Before purchasing a solar electric system, homeowners need to be aware of issues that affect system installation and maintenance.
Warranties and Insurance
Most solar electric systems come with a 25-year output warranty, but maintenance may be required to comply with a manufacturer’s warranty. Inverter warranties are usually 10 years, and you can reasonably expect to have to replace the inverter during the life of the system. Since these warranties don’t cover workmanship/installation, you may wish to consider a yearly maintenance contract if available. Most homeowner insurance policies will cover the systems, but check with your insurance agent to be sure. Also, be sure to ask your insurance agent if you need to be aware of any installation issues that could affect coverage for the roof, such as roof penetrations during system installation.
Zoning and Permits (includes Homeowners Association (HOA) Fees)
Local zoning laws may restrict where you can place solar panels on your home. Check with your city and county to find out about any restrictions. In South Carolina, HOAs are allowed to restrict the placement of solar panels. If you are part of a community governed by a HOA, check before signing a contract. Homeowners will need to obtain any building or other local permits required before installation. Typically, your installer will assist you in obtaining permits and clearance from the city.
Utility Permits and Special Requirements
It is very important that you contact your electric utility provider early in the process to confirm you have all of the necessary permits, documentation and any special requirements to support the interconnection agreement for your system prior to installation.
A typical checklist will include the following:
- Net Energy Metering Application
- Net Energy Metering Interconnection Agreement
- One-line Diagram of the System
- Certificate of Insurance
- Application Fee
- City/County Inspection
- Utility Onsite Inspection
Proper maintenance of your system will keep it running smoothly. Most vendors recommend a yearly maintenance check by your installer, but you should carefully review the maintenance instructions shown in the system manual with your system provider. Systems with electronic components usually require replacement parts after 10 years.
Related Links and Files
Required Licenses for Solar Installation in South Carolina