If you have a Homeowners Association, you will probably need to submit some paperwork to them as part of the process of going solar. Our solar consultants and designers are happy to help you along the way if your HOA has questions, and will let you know when the time is right to start on the paperwork. Most HOAs will have no problem with your project, but if they do push back it’s good to have the tools to help educate them about the importance of solar energy and about the regulations in your area.
Your HOA may ask you to modify the design or location of your solar array for aesthetic reasons, as long as the changes don’t significantly impact electricity production. But before you even get to that point, you can smooth the way by first helping them understand the importance of solar energy, why you are choosing this project, and why the orientation of the panels is important.
How Solar Combats the Climate Crisis
This is a great opportunity, actually, to help the people on your HOA board understand how dire the climate crisis is, and possibly inspire people to make some changes themselves. Your typical grid electricity in the DMV is mostly powered by carbon-emitting coal plants and methane-emitting fracked natural gas. Let your HOA board know that with an average 10kW system, powering your home with solar energy will mitigate greenhouse emissions equivalent to taking about 30 cars off the road. You can also share this recent article in the Guardian about the importance of reducing greenhouse emissions immediately to avoid impending tipping points beyond which the climate crisis cannot be reversed.
The Importance of Orientation to Your Solar Array
Ipsun’s engineers and solar designers work very hard to optimize every roof’s potential to produce energy, and the tilt of the roof angle and orientation toward the sun make a big difference. Let your HOA know that to get the most benefit from your system it’s best to leave the design unchanged. In many states—most recently in Virginia—laws are in place that do not allow changes that reduce a solar system’s production by a defined percentage. Share this article written by Ipsun’s CEO about how orientation and azimuth affect solar energy production.
Below, check out the specific regulations for each state in our service area, and share these with your HOA if they are questioning your project. It’s important to note that these regulations do not apply to Historic Districts, which have their own set of rules in each state.
Legislation was passed in Virginia’s 2020 General Assembly session that clarifies how much modification is allowed by an HOA. Specifically, the HOA Solar bill, Delegate Jay Jones’ HB 414, says HOAs cannot instruct the homeowner to make changes to a project that would increase the cost by more than 5%, or decrease the expected output by more than 10%.
A 2018 law in Washington DC provides guidance for homeowners who want to go solar. The D.C. Law 22-142. Solar Expansion for Cooperative Associations Act of 2018 states: To provide that homeowners associations, condominium owners associations, and cooperative housing associations shall not prohibit an owner or member from installing or using a solar energy collection device on the owner’s or member’s property or residential unit, or on the roof of a property or residential unit that only covers one owner’s or member’s property or residential unit.
The law in Maryland has protected the rights of homeowners to install solar photovoltaic systems. Section 2-119 (a) of the Real Property Annotated Code of Maryland states: A restrictive covenant regarding land use may not impose or act to impose unreasonable limitations on the installation of solar collection panels on the roof or exterior walls of improvements.
Reach Out if You Need Help!
Hopefully, you won’t need this information at all and your HOA will happily approve your project. But if you do need help, this will give you some great talking points and helpful data to share with your HOA board. More info about dealing with your HOA when going solar can be found at Solar United Neighbors.
We are always here to help, so make sure to reach out to us if you’re having any problems with the paperwork or need more to share with your board. You can give us a call at 703-249-6594 for more information about the HOA approval process anytime.