.

Megan McDonough
Head of Content
Demystifying Solar: A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the Installation Process
Mar 26, 2024
6 min read

Deciding to invest in solar is one of the best things you can do for the planet, and the benefits don’t end there. Having a solar system for your home increases its overall value and you become more energy independent, which is extra important during a power outage.

While our team at Monalee does all of the heavy lifting (no pun intended), there are still many different components that go into getting a system up and running.

Here’s a short guide that walks you through everything that happens on installation day, from our install partners arriving at your home, to securing your panels on your roof.

Scheduling your installation

When it’s time to schedule your installation, we’ll work with our install crew leads who will offer you their earliest availability. Installs are usually completed in one working day, however in some cases–particularly if you decide to add a battery to your project–we might need to return the following day to complete your project.  

Our homeowners lead busy lives, so we make sure to send several reminders leading up to their installation day. We also let them know that a person over the age of 18 must be present for the duration of the installation if interior access is needed to your home. If your install is all exterior, you are free to continue your day’s normal activities while we complete your installation.

If something comes up and you need to reschedule, we ask that you give us 48 hours notice. This way, we can communicate this to our install crews schedules,  secure you a new install date, and offer another customer the ability to complete their install on your originally scheduled day. 

What happens before installation begins 

The most important thing that happens ahead of your installation is that the equipment will be delivered to your home. This usually happens one or more working days ahead of time. For example, if your installation is scheduled for a Monday, materials will usually be dropped off the Friday before. 

Make sure that someone 18 years or older is there to receive the delivery. We also recommend that you keep your phone near you, as sometimes drivers will call you for directions to your house. 

Day of installation: What to expect

The big day is finally here! Our installation crews typically arrive within a scheduled arrival window  to begin working on your install. More often than not, they’ll arrive at your home around 8am in the morning and finish working around 5pm. Day-long installations take roughly eight hours. 

Similar to your in-person site survey, if you opted for one, our install crews will need access to your home’s electrical panels, attic space, and any crawl spaces you may have. As we noted here, depending on the complexity of the roof structure, they may also need to enter other rooms in the home. We also encourage homeowners to have their gates unlocked and their pets secured, as occasionally the crew will need access to their home’s backyard. This is to ensure the safety of the solar installation. 

If you’ve opted to add a battery to your Monalee project or if your project is on the complex side–for example, if parts of your roof are steeper than others, that can take longer to secure– the hardware installation in some of these situations can take two or more days depending on the complexity. 

Process for installing solar equipment

On the day of installation, skilled solar crew members will arrive at your home. There will be one or more specialists in charge of installing the hardware on your roof, as well as qualified electrical personnel to handle wiring and inverter installation, in some cases these may be the same skilled specialists who are working on your roof.

Before getting started, the crew will make sure to maintain a safe area around your home, this may include taping off common traffic areas and requesting the movement of vehicles in or around your driveway. Installing Solar is in fact a construction project so it is important to be aware of and not enter any areas being worked in for your safety and the safety of the crew.

There are three main pieces of equipment that will be installed: the solar panel modules, a solar inverter, and a back-up battery if applicable. In some cases you will have “micro-inverters” which are installed at each panel on the roof in place of a central inverter on your home.

Before installing your solar panel modules, the technicians set up what is called a racking system. This system consists of roof attachments that fasten to the surface of your roof, mounting rails where the panels will then be mounted on, and clamps that attach to the mounting rails.

Installation complete: What happens next

A common misconception among homeowners who go solar is that their systems will be fully functional as soon as installation is complete. We wish that were the case, too, but there are a few things that need to happen first. 

As we outline here, you’ll need to pass an inspection from your local jurisdiction and receive permission to operate (PTO) from your utility company. Before PTO, you won’t be allowed to turn on your system. 

Local inspections are scheduled within 7-14 business days of your installation being completed in most cases. In our case, we also ask that the remaining balance for your Monalee project be paid at the completion of your installation. While most areas do require a local inspection, some don’t, so this will really depend on where your home is located. 

On the day of the local inspection, if required by your local jurisdiction, we will schedule a technician to come by and meet the inspector, any outstanding work such as conduit paint or in some cases stucco work may be completed during this visit. Other examples of work that may take place during this visit include but may not be limited to: Installing breakers, filling a trench, applying system stickers, and commissioning of your system to make sure it is PTO ready.

After your PTO is approved, we work with you to turn on your system. We provide written, step-by-step walkthroughs of how to activate the system as well as apps to download to better manage your energy production. 

Our promise:

As part of our Monalee promise, we offer warranties on parts (equipment), labor (workmanship), and performance. For context, most solar companies only offer guarantees on parts and labor. You can learn more about this here

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