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Project Guide For Solar Panels

This guide is intended to provide you an overview of the permitting process for installing solar panels, battery storage systems, or other elements related to a solar panel system. Systems rated less than 10kW can be reviewed at the permit counter, but all systems rated 10kW and above, and all commercial solar systems, must be logged in for plan review.

Help Me Get Started . . .

Before you start your project, you need to know what regulations apply to your property and what factors may impact your project. You'll need to consider:

Historic Landmark Status

Any project that involves changes to the exterior of landmark structures or properties in historic landmark districts must be reviewed by Landmark Preservation staff before you begin. The appropriate zoning, building, curb cut, or revocable permits needed for the project will be issued only after design review has been completed and the project has been approved. To determine your property’s landmark status, use the DevelopDENVER tool to the right. Then, visit the Design Review web page for more information.

Zoning

Zoning establishes standards for things such as the size and location of structures and acceptable uses for your property. Before you begin construction, you need to be sure your project is in compliance with the Denver Zoning Code. Use the DevelopDENVER tool to the right to determine the zoning for your property. In the results, click on your zone district for descriptions and definitions; then, click on your neighborhood context for more information on zoning in your area. 

NOTE: If your photovoltaic panels are flush-mounted per the definition in Section 13.3 of the Denver Zoning Code, no zoning permit is required.

Building Code

Denver Building Code provides minimum standards for building in order to safeguard public safety, health and welfare. The permitting and inspection process ensures that all home projects meet these standards and that all dwellings are safe and habitable at the time of construction.

Listed in the order they must be obtained. All permits must be in hand and at site before work may begin.

1. A valid City of Denver Contractor’s License or having passed a Homeowner’s Exam

2. Landmark Certificate of Appropriateness (if applicable)

Landmark approval is required before you obtain electrical permits, if the structure on which the solar system will be mounted is a designated structure for preservation or is in a district designated for preservation under the provisions of the Denver Revised Municipal Code (DRMC) Chapter 30. Use the DevelopDENVER map to find out if your site is a landmark/historic district, and then visit Landmark's Design Review webpage for more information.

3. Zoning permit (if applicable)

  • A zoning permit is required if the panels will be installed at an angle to the slope of the roof and do not meet the definition of “solar panel, flush mounted” per Denver Zoning Code Section 13.3, or 
  • if a generator or battery backup system is a part of the project and will be located on the exterior of the structure.

What to submit

Zoning permits for PV panels, battery storage systems, or other elements related to a solar panel system on a single-family home or duplex are reviewed by the single-family/duplex walk-through counter. Bring a site plan and elevations that show, at a minimum, the PV system/panels' height, bulk, and setback.

NOTE: PV projects for townhomes, multifamily buildings, and commercial buildings go to the commercial zoning counter instead.

4. Electrical permit – Submit plans for electrical permits in one of two ways: 

  • For systems 10 kW in size and over, electrical plans must be logged in for plan review. Submit these to the Log In counter.

What to submit

For the electrical review, you will need two sets of plans that include:

NOTE: If you plan to install a PV solar system on your house or duplex that is rated 10 kW and above, you will need to provide all of the documentation above as well as the stamp and signature of a Colorado-licensed professional engineer on the one-line diagram and calculations. 

You may use the Permit Process for PV System forms prepared by the Solar America Board for Codes and Standards to provide the required information for the commercial electrical review, which can be found on the board's website.

5. Plumbing permit (if applicable) –

A plumbing permit (a Quick Permit) is required for solar hot water systems at single-family and duplex properties. Commercial/multifamily solar hot water systems cannot be done on a quick permit and must instead be logged in for review.

Estimate Fees
Zoning and building permit fees are based on valuation of the work to be completed including the labor and materials. View the permit fee schedules to estimate the fees required for your project. Fees for solar panels are capped at $50 for the electrical permit. 

All approved construction set of documents, permits and inspector signature card are to be available on site upon request.

Typical inspections for installation of solar panels include the following:

  • Rough Utilities (Electrical and Plumbing)
  • Final Utilities (Electrical and Plumbing)
    NOTE:  You must provide a ladder at the time of inspection for all roof mounted inspections. 
  • Zoning inspection required for PV systems with tilt-up panels on roof
  • NIS inspection required where PV roof panels are within 1 foot of the maximum height or where panels are located near bulk plane edge

Building code policy IRC M2301 (PDF) details PV inspection requirements. Make sure to download and review it before scheduling an inspection.

NOTE:  The inspections listed above may vary depending on the complexity of your project. You will be advised as to which inspections your project requires through the permitting process and by your inspector.

Who Will Be Doing the Work?

Decide whether you plan to complete the project yourself or hire a licensed contractor to complete the job for you.

Do It Yourself

Do-It-YourselfYou may need to pass a Home owners exam  to demonstrate proficiency in specific trades in order to get a permit to do the work yourself. 

You will also need to meet a set of requirements established by the Denver Building Code and the Building Department Policy ADMIN 131.3 governing homeowner completed work.  This policy can be found on our Building Codes, Forms and Policies page. 

Contractor

Contractors Use the Contractor license search to see if your contractor has obtained a contractor's license from the City and County of Denver. 

 

To view other considerations, see our Homeowners' webpage.

 
Home Projects

Every project is different.  Depending upon the complexity of your project, the permit requirements and inspection process may vary from the information presented in this guide.  If you have any questions, please contact us.

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