Solar Photovoltaic and Solar Hot Water Panels

Solar Panels This webpage provides guidance on applying for solar panels, inverters, battery storage systems, and other equipment or devices related to solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar hot water panel systems. Please review this information before applying for permits.

General Rules


  • Homeowners can apply for building permits without a contractor, but will need to meet specific eligibility criteria outlined on the homeowner permits webpage.
  • Solar panels are not eligible for an Electrical Quick Permit. They will require plan review.

Residential, Roof-Mounted Panels: Access and Pathways Requirements

  • Detached carports, shade structures, flat roofs, and detached garages are exempt from solar PV panel system pathways and ridge setbacks. 

  • Solar PV panel systems should be installed in a way that provides no less than two (2) 36” wide access pathways located on separate roof slopes from the lowest edge of the roof to the ridge.

  • For each roof slope with solar PV panels, a 36” pathway from the lowest edge of the roof to the ridge is required on one of the following:

    • On the same roof slope that the solar PV panels are located,

    • On an adjacent roof slope, or

    • Straddling the same and adjacent roof slopes.

  • At least one pathway is required on the street or driveway side of the roof.

  • Pathways should be installed in areas with minimal obstruction from mechanical equipment, vent pipes, and conduit.

  • If 1/3 or less of the total roof area contains solar PV panels, an 18” clear setback is required on both sides of a horizontal ridge.

    • If 1/3 or more of the total roof area contains solar PV panels, a 36” clear setback is required on both sides of a horizontal ridge.

  • For homes with sprinkler systems where the solar PV panels take up 2/3 or less of the total roof area, an 18” setback is required on both sides of a horizontal ridge.

    • For homes with sprinkler systems where the solar PV panels take up 2/3 or more of the total roof area, a 36” setback is required on both sides of a horizontal ridge. 

  • Solar PV panels cannot be located below an emergency escape and rescue opening. A minimum 36” wide pathway must be provided to the emergency escape and rescue opening.

  • Pathways should be located over areas that can support the weight of fire fighters accessing the roof.

Permits

Electrical Permit

All systems require an electrical permit. Scroll down for a list of items to upload with your application.

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.

Plumbing Permit (if applicable)

A plumbing permit is required for all solar hot water systems.

How to Apply using E-permits

Apply for permits online

First-time e-permits users will need to create an online account. Once signed into e-permits, go to "Apply for a Permit" under "Development Services."

For single-family homes/duplexes:

  • Select Development Services > Apply for a Permit > Building Log
  • Under Project Classification, select Single-Family/Duplex Residential 
  • Under Project Scope, select Solar Panels
  • Indicate whether or not the solar system is 10 kW or above
    • For systems 10 kW in size and over, stamped and signed(PDF, 1023KB), engineered plans must be uploaded. 
    • Systems rated under 10 kW will not require engineered electrical plans, but do still require a review of non-engineered electrical plans.
  • If a plumbing permit is also needed: Return to e-permits to obtain a plumbing quick permit. Select Development Services > Apply for a Permit > Quick Permit and follow the prompts.

For commercial and multifamily buildings:

  • Select Development Services > Apply for a Permit > Building Log
  • Under Project Classification, select Commercial/Multifamily Buildings or IRC Townhome
  • Under Project Scope, select Solar Panels
  • If a plumbing permit is required: Commercial and multifamily projects will receive a plumbing review when the electrical permit application is submitted.

What to Upload with Your Application

Please upload these documents with your online application:

  • Complete one-line diagram
  • Supporting calculations
  • Equipment catalog sheets
  • The items listed in building code policy IRC R324(PDF, 311KB)
  • If a zoning permit is required, include a fully labeled site plan and building elevations that show the solar panels' or generator/battery back-up system's location, height, bulk, and setback

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. Learn how to apply a valid electronic signature.(PDF, 1023KB)

You may also 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

Residential projects should also include the following information on the site plan:

  • the location of all buildings on the property,
  • the location of the layout of the solar panels on the roof,
  • the required roof access and pathways setbacks,
  • dimensions and shading/hatching for clarity,
  • the locations of all roof-mounted mechanical equipment, vent pipes, and other equipment located on the roof that could obstruct the pathways, and 
  • the applicable codes.

View Drawing Examples

Special Situations

Landmarks and Historic Districts

Projects that are located in a historic district or a designated landmark will require a certificate of appropriateness, meaning the project's design has been reviewed by Landmark Preservation and is appropriate for the historic nature of the property. It is highly recommended that you obtain this certificate before applying for building and zoning permits.

Learn more about meeting design guidelines for landmark properties

Research your property