Since 2005, residential solar panel installations have increased by an average of 32% annually. Solar energy offers an environmentally friendly way to power homes and businesses. In 2021, data revealed that the amount of solar capacity installed in the U.S. could power more than 23 million homes.
Each state differs in solar panel laws, and it’s essential to understand your own state’s laws and the rights given to residents. In this blog, we’ll answer the following questions about solar panel laws in Texas:
- Are there any specific solar panel laws in Texas?
- Does Texas have a solar access law?
- Can I install my own solar panels in Texas?
- Who regulates solar panels in Texas?
- Do you need a license to install solar panels in Texas?
Are There Any Specific Solar Panel Laws in Texas?
The right to own and operate residential solar panels in Texas is protected by Texas Property Code Section 202.010 and Section 171.107, which states, “HOAs and POAs cannot prohibit or restrict a property owner from installing a solar energy device.” That said, there are some restrictions that HOAs may enforce if they apply.
These include solar panels that fall under the following problems:
- Installed without prior approval by the HOA
- Illegal or a risk to public health and safety
- Located on common property within the subdivision
- Extend higher than the roofline
- Do not conform to the slope of the roof; not parallel to the roofline
- Ground-mounted and extended above the homeowner’s fence
- Solar panel system has elements other than silver, bronze, or black tones
HOAs cannot completely ban homeowners from installing solar panels, but they do have control over certain circumstances.
Along with the above, HOA can regulate where panels are placed on a roof. If a homeowner believes their system will benefit from being placed in a location other than where HOA allows, they may petition and attempt to prove that the unapproved site increases the estimated annual energy production of the solar panels by more than 10%, This is done through a modeling tool provided by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, such as the PVWatts Calculator.
Does Texas Have a Solar Access Law?
Yes, Texas’ solar access law gives residents the right to install and operate solar panel systems. Certain limits can be placed on solar panel installations, such as needing approval from the HOA or predetermined locations to place the solar panels.
Can I Install My Own Solar Panels in Texas?
You can install your own solar panels on your home, but unless you’re an experienced electrician, hiring a licensed professional is highly recommended. Solar panel installation involves dangerous processes like working on your roof and electrical work.
If you opt for a contractor, ensure they have solid, in-writing proof of all Texas requirements and licensing. Texas law requires anyone installing solar panels, both residential and commercial, to have a Texas Electrical Contractor’s License (TECL) from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR).
Who Regulates Solar Panels in Texas?
Several entities regulate solar power in Texas, ranging from the federal government to the local government. Local governments can adopt specific regulations such as the International Residential Code Appendix T, which makes it mandatory for houses within a particular area to be constructed with roof space for solar panel systems.
Many sectors use regulations as a means to increase green energy. Texas state agencies, local governments, public schools, and public institutions of higher education are involved in improving energy efficiency and reducing overall utility costs.
Do You Need a License to Install Solar Panels in Texas?
Depending on the area you live in, Texas residents are typically required to fill out a Solar PV System Application form to submit to the local government for approval. The details of the form may differ from one municipality to another but share similarities.
Typical information you must fill out on the form includes your personal information (name, birth date, home address, phone number, etc.), verification of employment, and checking off at least one of the qualifying categories.
You can find an example of an application form here.
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