The 4 phases of a commercial solar panel installation

November 22, 2016



Commercial solar carport installation for businessWhen you’re first investigating the possibility of implementing a commercial solar installation, the future looks bright. It’s exciting to think about the energy cost savings and the environmental and social benefits this clean, renewable resource will bring to your organization. But that’s someday, not today.

At this point, having made a commitment to go solar, you’re probably asking “Now what?” Here’s a quick look at the answer.

Your solar panel installation process will vary in time and complexity, depending on the type you’re planning. For example, rooftop solar panels installed on commercial buildings take significantly less time than field or solar carport projects. Whichever type of solar power solution you choose, construction will follow the four basic steps outlined below.


Performing due diligence on a commercial solar system design1. Due Diligence

Every commercial solar installation project requires planning in advance to ensure a smooth construction process. This due diligence can include:

  • The physical evaluation of the proposed site—whether it’s a structural evaluation of a building or in-depth topographical and geological surveys of a proposed worksite
  • Legal review of title reports and other records to confirm your right to build
  • Determining where your new system will connect to into the power grid when completed


2. Engineering and Commercial Solar Panel Design

In the second phase, conceptual ideas and initial plans are formalized. Early Design Drawings show where the solar panels for your business will be placed and help lock down exactly what will happen once construction begins. You can expect to review Permit Drawings, which are used to obtain various building permits. Toward the end of this phase, you’ll also review Construction Drawings, which are the blueprints for all the commercial solar installation work to follow.


3. Construction and Solar Panel System Commissioning

Depending on the type of project, construction can take as little as 5 weeks for simple installations and up to 12 weeks or longer for more complex projects. Expect some periodic interruptions to your organization’s daily routine during construction. For example, you may need to find alternate parking options or accommodate temporary power shutdowns. These inconveniences can be minimized with a well thought-out project plan.

After construction comes commissioning—the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the final “okay” when the solar provider confirms that your new commercial solar installation was built according to plan and operates within acceptable parameters. Commissioning also means the utility grants you permission to operate.


Completion of the commercial solar installation process 4. Solar Panel Operation and Maintenance (O&M)

A properly maintained and serviced commercial solar installation can provide decades of clean, reliable energy—and it begins on the first day your new solar system comes online. This final phase launches the decisions outlined in your original contract that specify your organization’s level of involvement in O&M going forward. Your solar equipment provider will likely offer a wide range of assistance, from basic annual inspections and monthly performance reports to the gold standard of O&M: A performance guarantee.

For a more comprehensive look at each of these steps, please see the business brief: What to expect when you go solar.


Related links:

The key components of a commercial solar panel warranty

How to create a highly effective solar RFP

Everything you need to know about commercial solar battery storage in 1,000 words (and 3 pictures)

VIDEO: The 3 types of onsite commercial solar installations

Introduction to offsite commercial solar

The 3 types of onsite commercial solar installations
The 3 types of onsite commercial solar installations

This video overviews the three typical types of onsite commercial solar installations, and explains why you...

The 4 phases of implementing commercial solar
The 4 phases of implementing commercial solar

Wondering how to go solar? This infographic overviews the 4 phases of commercial solar implementation—from ...