You’ve discovered the eye-popping benefits of going solar and are ready to install those panels – but then you consider the approval process of your Homeowners Association (HOA). Where do you even start? Especially since Missouri allows HOAs to restrict the use of solar panels? Well, we are here to offer a short and simple guide to help you with the process of getting solar approved by your HOA:
1. Get Ready for Solar
Before even trying to get anyone else’s approval, make sure solar is a good choice for your home by completing a simple check:
- Which direction does your roof face? South, East, and lastly West is preferred for optimal solar production. Solar should never be installed on the North face of a roof.
- Is there shading on your home that might cause a production concerns?
- What condition is your roof in? If your roof is old or needs repairs, fix that before putting solar on top of a shaky foundation.
- If your roof is not the optimal place to put solar panels, check to see if you have adequate acreage for a solar ground mount.
2. Check Out Your Neighborhood
Once your roof is all set, take a stroll around your neighborhood for some reconnaissance. Keep an eye out for signs that your HOA might be open-minded regarding exterior alterations such as solar panels.
Here are a few things to be on the lookout for:
- Other roofs with solar panels
- Ground-mounted solar
- Skylights (sometimes HOA committees consider skylights similar to solar panels.)
- Alternative yard practices (i.e., instead of the usual grass you see a rain garden, native plants, etc.)
If you don’t see any of these items in your neighborhood, don’t worry too much – it’s still quite possible that the HOA might allow you to install solar.
Contact Sun Solar to have a professional Energy Consultant visit your home to examine your location and give you a customized estimate and feasibility study for solar on your home. These items will help you make your case for solar to the HOA.
4. Read Your HOA Covenant
Once you see what solar could look like for your home, examine your HOA’s covenant for anything mentioning solar panels; your HOA board members or chair should happily give you a copy. Either the rules will approve solar panels, say nothing about them, or explicitly prohibit them. But even if your HOA specifically prohibits them, all is not lost – you just need to have a “variance,” or exception, approved.
Having a variance approved takes some paperwork and time dedication, but it is likely the work will pay off. We’ve seen a large number of requests cause the HOA to go ahead and change the bylaw itself!
5. Get Approved
The HOA approval process, whether through variance or general application, often requires several steps.
- Obtaining city permission (which will almost certainly be given)
- Written acceptance from neighbors who could see the solar panels
- Support letters from close neighbors
- Meeting with an HOA architectural review committee
- A presentation with the aforementioned drawings and simulations (we’ll be happy to help!) showing that your solar panels won’t hurt the neighborhood, but rather help it.
- This presentation can include both economic and environmental benefits to going solar.
If you and your neighbors are still getting the cold shoulder from your HOA, you can each set up a meeting with one of our energy consultants and the Sun Solar team will create a customized plan for you and even meet with the HOA on your behalf, if you so choose.
In the end, most HOA committees just want to help their neighborhood. That’s why we’ve worked successfully with multiple Midwestern HOAs that, once they’ve seen the facts about how solar helps the neighborhood, have changed their bylaws to allow solar.