Solar Panels, Solar Energy for your Home

Using solar energy is an option you can consider for your residential property. (Source: Solar Ready Winston-Salem)

house using solar panelsBy using solar energy and energy-efficient technologies in your home and business, you will:

  • Help the environment.
  • Reduce your consumption of fossil fuels.
  • Lower your monthly bills.
  • Save money in the long term.

Is my home or commercial property right for a solar energy system?

A photovoltaic (PV) system needs unobstructed access to the sun for most or all of the day throughout the year. PV panels are relatively unaffected by changing weather and the modules are angled to catch the sun, not snow, so any snow that does collect melts quickly. Here are some important tips that will help you determine if your property is right for PV:

  • PV systems are best installed on a southern exposed roof, however some east or west exposures may also be acceptable.
  • PV systems are ideally mounted parallel with the roof at a 15 to 45 degree roof pitch depending on site orientation with no shading between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Shading can include trees, chimneys, TV antennas, satellite dishes, dormers and gables.
  • A PV system can be installed on any well-structured roof. If your roof is older and needs to be replaced in the near future, you may want to replace it at the same time your PV system is installed.
  • The amount of roof space needed for a PV system is based on the output and type of system. Your roof size and orientation will determine how much PV you can install on your roof.

Getting Started

If you want to purchase a PV system, you are probably going to need a PV installer. You can check your local phone directory under Solar Energy Equipment or view a pre-screened contractors list at It is always advisable to obtain several bids before making a selection.

Before you purchase a PV System:

  • Shop around to compare prices before choosing a PV contractor. Compare system features, warranties and expected annual electrical output.
  • Get two to three estimates from different contractors to compare pricing and PV systems.
  • Ask each PV contractor for customer references. You can also check each contractor with your local Office of Consumer Affairs.
  • Be sure your PV contractor provides you with a written contract that includes equipment pricing, installation costs, model numbers and warranty information. Make sure you know when to expect delivery and installation of your PV system.
  • Understand your PV warranty and that you know who is responsible for honoring the warranty (the installer, dealer, builder or manufacturer).
  • Verify that the PV system you receive matches the equipment listed on your contract.
  • The PV contractor will assist you in obtaining all building permits and inspections. Your PV system must be inspected and approved by a licensed electrical inspector and utility before it can operate.
  • If you live in a homeowners’ association, verify that you have all required approvals from the Architectural Review Committee as applicable. Your contractor can help you with this process.
  • Ask your PV contractor to review maintenance and operation of your new system. Be sure the contractor reviews your PV manual with you prior to completion of the installation.
  • Still have questions?

house using solar panels

The city's Inspections department is here to help with all solar project electrical permits. If you have any questions please contact us at  (336) 727-2624.

About solar energy

Why use Solar Energy?

  • Investing in solar energy or “PV” (Photovoltaic) technology makes good sense, whether you are a residential or business customer, school or municipality.
  • PV can help lower your monthly bills, reduce your energy consumption AND it’s good for the environment.
  • PV preserves the earth’s finite fossil-fuel resources —coal, oil, natural gas — and reduces air and noise pollution associated with those energy sources.
  • Recent technological breakthroughs have drastically reduced the cost of PV ownership and a typical PV system may last 40 years with minimal maintenance.
  • Valuable rebates combined with state and federal tax incentives make PV more affordable than ever before.
  • A highly energy-efficient home or business means you can install less PV.

Solar Resources

Below are a number of different solar resources on the web.

2014 National Electrical Code (NEC) reference Article 690

American Solar Energy Society

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Solar Energy Power Association

Solar Living Institute

U.S. Department of Energy

Glossary of terms

AHJ: Acronym that stands for Authority Having Jurisdiction. AHJ is often used to describe the designated department or agency that enforces certain laws or regulations. It is often used interchangeably with the term Enforcing Agency.

BIPV: Acronym that stands for Building Integrated Photovoltaic, which is a form of photovoltaic solar energy technology that is integrated into the building envelope to become a part of the roof, skylight or façade.

Contractor: A contractor licensed by the state of North Carolina performing work within the scope of their license.

Dead load: The weight of materials of construction incorporated into the building, including but not limited to walls, floors, roofs, ceilings, stairways, built-in partitions, finishes, cladding and other similarly incorporated architectural and structural items, and the weight of fixed-service equipment, such as cranes, plumbing stacks and risers, electrical feeders, heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems and automatic sprinkler systems.

Enforcement: A diligent effort to secure compliance, including review of plans and permit applications, response to complaints, citation of violations and other legal processes. Except as otherwise provided in this part, “enforcement” may, but need not, include inspections of existing buildings on which no complaint or permit application has been filed, and effort to secure compliance as to these existing buildings.

Enforcing agency: The designated department or agency that enforces certain laws or regulations, as specified by statute or regulation. In regard to solar PV installations, this entity can also be referred to as the “permitting agency,” since it is often the entity that issues a permit to allow for solar installations to be constructed.

Comprehensive plan: A document adopted by a city or county to create a long-term vision to guide the jurisdiction’s future growth and land use. It includes a statement of development policies and implementing actions to achieve its development objectives.

Live load: Loads produced by the use and occupancy of the building or other structure and not including construction or environmental loads such as wind load, snow load, rain load, earthquake load, flood load or dead load.

Photovoltaic: A method of generating electrical power by converting solar radiation (sunlight), generating electrical power into direct current electricity using semiconductors.

Qualified person: One who has the required state license and has proper skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of the electrical equipment and installations and has received safety training to recognize and avoid the hazards involved.

Solar photovoltaic system: The total components and subsystems that, in combination, convert solar energy into electric energy suitable for connection to utilization load.

house using solar panels

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