Harnessing the power of the crowd to reduce the cost of solar and make clean, sustainable energy available to every community.
Solar Crowdsource believes that homeowners should have the right to use their own property to generate their own electricity using their own resources and save money on their electricity bill for many reasons but primarily for the reasons below:
- Utility rates are going up
- We are using more electricity than ever
- Solar increases the value of homes
- Choosing solar is a property rights issue
HomeOwners Associations (HOAs) across the country continue to prohibit homeowners from installing solar, mostly for aesthetic reasons. HOAs are concerned that the look of solar on rooftops, canopies, pergolas, and the like will diminish the look and feel of the neighborhood and bring property values down. The truth is that solar increases property values and there’s no evidence that solar has a negative impact on homes and neighborhoods where solar is permitted.
This is not to say that homeowners should have unfettered access to solar and be able to install solar panels anywhere and anyhow they like. Quite the opposite, the installation of solar panels should be regulated to ensure high quality and aesthetically pleasing installations and compliance with local regulations.
After presiding over Solarize programs since 2015, Solar Crowdsource has adopted the following HOA best practices and model covenants that we encourage HOAs to consider when their homeowners are considering an investment in solar energy to save money and increase property value.
If your HOA is open to Solar Crowdsource presenting at a board meeting, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
HOA Solar Best Practices
- Pre-approved by the Architectural Review Committee prior to installation
- Preferred location is rear-facing roof-mounted array on the side or rear roof(s)
- Street-facing allowed if documentation shows this is the only feasible location
- Flush-mounted panels (i.e. - the plane of the array is parallel to the roof)
- All components should be integrated into the design of the home
- Electrical connections will be located directly under and/or within the perimeter of the panels and placed as inconspicuously as possible when viewed from all angles
- The highest point of a solar panel array will be lower than the ridge of the roof
- All painted surfaces will be kept in good repair
HOA Solar Guidelines (Sample)
The board adopts these guidelines to promote the use of solar energy and to ensure uniform installation and design of solar energy systems.
- Homeowners should first consider all existing structures and landscaping before selecting a site for any proposed solar system.
- All plans must be pre-approved by the Architectural Review Committee (or HOA equivalent) prior to installation.
- Preferred location of solar panels is rear-facing roof-mounted array on the side or rear of the house.
- Flush-mounted panels (i.e. – the plane of the array is parallel to the roof) on a roof facing a street will be allowed if documentation is provided from the solar contractor indicating this is the only feasible location for a solar array.
- All components of the solar system should be integrated into the design of the home. The color of the solar system components should generally conform to the color of the roof shingles to the extent practical.
Applications submitted to the ARC should include the following:
- A diagram “drawn to scale” by the licensed contractor installing the system showing where the system will be installed
- Photos of the roof area where the array will be mounted
- Material to be used and/or manufacturer’s description of the system, photos and/or pictures of the system and color of the system
- Where possible, provide photos of similar existing systems as examples
Variance to Solar Guidelines
A variance to certain sections of these guidelines may be granted if compliance with these guidelines would significantly increase the purchase price of the solar system or significantly decrease its performance or efficiency.
If a homeowner seeks a variance, they must provide a minimum of two bids depicting the cost of installation of the solar systems – one bid in compliance with these guidelines and a second bid depicting the desired alternative location, unless the variance represents the only feasible installation location.
The ARC may require bids or estimates from a second contractor in order to make an informed decision.
Copy & Paste Samples for Reference
A. HOA Solar Covenant (Sample)
The [ insert name of community ] covenants have been designed to put into place procedures that will carry forward the [insert name of community] desire to enhance the quality of life and improve the environment. In order to ensure that property owners have the freedom to employ alternative energy solutions if desired, solar collectors may be placed on a dwelling.
B. HOA Mission Statement (Sample)
- [ Insert HOA name ] is dedicated to identifying ways to provide internal and external cost savings, while providing a sustainable benefit to our economy, ecology and community.
- [ Insert HOA name ] will bring the neighbors of our community together to achieve and preserve a vibrant community for living, working, learning and playing.
C. Goals Statement (Sample)
We are committed to strengthening our community by:
- Promoting neighborliness, cooperation and goodwill among the members of our community;
- Collecting and distributing information that is relevant to the [ insert name of community ] community to keep residents informed;
- Working with officials, citizens and organizations to maintain the safety and beauty of our community and to ensure the availability of public and private community services;
- Encouraging environmental community practices in order to safeguard the health and well-being of the residents in our neighborhood, as well as the environmental health of our community;
- Facilitating community conversation and consensus on important topics and providing a community voice where possible;
- Encouraging responsible development that includes diversity in housing and consideration for the environment;
- Promoting [ insert HOA name ] as a vital and prosperous business community. (if applicable)
Frequently Asked Questions
A Rooftop Solar Energy system is made up of several important components to help provide clean solar electricity for our homes and businesses. These components are 1) Solar Modules, 2) Inverters, 3) Safety equipment like shut-off devices and module-level power electronics, 4) communications equipment to help you monitor your system, and 5) the racking structure that holds solar panels to the roof. Each piece plays a critical role in ensuring a safe and reliable source of clean energy from your solar energy system.
Solar Panels produce electrons when hit by sunlight. Those electrons gather together and travel along tiny conductors inside the solar panel to create electrical power. The electricity leaving a solar panel is Direct Current (DC). Modern homes and buildings use Alternating Current (AC) to run our appliances so electricity from solar panels must be converted before entering your home's electrical systems. Solar Inverters convert the DC electricity from the solar modules to AC electricity for use in our homes and buildings. Inverters can either be located underneath your solar panels on the roof (called MicroInverters) or hung on a wall inside or outside your home.
All of the electricity converted by your inverter will enter your home through the interconnection point with your home's existing electrical infrastructure.
This electricity will first and foremost go to meeting any electrical demand your home has in the moment that the electricity is generated. If your home needs more electricity than your solar panels are producing, then your home will draw power from both the solar energy system and your existing utility system. If your home is producing more solar power then your home needs than the excess solar power can either be saved in a battery energy storage system or can be exported back to the utility grid. Your electric meter will keep track of the power you have consumed and the power you have exported. This is called bi-directional metering.
Some utilities offer a program called Net-Metering which credits exported solar energy at a rate equal to the amount they charge when you purchase electricity. This credit has the effect of offsetting future energy consumption from the grid - like at night when the sun isn’t shining. Every utility is different and it's important to work with a solar installer who knows your utility's energy policy. Be sure to ask your solar consultant questions about your utility’s policy.