How do inspections work if no plan set is submitted?
Please review the relevant trainings (listed below) prior to inspecting SolarAPP+ systems.
In partnership with the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), NREL has developed an interactive online training tool that will help you efficiently and effectively inspect a rooftop residential PV system without a traditional planset. You can access the training here.
Please note that if your project involves batteries or other energy storage systems, there is a separate training which can be found here. This training will help you use the inspection checklist from the SolarAPP+ tool to efficiently and effectively inspect a rooftop residential PV system with an energy storage system.
The most significant departure from traditional inspections is that inspectors do not verify information using a plan set or physical line diagram. SolarAPP+ collects all the same information that would be shown in a graphical plan, and inspecting a PV system is similar to regular building and electrical inspections. All the normal rules for main panels and common electrical practices apply.
Though SolarAPP+ does not have a typical plan set, we have released new diagrams to be associated with the checklist. More information on these diagrams can be accessed here: https://help.solar-app.org/article/278-solarapp-schematic-diagrams.
Once in the field, an inspector has to verify the same project details they typically would using the traditional reviewed process. However, they would conduct the inspection using the provided checklist and approval documents, which contain all of the necessary items required by building/electrical/fire codes, in place of a graphical plan set. The inspection checklist is created only after the system's calculations verify that the entire project is code compliant. The inspector's job is to ensure that the information displayed in the checklist matches the project specifications in the field.
Important Note: Download/Print the Most Current Checklist
Before you begin the inspection, confirm that you are using the most current version of the checklist. An installer could correct an installation mistake before the inspection and update the permit. Some items on the checklist as a result. If you forget to confirm the version before you start, and changes have been made, you could waste time referencing a checklist that is no longer current and doesn't reflect the approved installation.
Conducting the Inspection
Our checklist and is simple to use, and the list of items required for code compliance begins by having inspectors verify the ground-level components. As inspectors work through the checklist, inspectors would begin at the point of interconnection upward to the rooftop PV system itself. When examining the project itself, inspectors would check the box in the "pass" column once they have visually verified that the project's item on the checklist is accurate and without workmanship errors.
Photographs of the project components and siting area, if taken at a vantage point to capture all relevant information, might remove the need for inspectors to physically access the rooftop to conduct the inspection (e.g., a picture taken from adequate distance could allow inspectors to verify that the layout allows for fire access pathways and ridge setbacks). Please review the inspector's training (linked at the top of the page) to see in-depth information on the components of the inspection checklist and SolarAPP+'s calculations displayed in the long form.
Passing/Failing Projects Using the Long Form
It is important to be aware of a key difference in inspecting SolarAPP+ projects compared to traditionally-permitted systems. On a graphical plan sets, exact wire sizes and conduit sizes are specified. The SolarAPP+ checklist shows a MINIMUM. As long as at least the minimum has been installed AND the number of conductors matches the checklist, the system is compliant. Reference the Long Form tables in the approval document that contain the allowable ranges of project component values if the item appears to be a different size than what is references on the checklist.
If the component is found to be non-compliant, the inspector should circle the box in the checklist and write in a correction in the notes section under "corrections." Inform the installer so they know to verify that a correction has been made once fixed. If all aspects of the checklist are verified, follow the department's normal process for project approval. If the jurisdiction chooses to keep track of the inspection results, log in to SolarAPP+ and move the project status to "Final."
The below lists the following tie-in methods available to contractors in SolarAPP+ (you should ONLY see these options in the field):
- 705.12 (A) Supply Side
- 705.12 (B) (2) (1) (a) Load Side Tap with Large Feeder Size
- 705.12 (B) (2) (1) (b) Load Side Tap with Breaker Sandwich
- 705.12 (B) (2) (3) (a) 100% rule
- 705.12 (B) (2) (3) (b) 120% rule
- 705.12 (B) (2) (3) (c) sum of breakers rule (excluding main)
- 705.12 (B) (2) (3) (d) 120% rule on center-fed panels
There are five main sections of the inspection once the interconnection method is verified: (1) Main Panel, (2) Inverter, (3) Installation Details, (4) Roof, and (5) Fire. The images below display the first page of the corresponding sections of the inspection checklist that inspectors would verify when inspecting projects.
1) Main Panel
3) Installation Details