Anyone who lives in California in a planned development most likely has to join a HOA (Homeowners Association) in the process or purchasing the property. Most likely, this entails a yearly or monthly fee (which can be quite costly, depending on the area in which you reside). The HOA is the group that sets the guidelines for the aesthetics of the shared property as well as raising funds for group amenities such as a fitness center, tennis/basketball courts, pools and so forth.
According to California Solar Rights Act’s component Civil Code Section 714, association governing documents can limit the degree to restrict or prohibit solar energy systems installation in the interest of individual users.
“California solar energy act code allows reasonable restrictions,” the code states. This means restrictions that don’t significantly increase the cost of the system or decrease its performance or efficiency. The code has significantly different meanings in case of solar panels.
For photovoltaic systems complying with federal and state law:
- a cost that is not greater than $1000 over the photovoltaic system’s cost as proposed.
- a significant decrease in a PV system’s performance or efficiency of a cost not greater than 10 percent as proposed.
For a solar water heating system or swimming pool, the word significantly means:
- an amount greater than 10 percent of the real cost of solar energy system, but not in any case greater than $1000.
- decrease the performance of the solar energy system by the cost greater than 10 percent as specified.
Application is required for the installation of the system and the applicant must wait for the 45 days for approval of the application. If the applicant don’t receive any written piece of approval or rejection of the application within 45 days, he/she will be deemed approved. The applicants may be required to send additional documents in some cases.
Solar power is becoming a very popular option for homeowners as a source of natural energy. Not only does it help reduce the carbon footprint, but it saves a great deal of money. As well, many states offer economic incentives such as tax credits for solar panel installation.
However, some HOAs have a clause in their bylaws that prohibit solar panels. They feel that it takes away from the aesthetic of the landscape and fear it will lower market value. It is best to check with your Homeowner’s Association before looking into installing solar panels on your home. Keep in mind, though, that a lot of states have laws to protect the rights of the homeowners when it comes to solar electricity. This includes California.
A solar easement is a voluntary agreement between the HOA and the homeowner. This sets certain standards for homeowners to install solar panels, such as building anything that would interfere with solar panels. California protects homeowners rights to form solar easements with their homeowners association.
Solar Access Laws
These laws protect the homeowner from being prohibited by the HOA from installing solar panels. But, they do allow for “reasonable restrictions” on behalf of the Homeowner’s Association. For example, homeowners must first formally request permission from the HOA before installing a solar panel. As well, the HOA may enforce that the homeowners make sure that all wiring from the solar panel is hidden and may only allow a certain design of solar panel to be installed.
The short answer to the question “Can I install a solar panel on my home?” is solely dependent on which state you reside. In California, you can install solar panel without any restrictions.