If you’re considering installing solar panels in your California home, one of the biggest questions is whether you need a permit to install. The short answer is yes.
But the good news is that it’s relatively simple and straightforward to do, especially when you work with a licensed Solar Panel Installer.
It is essential to speak with an experienced professional, as installing photovoltaic panels without applying for the proper permissions can have serious consequences. In some instances, there can be fines, or you may be required to remove the panels.
Permit requirements for Solar Panel installation in California
A great resource to review is the California Solar Permitting Guidebook, produced by the Center for Sustainable Energy.
Since 2015, the requirement for installing solar panels has been somewhat expedited for homeowners.
The Assembly Bill 2188 (Muratsuchi, 2014) requires local governments to adopt an administrative ordinance that creates a streamlined permitting process for small rooftop solar system installations on or before September 30, 2015. It also limits the number of inspections that may be required.
To comply, you must ensure that your solar panel system meets the following criteria.
1. Are no larger than 10 kilowatts alternating current nameplate rating or 30 kilowatts thermal
2. Conform to all applicable state fire, structural, electrical and other building codes as adopted or amended by the city, county or city and county and paragraph (3) of subdivision (c) of Section 714 of the Civil Code
3. Are installed on a single-family or duplex family dwelling
4. Do not exceed the maximum legal building height as defined by the authority having jurisdiction
Most solar panel installers will know about and abide by these conditions, which will ensure the process for application is relatively straightforward. They will guide you through each step and explain what is possible for your home.