Whereas solar systems can usually be installed in a matter of days, getting the final product inspected and approved can take weeks of work.
That may sound absurd. But generating electricity to power your home is a serious business.
If everything isn’t done just right, both you and your neighbors can wind up suffering some pretty nasty consequences.
Inspection is more than just a legal formality. It’s a necessary part of ensuring the safety of everyone concerned.
Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you have to sweat it. Though the process is involved, we’ve got
dedicated specialists ready to do all the navigating for you.
Exactly what we'll be doing, however, will vary depending on your particular AHJ.
What is an AHJ?
AHJ stands for "Authority Having Jurisdiction." The concept plays an important regulatory role in the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) safety codes and standards.
NFPA defines an AHJ as:
An organization, office, or individual responsible for enforcing the requirements of a code or standard, or for approving equipment, materials, an installation, or a procedure.
In practice, what counts as an AHJ will vary depending on what sort of thing needs to be approved.
When it comes to getting your solar installation inspected, however, the relevant AHJ will be the local government department responsible for inspecting and issuing permits when a property in your town or county is modified.
Inspection requirements vary
It’s a safe bet that your AHJ will require your solar system to be in compliance with the NFPA’s National Electrical Code.
Different localities, however, add their own wrinkles and spin. And, like any bureaucratic process, any failure to follow the exact procedure laid out by your AHJ can wind up costing you a lot in both time and money.
That's one reason it's a good idea to find a local solar installer who has experience working with the towns and counties in your area. That way, they'll be able to help you navigate the process your particular AHJ has implemented correctly and efficiently. So you won't experience any costly hiccups along the way.
One part of your AHJ's inspection process will be making sure you had all the required permits. So, before installation even begins, we'll need to petition your AJH for any they deem necessary.
Generally, three types are required: an electrical permit, a building permit, and a dedicated solar photovoltaic (PV) permit.
Just getting the right permits can be time-consuming. Applications frequently run 10 to 15 pages and require a host of supporting documents, including:
· Equipment specifications
· Fire safety ratings
· Wiring diagrams
· Engineering certifications for panels and mounting hardware
· PV labels and placard placement map
· Site plan
Depending on how busy your AJH is, it can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to receive all the necessary permits. Once we've got them, we can start installing your solar panels.
Most projects are completed within a few days.
Your AHJ will then require a physical inspection to ensure that the finished product meets its safety codes, zoning laws, and all relevant electrical, building, and fire codes.
If we're installing a rooftop system, your AHJ will probably want to make sure that your roof can handle the extra weight as well. To avoid both safety and inspection problems, we'll examine your roof before installation begins to make sure it's up to snuff.
Your AHJ may also have its own particular rules governing the placement of solar panels meant to ensure sufficient roof access in case of a fire. If so, we'll take them into account when in the design phase.
Passed inspection vs. permission to operate.
Once you've passed inspection, there's still another hurdle before your system can be turned on.
To get Permission to Operate (PTO), an interconnection application has to be submitted to and approved by your local utility company. You can learn more about interconnection and why it's important here.
Once you've got Permission to Operate, you can start enjoying the benefits of generating your own cost-free and renewable solar power.
But, no need to sweat the interconnection process. Just like inspection, we'll be doing all the heavy lifting for you.