Residential Solar Timeline

Residential Solar Timeline: From Purchase to Installation

Residential Solar Timeline


We all know that solar panels are a great way of lowering your utility bills, and supporting the environment… but how long does it take to actually get a solar power system? Here’s your expected timeline of the process.


Day 1: Signing The Paperwork

Everything gets started on the day you sign the paperwork and give the team the go ahead. This meeting won’t be the first time, it will happen after several meetings – if you’re buying, you’ve already gone through the process of getting estimates and such.

In most cases, the paperwork can be quickly and easily completed, but in some rare cases, it may take more than a day to get all of the paperwork signed. If you’re waiting on a loan approval from a bank, for example, you might need to delay until that’s been settled.


Week 1 – 2: Gathering Site-Specific Data

Every house is unique, and many are subtly altered over time as owners and contractors make a variety of changes and improvements. It could take up to 2 weeks for the engineers to fully survey the house and gather all of the specific information they need.

The gathered data isn’t limited to the house itself – the engineers will also be looking at your utility connections and generally making sure that the house is ready to have a solar system installed. This is rarely a problem for newer homes, but old houses may actually have faulty wiring or other issues.

There is a small chance that an electrician may need to do some work before the solar installation can proceed – if so, you may experience delays until the electrician is available. Most electricians can complete a job on a residential home in several hours (at most).

Week 3: Creating The Design

Over the next week, your installation team will work on creating a complete design for the upgrade of your home. This will detail all the relevant components of the job – where individual parts and pieces will go, how the wires will be connected, where additional systems (like in-home batteries) will be placed, and so on.

This may take longer for particularly large or complex solar arrays, but most homeowners can expect to get the plan within 3 weeks or sooner.

Week 4: Owner Approval

The installation cannot proceed until the homeowner signs off on the final plan. This usually takes about a day, though some homeowners may need time to negotiate with a lending institution or simply want to sleep on it to be sure they approve of the designated panel location.

In other words, this process is as fast as you want it to be – but for the purposes of our timeline, we’re assuming the standard duration of one day.

Week 4-5: Permit Submission

Once all documents have been signed and returned, the permit request will be submitted to the appropriate department. It can take up to a week for the permit to be delivered, as your installation company may need to provide other information as well, and that data could take a few days to acquire.

Week ???: Permit Approval

This is where things get a bit tricky – and unfortunately, we can’t give you a perfect estimate on this. The length of time it takes to get a permit approved varies by region – some places can get them done in minutes, while others may take several weeks to stamp a seal on it, and that’s assuming there’s no reason to deny the permit.

The only thing to do here is wait, although you can ask for an estimate of approval times in your area to get a better idea of how long it will take, a step we encourage you to do on Day 1.

Week 5-6: Scheduling The Installation

Once the permit is approved, the actual installation will be scheduled. This typically occurs sometime over the next two weeks, and on average it can be one week until things get started. Many different variables go into this, but once you have a date, it’s usually pretty solid. If schedules need to be changed, you’ll be notified as soon as possible.

Week 6: Installation

Actually installing the solar panels – finally – generally takes one or two days. As before, particularly large or complex systems may need more time, and you’ll be told what to expect before the workers get started.

Week 7-8: Inspection

Most jurisdictions require an inspection from the city and/or the utilities department once the installation is finished, just to make sure everything was completed properly. This will usually happen in a week or two – once it has, the utility company will change the meter and the process will finally be done.

Final Steps

While about 2 months is normal for a solar panel installation process, there are many things that can influence it. For example, if permits can be submitted right away, followed by quick approval and an installation time just two or three days later – the overall installation time could be cut in half.

On the other hand, some things may take longer – especially the permit approval process, which could easily double the length of this timeline. The bottom line is that there’s no exact guarantee on the timeline.

Here at 1st Light Energy, we will do everything we can to get your solar system is installed in the shortest timeframe.


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2 replies
  1. Kelvin Maleck
    Kelvin Maleck says:

    “The bottom line is that there’s no exact guarantee on the timeline”

    I wish i knew that when they knocked my door on 8/11/2015, 9 months has pass and I am still waiting for the permit or (PTO) im very angry about this.

    • sush
      sush says:

      Same story here. No one in 1st light is giving an accurate answer where this bloody PTO come from. If things are stuck in the township perhaps we can get them moving forward. VERY VERY DISAPPOINTED in this company.
      Wouldn’t recommend to anyone


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