Solar Panel Installation Process: What to Expect From Start to Finish

Solar Panel Installation Process

The sun is a powerful source of energy, and harnessing its potential through solar panels is a popular way to reduce energy costs and environmental impact. If you’re considering solar for your home or business, understanding the installation process is key. This guide will walk you through each step, ensuring you’re well-informed to make the best decision for your needs.

What are Solar Panels and Why Should I Consider Them?

Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, are devices that convert sunlight into electricity. They’re made of multiple solar cells, which generate an electric current when exposed to sunlight. This electricity can then power your home, reduce your reliance on the grid, and even earn you credits if you feed excess energy back into the system.

Why go solar?

  • Environmental benefits: Solar energy is a clean, renewable resource that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Financial savings: Solar panels can significantly lower or even eliminate your electricity bills, offering a long-term return on investment.
  • Increased property value: Homes with solar panels often have higher resale values due to their energy efficiency.
  • Energy independence: Solar systems provide a degree of energy security, reducing your vulnerability to power outages and price fluctuations.

The Solar Panel Installation Process: A Detailed Breakdown

1. Site Assessment and Energy Needs Analysis:

A crucial first step, this stage involves a thorough evaluation of your property and energy consumption patterns.

  • Property Assessment: A solar expert will visit your home or business to assess its solar potential. They’ll examine your roof’s type, angle, orientation, and shading. Ground-mounted systems will also be considered if your roof isn’t suitable. The goal is to identify the optimal placement for maximum sunlight exposure throughout the year.
  • Energy Consumption Analysis: This involves reviewing your electricity bills to understand your average daily and annual energy usage. This data helps determine the size of the solar system you need to generate enough electricity to meet your demands and potentially offset your entire energy bill.
  • Shading Analysis: Trees, neighbouring buildings, or other obstructions can cast shadows on your roof, reducing solar panel efficiency. A shading analysis will identify any potential shading issues and help determine the best panel placement to minimise their impact.

2. System Design and Permitting:

Once your site assessment is complete, it’s time to design a solar system tailored to your specific needs and secure the necessary permits.

System Design

  • Panel Selection: Based on your energy needs and roof space, the solar installer will recommend suitable solar panels. They’ll consider factors like panel efficiency (how well they convert sunlight into electricity), wattage (power output), size, and aesthetics. Different panel types (monocrystalline, polycrystalline, thin-film) may be considered, each with varying characteristics.
  • Inverter Selection: The solar inverter converts the direct current (DC) electricity produced by your solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity, which is what your home uses. The installer will select an inverter with the appropriate capacity and features for your system size and needs. There are various types of inverters, including string inverters, microinverters, and power optimisers, each with distinct advantages.
  • Mounting System: The mounting system securely attaches your solar panels to your roof or ground. The installer will choose a system that’s compatible with your roof type and panel size, ensuring durability and stability.

Solar panels are a long-term investment,” advises Luke Spicer, Certified Solar Installer at Skyline Solar. “Factor in the potential for future expansion, like adding more panels as your energy needs increase. Choose a system with enough capacity to meet your present and future needs, and ensure you understand the warranty terms and conditions for both the panels and the installation.

Permitting and Approvals

  • Electrical Permit: In most areas, you’ll need to obtain an electrical permit before installing solar panels. This ensures the installation complies with electrical safety codes and regulations.
  • Building Permit: Depending on your local council requirements and the complexity of your installation, a building permit may also be necessary.
  • Grid Connection Approval: If you plan to connect your solar system to the grid, you’ll need approval from your electricity distributor. This ensures your system meets their technical requirements and safety standards.

3. Panel Mounting and Electrical Connections:

With permits in hand and your system design finalised, the physical installation of your solar panels begins.

Panel Mounting

  • Roof-Mounted Systems: If your roof is suitable, solar panels will typically be mounted there. The installer will use sturdy mounting brackets and hardware designed for your specific roof type (e.g., tiles, metal, or shingles). The goal is to create a secure and watertight installation that can withstand wind and weather conditions. Panels are often angled to optimise sunlight capture throughout the day. The optimal solar cell panel installation angle can improve efficiency by optimising sunlight incident angle, with computer simulations and hardware experimental results showing close agreement [1].
  • Ground-Mounted Systems: If your roof isn’t ideal or you have ample ground space, panels can be mounted on ground-based structures. These structures are typically made of metal or other durable materials and are anchored securely to the ground. Ground-mounted systems offer flexibility in panel placement and angling for optimal sun exposure.
  • Other Mounting Options: In some cases, solar panels can be mounted on carports, pergolas, or other structures. The installer will assess the feasibility of these options and recommend the best approach based on your needs and preferences.

Electrical Connections

  • Panel Wiring: Each solar panel is wired together in series or parallel configurations, depending on the system design. This creates a circuit that carries the DC electricity generated by the panels.
  • Inverter Connection: The DC electricity from the panels is sent to the inverter, which converts it into usable AC electricity for your home. The inverter is typically mounted on a wall or in a protected location.
  • Electrical Panel Connection: The AC electricity from the inverter is then routed to your main electrical panel, where it’s distributed throughout your home. This connection allows you to use the solar-generated electricity to power your appliances and devices.
  • Grounding: The entire solar system is properly grounded to protect against electrical faults and ensure safety.

4. System Testing and Commissioning:

Before your solar system is fully operational, it undergoes rigorous testing to ensure safety and performance.

System Testing

  • Electrical Inspection: A licensed electrician will thoroughly inspect all wiring, connections, and grounding to ensure they meet electrical code requirements and safety standards.
  • Panel Performance Testing: Each solar panel is individually tested to verify that it’s producing electricity as expected. This may involve using specialized equipment to measure voltage and current output.
  • Inverter Functionality Testing: The inverter is tested to ensure it’s properly converting DC electricity to AC and operating within safe parameters.
  • Safety Feature Testing: Any safety features built into the system, such as rapid shutdown devices or ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), are tested to confirm their functionality.


  • Grid Connection: Once all tests are passed, the solar installer will coordinate with your electricity distributor to connect your system to the grid. This involves installing a new meter and ensuring the system meets grid connection requirements.
  • System Activation: The installer will activate your solar system, allowing it to start generating electricity.
  • Monitoring Setup: If your system includes monitoring capabilities, the installer will set up the monitoring platform so you can track your solar production and energy usage in real-time.

5. Ongoing Monitoring and Maintenance:

After your solar system is up and running, proper maintenance ensures it continues to operate efficiently for years to come.


  • Performance Tracking: Most modern solar systems come with monitoring software that allows you to track your system’s daily, weekly, and monthly energy production. This helps you identify any drops in performance, potential issues, or shading problems.
  • Energy Usage Insights: Monitoring also gives you insights into your energy consumption patterns, allowing you to optimise your usage and maximise your solar savings.


  • Cleaning: Solar panels are generally low-maintenance, but it’s recommended to clean them periodically (every 6-12 months) to remove dust, dirt, pollen, or bird droppings that can reduce their efficiency.
  • Visual Inspections: Regular visual inspections can help you identify any damage to panels, wiring, or other components.
  • Professional Maintenance: While basic maintenance can often be done by homeowners, it’s recommended to have a professional solar technician perform a thorough inspection and maintenance check every few years to ensure your system is operating at peak performance.

Solar panel installation is a journey that requires careful planning, thorough research, and a reliable partner like the friendly team at Skyline Solar. By understanding the process, considering your individual needs, and choosing a qualified installer, you can harness the power of the sun to create a more sustainable and cost-effective future.

[1] Chen, Y., & Wu, H. (2001). Determination of the solar cell panel installation angle. 4th IEEE International Conference on Power Electronics and Drive Systems. IEEE PEDS 2001 – Indonesia. Proceedings (Cat. No.01TH8594), 2, 549-554 vol.2.

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