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Your Solar Installation

Getting Started

Once you decide that you want solar as a part of your future, there are a ton of ways to approach it. With Self Solar, you embark on a self-made process where you take all the decisions into your hands—whether you pursue the DIY project yourself, reach out for assistance at certain steps, or organize experts to install your system from the ground up.

While that might sound imposing, you have all the resources and information at your fingertips. Here, we’ll be breaking down your installation step-by-step.

Step 1: Buy Your Kit

After a Solar Assessment, you’ll have everything you need to choose whether you buy an Economic, Standard, or Premium solar kit from us. After you order your kit, we will send you a form to gather the information and pictures needed for engineering to perform the electrical and structural review. This review is the foundation for your permit set. Each of our solar kits will provide you the list of hardware, blueprints, and permit set to help you start installing right away.

Step 2: Apply for and Submit Your Permit

Next, you’ll go through the permit process. Your municipality might require a building permit, an electrical permit, or both, as well as a permit for connecting your solar panels to the grid. Contact your municipality for the most up-to-date application process.

We provide the permit set, so you can complete the application and then relax and get ready to rock on your solar adventure! If your municipality requests any changes to the permit set, remember that six months of unlimited revisions to structural and electrical engineering are included in every kit to make sure you get the most out of Self Solar!

Step 3: Investigate Your Net Meter Application Options

When you apply for those permits, it’s a great time to check with your utility about which billing agreement (net metering, feed in tariff, or net billing) is available in your area. 

Each utility company has different policies, so it’s important to talk with them before going solar to understand how the whole process works. 

This is usually one of the most exciting parts for our customers! It feels empowering and liberating to finally work with Self Solar and be in charge of your own electricity production.

Step 4: Choose Your Install Method

There are three main ways to approach your installation when you invest in your Self Solar DIY kit:

a. Third Party Install (Self Solar Manager)

Don’t want to deal with any of the install? Understandable! We got you! Let Self Solar provide you with a list of the best installers in your area that are certified for your specific solar equipment. Take the guesswork out of your solar journey. Your peace of mind is our priority.

We’ll also provide a price range that your install should fall in so you will never be taken advantage of. Your target installation cost should typically be between $.50 to $.70 per watt depending on your location.  Make sure the installer knows the balance of system components will be included in your Self Solar kit and should not be included in the installation quote.

Never deal with traditional solar companies again that are known for outrageous commissions and fancy processes. This is the most convenient method for installation and the best part is you will still save money! We make solar energy easily accessible to everyone. We call this the Self Solar Manager option.

With Self Solar, you can be in charge and take care of certain parts of the project on your own and save even more money. We’re always looking out for your best interest!  As your partner, we take care of the complicated parts of the solar journey for you. 

NOTE: Once you purchase your solar kit, we will provide you with a list of installers in your area. Use the database to find a local installer that is best at installing your specific equipment.

b. Part DIY (Self Solar Master)

Depending on various backgrounds and skills, some people may be comfortable with certain aspects of a solar install, but not the others. For example, you or someone you know might be comfortable with the roof portion of a solar install but not the electrical tie-in. We understand that you’d like to save money but also make sure everything is done safely and correctly. This is where having the right partner like us comes in.

Self Solar strives to empower you to do as much as you are comfortable with – and then provide the resources to find local electricians and other companies to fill in the gaps. The beauty of this option is the more you do, the more you save. This is the Self Solar Master option.

c. Full DIY (Self Solar Pro)

If you decide to go full “do it yourself,” we’re still here for all the support you need– calculators, virtual site visit, Self Solar Kit, permit set, resource library, community forum, installer database, and more. 

Feeling up for the challenge or willing to level up for it through our educational resources? We’ve got your back! We will provide installation instructions, videos, and more for each component of your DIY install.

As in other home projects, DIY usually saves you the most money. In most cases, you will be able to go solar at a significantly lower cost than with a full professional installation.

The next steps are specifically for those who choose the Self Solar Pro installation method to help guide through a DIY installation. While the other installation methods involve third-party assistance, it may still be valuable information to understand the process if you’re a Self Solar Manager or Master.

Step 5: Prepare Your Roof Layout

You’ll first need to prepare your roof layout by marking the correct position of your solar system on your rooftop. We have used satellite imagery and sophisticated software to design your system and provide you with an accurate layout. Your kit will include the proposed design but double-checking it all fits is crucial to a successful install. 

Take measurements using chalk to outline where your solar system will be installed. The equipment specifications in your permit set will show dimensions.  The roof plan will show the orientation and position of each panel and array. Keep in mind fire setbacks as well as where the edge of the array is compared to your roof gables if your municipality requires. This is all to make sure your solar system matches your roof layout and that you have no issues with your post installation inspection. Your chalk line layouts are also useful to make sure the rails are placed parallel to the eave or ridge of the roof.

Once you lay out the outlines of your system on your roof, you’re ready to install your mounting hardware.

Step 6: Understand Your Mounting Hardware

Your Self Solar kit includes all of the hardware and installation manuals needed to mount your system. You’ll need to first install the necessary brackets and rails on the roof. If you’re going full or partial DIY, you may need an extra set of hands, depending on your roof configuration. 

As you might remember, you can roof mount or ground mount your solar array.

For roof mounting, locate and mark roof rafters, then install roof attachments to secure your rails in place. Find the first rafter to be your starting reference point. From there, you can drill holes and screw down your L-Foot mounts row by row. Keep in mind spacing guidelines as directed in your kit. The rail should go right to the edge of the outside of the panels. The easiest way to lay rail is to line one side up with the outside of your array with the extra rail off the opposite side. Attach the rail to the L-Feet with attachments provided in your kit.

For ground mounting, layout your posts or foundation and install racking similarly to laying rail on your rooftop. This may involve some trenching, so refer to your permit set and installation manual to see what is needed.  

We’re excited to help you go solar! Take that first step today with Self Solar, and you’ll be all set in no time!

Step 7: Wire Up Your System

To make your install easier, you’ll want to assess your mountings and rooftop layout before moving onto the wiring phase. Depending on your situation, your kit will come with string inverters and optimizers or micro inverters you’ll need to install.  Placing them central to all the panels connected to it will help decrease the amount of wiring you’ll need overall.

From there, organize your wiring components. A junction box acts as a waterproof location where your rooftop wiring can run inside your attic. The electrical line diagram (also referred to as a single line diagram) in your permit set will indicate the size of any wires and conduit you will need for your installation.  These parts are all included in your Self Solar kit.

Manage your wiring with the help of clips, zip ties, and labels so that you’re never confused during the installation or afterwards for any maintenance. 

Step 8: Install Your Solar Panels

You are almost done with the roof! Before attaching your solar panels, clip the wires on each panel’s back into the micro inverters or optimizers. Install your panels by sliding an end-clamp into each rail, place the module on the rails, and clip into the end clamps. Torque the bolts to spec but be careful not to overtighten.

Once you place the first module, insert mid-clamps onto each rail and loosely tighten. Grab another panel, slide it flush against the mid-clamps adjacent to the last module you installed, and tighten the mid-clamp that connects the two panels in place. Once finished, use one last end-clamp to secure the final module.

Make sure to level your panels as you go to ensure a straight array. You can do this with tools or just by looking at your array from a distance, noting the location, and adjusting the height of the L-Feet at the proper place.

Step 9: Connect Your System to Your Meter

In order to be compliant with NEC (National Electric Code) and local AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) codes, all systems need some type of AC Disconnect. Many systems require a combiner panel to allow all of your solar branch circuits to combine into a single set of conductors as you connect to your home and to your utility meter. These parts will be outlined in your plan set and included in your solar kit.

There will be wire that’s meant to run through the attic of your roof (or a conduit on a flat roof) and you’ll use an exterior junction box or conduit for transitioning to the exterior wall of your home. You may also need a ground wire to run along the rail of your solar system. Make sure that no wires touch the roof—a surefire way to fail an inspection.

Some systems will require an electrical sub-panel. This will be noted in your Self Solar kit plans. Make sure to follow the plan’s requirements to ensure compliance for your coming inspection.

Step 10: Install the Tie In For Your Solar System

Your electrical tie in is how your solar system connects with your home’s electrical system. You’ll find your electrical tie in or interconnection in the electrical line diagram of your permit set. Reference your plans and these descriptions to see what type of interconnection has been engineered for your system. Below are descriptions of the most common types of interconnections:

  1. Breaker Tie In

This is usually the easiest option and requires you to install a breaker into your electrical panel. Place the breaker at the end of the busbar furthest from the main breaker. You can do a breaker tie in to the main panel or a sub panel.

  1. Sub Panel Insert

This option requires you add a new electrical sub-panel and connecting it to your main panel. This is usually necessary when you have no more room to add another breaker onto your main panel.

  1. Supply Side Tap

This method connects your system directly to the wires on the supply side of your electrical panel. You’ll need to clamp two Ilsco Kup-L-Taps to the wires that feed the meter. You should have a Fused AC Disconnect in your kit if this is your tie in option.

  1. Load Side Tap

The method works just like the Supply Side Tap except you wire your system after the main service breaker. You’ll need the same two Ilsco Kup-L-Taps and Fused AC Disconnect.

Step 11: Have Your System Inspected

You’ve gotten your solar system installed exactly the way you decided. Now you need to make sure it passes an official inspection. You’ll have to call the city/county/state to let you know your project is completed and schedule a time for an inspector to come out to your home.

They’ll look at your mountings, panels, and wiring as well as double-checking that your system has all the correct labels in the correct places. You should find a sheet of stickers in your solar kit with instructions on where to place them for appropriate labeling in your permit set.

If it passes, you can go on to the next step. If not, your inspector should have a report that details the corrections required.

Step 12: Apply for Permission to Operate

This is the last step before you energize your home! The utility company will need to come out and either reprogram your existing meter or install a new one for whatever net metering policy they have. This has to happen since the standard meter reads in only one direction—how much power your home pulls from the grid. But now you have solar! So you’ll need a meter that reads how much you give back to the grid as well.

Contact your utility company once inspections are passed so they can get you through this step.

Step 13: Turn Your System On!

It’s time to start producing clean energy! Make sure that all of the breakers in your combiner panel are flipped on, flip the handle up on your AC Disconnect to ‘On’, and then flip the breaker in the main panel/sub-panel.

And just like that you’re turning energy from the sun into electricity for your home. Your solar, your way.

Step 14: Set Up Lifetime Monitoring

Your kit comes with a solar system monitoring device that connects to the internet. From there, you can access it through your home network or with the device’s designated app. This will allow you to monitor how your system is performing at a moment’s notice.

Your Installation, Your Solar, Your Way

Congratulations! You’ve taken your solar future into your own hands and have made an investment that pays off in both savings, green energy, and value. 

For those reading, we hope that this list of steps shows you just how easy it is to install solar. You can do it yourself the whole way or get help at the parts where you need it most. The important part is that you know that it’s possible to install solar outside of the marketed methods. If you’re interested in a solar system installed your way, a Solar Assessment is all it takes to see just how much the Self Solar process could benefit you and your home. Order your Solar Assessment here.

Already know what you need? Ready to get started?
Order your Self Solar Kit today.