If you are planning to build your own solar panels, you will need to pull several building permits and possible have a professional engineer come in to approve of the project. The professional engineer will look at the roof structure and inspect its weight and load. There are grid-intertie policies in place with your utility so check in with them. Most allow you to tie into the grid, some don't, and some make you take out a one million dollar insurance policy.
Check with your local solar installers. Some will be willing to help you out for free. Most solar installers have people in place that specialize in pulling building permits and electricians.
A big decision when you are installing the system is what type of inverter you purchase. A micro-inverter system allows you to scale up slowly because they are attached individually to each new solar panel. Buying too large of an inverter and having a small number of solar panels means that your panels will not be operating to optimum efficiency. Depending on where you live, each step may require inspection.
Cash and IRS tax rebates may be retiring next year, so get into the action as soon as possible. There are many incentives in place at both the state and federal level to help you subsidize your solar system. Some states are much more incented than others to offer rebates. Some states on the other hand, are in default and are flat broke. Also put in some research on whether your utility offers a generous net metering program. Some utilities sell electricity to you at retail prices and buy from you at wholesale prices. Rebates in some areas are being cu back in order to spread the dollars across more installations. The federal tax credit is slate to run until 2016 so no point worrying about that for now.
Often the most difficult part is identifying the underlying structure of the roof in the installation process and attached the mounting rack.
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