What to expect when you're expecting solar, from survey to net meter

May 26, 2015

Congratulations, you have decided to go solar and are now waiting on your installation process to begin. You're probably thinking, "What happens now?" Because while the process for going solar is relatively simple, it isn't as instantaneous as driving a new car off the lot.


If you have chosen a good solar contractor, you will have a guiding hand along the way, making the journey a quick and painless one. It all starts with your solar account manager, who addresses all of the questions and concerns you might have along the way. However, other experienced solar project managers and installers will oversee the installation of your system. Below is a brief overview of the general steps you will follow in order to get your system up and running.


Site Survey


The site survey allows a technician to come inspect the dimensions and character of the installation site and electrical service in greater depth than your account manager's intial assessment. If you are installing a roof-mounted system, this will require the surveyor to climb onto the roof for a thorough evaluation. The site survey reveals all of the minutia necessary for our architects and structural engineers to properly design your system.




The design of your solar system provides the installation team with an official drawing of the module layout, along with any vents, shading, or other equipment to avoid. It also specifies the key attachments that allow your system to have a wind rating of 140 mph, verified by our certified structural engineer. By the way, make sure your solar installer has a structural engineer who can do so. For most systems, you can expect to receive your completed design for review 1-2 weeks after your site survey is completed.




The installation is scheduled once the design is complete and the Operations team coordinates a preferred time with you. The amount of time an installation will take depends on weather conditions and the system's design complexity. Small installations can take as little as a few days if the weather allows. Your Operations Manager will notify you of your team's progress and when your installation is complete.




Within a few weeks after your installation is completed, an inspection takes place to ensure that your system has been installed correctly per code requirements, and that it is ready to start producing electricity. You do not have to coordinate or be present for any part of the inspection, and we will update you of its status after it is complete. Most systems pass inspection easily, but if your system fails for any reason, we will perform any work needed to resolve the issue as soon as possible.


Net Meter


In most locations, the final step is to apply for a net meter from your utility. While we handle the application paperwork for you and turn it in promptly, your utility still has 90 days from your installation date to approve the request and install your net meter. Your solar system cannot be turned on until the meter is installed, but once this happens, you will see your meter start to spin backward as your solar system produces electricity. This moment is often what makes the process worth the wait.


However, not all locations have policies that support net metering. If this is the case, you will likely have installed a solar system that is sized so that you consume all of the energy you produce on-site. Your installer should know what the net metering policy is for your location before you decide to go solar, and it's a good idea to ask.


These steps can make installing solar seem like a long and involved process, but most of them are handled entirely by our team. Our goal is to make our process as easy as possible for you, our client, while preventing issues from arising early on. Nonetheless, expect us to communicate our progress with you at every step along the way, so you can have peace of mind throughout the entire process of going solar.


Post by Sam Fleming and Alex Snedeker
Artwork by Brian Fabry Dorsam

Interested in saving energy or have questions about our services? Click below or call us at 504-586-0625 to find out if solar or LED lighting is right for you.