Step by step

Get a permit for a solar panel or photovoltaic system

Submit your application to install a photovoltaic (PV) system with solar panels and eligible battery storage.

Solar energy is an important sustainable energy source that San Franciscans can capture. These systems not only help the environment, but can reduce electricity bills every month. 

Check to see if you qualify to apply for a permit for your solar panel or photovoltaic system and what requirements you need to meet.

(If your project includes an energy storage system that is more than 20 kilowatt-hours, follow the over-the-counter process for building permit forms.)

1

Check if you can apply for a solar panel or PV system permit

Cost:

Free

Time:

5 minutes

Only licensed contractors with the following license types may apply for a solar panel or photovoltaic system permit:

  • A
  • C-10
  • C-46

B contractors may also apply for a photovoltaic system permit if it is for a brand new building or a substantial remodel. (See the San Francisco electrical code supplemental regulations about our restrictions.)

Check your contractor license type.

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2

Check if your project requires plan review

Cost:

Free

Time:

5 minutes

If your installation is above 4 kilowatts, you need to prepare and submit plans for review.

If your installation is 4 kilowatts or less, you do not need plans. You can choose which way to apply:

  • Submit an instant online permit if you are already registered with DBI.
  • Email us your application and plans. Go to step 4 and fill out the permit application.
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and

Prepare your plans

Cost:

Depends on the project

Time:

5 hours or more
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3

Fill out the permit application

Cost:

Free

Time:

10 minutes

Use our solar permit application PDF generator to complete your application form.

Include:

  • Project address
  • Property owner name
  • Your contractor name, license information, and contact information 
  • The number of PV modules and watts per module

Check boxes to show:

  • If the property is residential or non-residential
  • Any specific features (battery, subpanel)

Add your name at the bottom to sign the form.

Click “Generate Solar Permit Application” to download the form as a PDF. 

Sign the PDF. Do not change anything else about the downloaded PDF.

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4

Submit your permit application

Cost:

Free

Time:

5 minutes

Email your application to DBI.pvplans@sfgov.org.

Use the subject line “New PV Application from (Your Name or Project Name).” 

Include these email attachments:

  • PDF of your completed application form
  • Plan drawings for projects more than 4 kilowatts
  • Data sheets for projects more than 4 kilowatts
  • Structural review for projects more than 4 kilowatts
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and

Wait for our email

Cost:

Free

Time:

2 weeks

We will review your application and plans and email you with our response.

If something is missing or unclear, make the necessary changes and return by email.

We will email you when your approved plans and permits are ready for pick up.

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5

Pick up your permit and pay fees

Cost:

Depends on the project

Time:

2 to 4 hours

Come to the Permit Center to pick up your permit and pay fees.

You cannot pay over the phone or electronically. You must come in person.

Join the queue to see a permit tech.

Ask for your plan number.

You will pay and get your permit and approved plans. (Approved plans are also attached to your final email.)

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6

Install your approved solar panel or photovoltaic system

Once you have a permit, you may install your solar panel or photovoltaic system.

Follow all notes on the cover sheet and plans.

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7

Get your system inspected

When installation is complete, schedule an inspection. 

Your approved plans must be available onsite for your inspection.

The inspector will either:

  • Sign "final inspection complete" on your permit or 
  • Provide a "declaration of inspection” as proof of inspection

Take your proof of inspection to your utility provider to have your solar panel connected to the grid.

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Last updated September 30, 2021