How to Turn on Your Solar Panels: A Step-by-Step Guide
The journey to clean, renewable energy is a multi-step process. After researching, consulting with a solar expert, having your home’s solar panel plan designed and approved, and a successful installation, you’ll be ready to turn on the system and experience the savings. Learning how to turn on your solar panels is a simple process. Our team of solar experts is also available to guide you through any questions or concerns which arise.
Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect the solar activation process to look like:
- How long to allot: Plan on less than 15 minutes (if you need to connect to WiFi it might be closer to 30 minutes).
- Tools needed: None.
- When to do it: System energization is easiest when done in daylight hours.
- What to know beforehand: If you’ve received the go-ahead from your solar installer and your system has received PTO (permission to operate) from your utility company – you’re good to go. You’ll need to know how to access your electrical panel, AC Disconnect, and solar inverter. We’ll walk you through where to find each of these below.
Now let’s get started!
What needs to happen before you turn on your solar panels?
Before your solar panels can be turned on, you need permission to operate, or PTO. PTO is the official sign off from the utility company letting you know you may safely turn on your solar panel system.
Once your system is installed and connected, your Blue Raven Solar team will apply for PTO. We will coordinate with your local utility company for an inspection of your solar panels and home. The person performing the inspection will make sure all safety precautions are in place and ensure your system is in compliance with local laws and regulations. They will check if the solar panels are functioning properly.
After the inspection, your utility company may install a new electrical meter, and then, if there are no issues with your solar system, you will be issued PTO and may turn on your solar panels. Once your system has PTO, Blue Raven will notify you and send you instructions via email.
How do you turn on your solar panels?
Turning on your solar panels typically requires a few simple steps you can complete between 15-30 minutes. The process will include:
- Finding your breaker box and turning on the solar breaker.
- Turning on your AC Disconnect.
- Turning on your solar inverter.
- Connecting the system to your home’s wifi.
- Checking the LED light display to make sure your system is fully activated.
Now, we’ll dive into more detailed descriptions of each step so you have all the details you need for a smooth and hassle-free experience. If at any point you feel you need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to our customer support team at 1-800-377-4480 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 1: Find your breaker box and turn on the solar breaker.
Electrical panels or breaker boxes are typically found in utility spaces, such as a basement, garage, utility closet, or laundry room. These breakers interrupt the flow of electricity from your panels to the grid and can protect anyone doing maintenance or repairs on the system, as well as protecting the electrical system itself.
Once you find the electrical panel, open the door. There should be a clearly labeled solar breaker switch with a red sticker, marked “PV Solar Breaker.” (PV stands for photovoltaic.)
Turn the switch to OFF for a few seconds, and then turn the switch to ON. With the breaker switched on, alternating current (AC) can pass to your AC Disconnect and inverter.
Occasionally, solar power systems do not use solar breakers. If this is the case for your home’s solar panels, move to the next step.
Step 2: Turn on your AC Disconnect
Next, find your AC Disconnect box. This will most likely be outside your home near your electricity meter. It should be clearly labeled. The AC Disconnect halts the flow of AC power between your home and your solar panels in case of an emergency, such as a fire.
Find the switch or lever on the AC Disconnect and switch it to the ON position. Now electricity can flow between your solar inverter and power grid.
Step 3: Turn on your solar inverter (a.k.a. combiner box).
To complete the process, find your solar inverter. This is also called the combiner box, and it will most likely be a box on the outside of your home, possibly in the garage. If you need help finding or accessing your inverter, call a Blue Raven Solar specialist for assistance at 1-800-377-4480.
Solar inverters are essential for solar power to be usable. When your home is connected to the grid, your panels send energy into the utility grid while your home in turn pulls power from the grid. However, the energy captured by solar panels is direct current, or DC, but your home and the grid require alternating current, or AC. The solar inverter captures the DC from the sun and converts it to AC.
Regardless of the type of inverter you have, to turn it on you will want to flip the breakers, switches, or dials to the ON position.
Step 4: Connecting the system to your home’s wifi.
As a safety precaution, solar inverters have a built-in wait time before they are fully activated. Thus, it may take a few minutes for your solar system to be fully turned on. You’ll know the system is on when the LED light display is fully activated.
These lights may not turn on until after you’ve connected your system to your home’s wifi. This final step also allows you to monitor your system’s status and production.
At Blue Raven Solar we install the Enphase Envoy combiner box, and an in-depth walk-through video on how to connect it to wifi is available on the Enphase site. You will want to press (but not hold) the AP mode button, then connect your phone or laptop to the gateway by selecting the wifi network titled Envoy_XXXXXX, where “XXXXXX” is the last six digits of your Gateway’s serial number. Once you’ve chosen the correct wifi network, open a browser on your device and type 172.30.1.1 (don’t forget the dots!) in the address bar. This will open the gateway configuration page where you’ll click View Networks and select your home network from the list of available networks. After you enter your home network’s password, your solar system should be able to connect to your home’s wifi. You can check by ensuring the green light by the cloud icon has turned green.
Once your system is connected, you can use the Enphase Enlighten app to monitor your solar system.
Can you turn on your own solar panels?
You can turn your solar panels on or off from your own home. Most solar owners choose to turn their solar panels on themselves so they can start powering their home with clean energy. However, if you need help or are unable to turn on your solar panels yourself, you can contact a solar expert at Blue Raven Solar for further assistance by calling 1-800-377-4480 or emailing email@example.com.
When should you turn your solar panels off?
In certain circumstances, you may need to shut off your solar panels. If you plan to clean your solar panels, shutting off power is a necessary safety step. Repairs or maintenance work also necessitate turning off power to keep yourself and hired professionals safe when the panels are being worked on.
Emergencies may also require turning off your solar panels. (In these instances, rapid shutdown can be a literal lifesaver.) For example, in the case of a fire in the home, turning off solar panels can prevent damage to the panels if they can be turned off safely. If there is a wildfire in the area, turning off your solar panels can be a helpful preventative step, particularly if you are evacuating your home. Solar panels tend to be resistant to damage from heavy winds and rain, as in a hurricane. Unless there is a fire or loose wires, your solar panels can usually be left on in a hurricane or tornado.
If you do need to turn off your solar panels, you can go through the steps above in reverse, turning off the solar inverter, AC Disconnect, and solar breaker switch. Alternatively, if your system has a rapid shutdown and you’re in an emergency situation, you can quickly turn it off with the rapid shutdown system.
What is rapid shutdown, and why is it helpful?
Rapid shutdown is a safety measure built into solar systems which allows solar panels to be quickly de-energized. Simply turning off the solar panels doesn’t always de-energize them right away, posing a danger to firefighters and other first responders. Rapid shutdown is an important safety consideration and is built into many solar systems produced after 2017. However, it is not a federal requirement, and laws vary from state to state.
If your solar panel has a rapid shutdown switch, be sure to locate it now so you know where to find it later. You’re looking for a big lever on the outside of your combiner box. It should be labeled “rapid shutdown.”
Need additional help with your solar panels?
If you need help, Blue Raven Solar is available to answer questions and offer additional support. You can call 1-800-377-4480 or email customer support at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions about how to turn on your solar panels.
If you’d like to explore adding a solar panel system to your home so you too can reap the benefits of generating your own renewable energy, reach out to request a no-obligation savings estimate today.