Frequently Asked Questions
What is SolarAPP+?
SolarAPP+, short for Solar Automated Permit Processing, is an online web portal that automates the plan review and process for issuing permits to qualified businesses or individuals to install code-compliant residential photovoltaic (PV) systems. Based on model building, electrical, and fire codes, SolarAPP automatically performs a compliance check based on inputs supplied by the contractor to ensure the proposed system is safe and code compliant. Installation practices, workmanship, and adherence to the approved design are then verified by the AHJ through the inspection process.
How do I register with SolarAPP+?
After you submit the registration form, you should see a pop-up screen that confirms your account registration. Before proceeding to submit project applications, you must provide the SolarAPP team your contractor license information, including numbers and expiration dates, for the each jurisdiction in you which you operate.
We will review the eligibility information and verify your contractor license in our system to complete the registration process. Once verified, you will be able to submit project applications in SolarAPP+ for addresses in enabled jurisdictions. Contact us if you have difficulty registering for an account.
What projects qualify to be submitted in SolarAPP+?
Projects must follow requirements outlined in the Eligibility Checklists to use SolarAPP+ for instant permitting. Listed in the file below are the requirements that must be fulfilled in order to utilize the platform for automated project approval:
What types of systems are not eligible for SolarApp+ review?
Read the Contractors Guide Release notes for more information.
Is there a limit on system size SolarApp+ can review?
SolarAPP+ is for rooftop residential solar systems. While SolarAPP+ does not specify a limit for the system’s total rated wattage capacity, there are technical limits on the power rating of service panel equipment, and these are enforced by SolarAPP+. Projects may be permitted to install up to 400A main service, 225A service disconnect switches and 225A busbars. If any project components exceed the above specification thresholds, the project will be designated as ineligible by the SolarAPP+ platform. See the Eligibility Checklist for more information.
How do I submit a project through SolarAPP+?
Before you can submit a project through SolarAPP+, you must first register and take the How to Use SolarAPP+ For Rooftop Solar Projects training, developed by IREC, which will show you how to submit a project through SolarAPP+. Once completing this training module, you will receive a certificate documenting your successful completion of the training, which you can then send to NREL, and your account will be enabled to submit projects in any jurisdictions where you are licensed. The training should take about an hour, and only needs to be completed once.
If the project you want to submit also included energy storage systems (such as batteries), you must register and take the How to Use SolarAPP+ For Solar and Storage Projects. This will walk you though the process of submitting solar + storage projects in SolarApp+, as well as help you identify which systems and projects can be approved through the platform.
How do I make changes to my approved SolarAPP+ plans?
After issuance, projects can be revised as many times as the contractor wishes prior to installation. After revisions are complete and the project is submitted, SolarAPP+ will then run another compliance check. If your updated system design is code compliant, the system will reissue your updated permit and alert the AHJ with a revised Approval Document and Inspection Checklist. The first three revisions are free of charge, while each subsequent revision would charge the installer the $25 project fee. If a revision requires payment of an additional fee, the revised permit is not issued until the fee is paid.
Contractors Guide: Release Notes
Read the Contractors Guide Release notes for more information.
Step 1: Eligibility to Use SolarAPP+
- Main Dwelling rooftop systems, legally permitted structures, and residential structures
- Maximum of 38.4 kilowatts
- Licensed Contractors Only (C46, C10, B)
- No ballasted solar PV systems [BSC, SFM, HCD 1 & HCD 2] A roof mounted system composed of solar photovoltaic panels and supporting members that are unattached or partially attached to the roof and must rely on their weight, aerodynamics and friction to counter the affect of wind and seismic forces
- No building-integrated photovoltaic systems (BIPV)
- Please review the SolarAPP+ Eligibility Checklist for eligible projects
Step 2: Outside Agency Review and Permitting Requirements
- An approval letter from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is required prior to submitting any building permit applications for review. You can contact the SMUD’s Solar Team by email or by phone at (916) 732-6420.
- A CCSD Fire Department approval letter is required for all Solar PV systems greater than 10 kilowatts and all systems with a battery backup connection. The approval letter is required prior to submitting any building permit applications for review. You can contact CCSD Fire online or by phone at (916) 405-7100.
Step 3: Submit for Automated Review through SolarAPP+
- Submit Solar Photovoltaic Design
- Click Log in or Register to get started
- Have Contractors licensing information available to complete this step
- A $25 processing fee will be charged by SolarAPP+ NREL.
Step 4: Apply for Permit
- Apply for a permit online
- Click Log in or Setup an Account to get started. Licensed contractors will need to register for an account by completing the online Contractors Registration form.
- Once registered, Log in and click on Apply for Permit.
- Choose the Permit Type: Online SolarApp Permit and follow the prompts.
- You will need to include the SolarApp+ Approval Document/Checklist and the SolarApp+ approval number to complete this step.
- Complete all the prompts and attach all the required documentation. Failure to do so will delay the issuance of the building permit.
- Once the permit is issued, the applicant will receive an email with instructions. The instructions will direct the applicant to the permit portal to download and print the permit document, SolarApp+ Checklist, and any applicable supporting documentation. This documentation shall be made available to the Building Inspector upon inspection.
Step 5: Scheduling an Inspection
- Log in to the online permit portal
- Locate the permit number on your Dashboard under My Active Permits or My Active Inspections.
- View detailed instructions on how to schedule an inspection online
Step 6: Submitting Revisions
- Submit your revisions for approval through SolarApp+ first
- The initial processing fee charged by SolarAPP+ covers up to three revisions
- You will be provided with a revised SolarAPP+ approved checklist. You are required to submit the approved checklist to the Building Division.
- Contact the Elk Grove Building Division at (916) 478-2235 or by email to request a revision to your existing permit. Once the request has been processed, you will receive an automated email notification with instructions on how to upload your revisions to the eTrakit permit portal. Do not create a new application. Please locate the existing permit number on your dashboard and attach the revised SolarAPP+ approved checklist.
- Once your approval document has been verified, you will receive an email notification with instructions to download and print your revised permit document.
- If the scope of the revision makes the project ineligible for use of SolarAPP+, please contact the Building Division to coordinate the revision submittal process.