Solar Plan Sets: The What, The Why, The How

September 28, 2023

For those considering solar installations (especially a DIY solar install!), understanding solar plan sets is crucial.

This comprehensive guide aims to educate you on what solar plan sets are, their components, the importance in the solar installation process, and how to acquire one, focusing on aiding individuals in obtaining customized solar kits and navigating through city approvals.

What are Solar Plan Sets?

Solar plan sets are integral components in the solar installation process, serving as the blueprint for solar projects. They are detailed packages of drawings and data sheets that outline the specifics of a proposed solar installation, including electrical components, structural information, and engineering calculations.

These sets are crucial for obtaining permits and interconnection approvals from local authorities, ensuring the project adheres to local building and electrical codes.

Components of Solar Plan Sets

Solar Plan Sets are meticulously crafted, comprising several crucial components, each serving a distinct purpose in illustrating the intricate details of the proposed solar installation. Here’s a more detailed exploration of each component:

1. Title Page: The title page is the introductory sheet of the plan set, providing a snapshot of the project. It lists essential information such as the project name, location, scope of work, and general notes about the project. It also includes an index listing all the pages represented throughout the plan set, offering a structured overview of the entire document. This page is crucial for giving the building and permitting office a clear, concise understanding of what is being installed on-site, allowing for a smoother approval process.

2. Site Plan: The site plan is a comprehensive aerial view of the property, showcasing intricate details like property boundary lines, adjacent roads, and properties. It illustrates where the solar equipment and the proposed system will be installed and any existing equipment on-site, such as a utility meter, which would act as the tie-in point to the grid. This plan is pivotal for professionals to understand the spatial arrangement and layout of the property and the solar installation, ensuring accurate scaling and precise placement of every component.

3. Roof or Ground Plan: This component is tailored to the type of installation—whether it’s constructed on a roof or mounted on the ground. For roof installations, it provides a zoomed-in, scaled drawing of the building, depicting the exact location of solar modules, mounting rails, fire access locations, and any potential obstructions. For ground-mounted arrays, it includes details like concrete pads, pier posts, and spacing between posts, all designed considering the site geography and soil types. This plan is essential for visualizing the installation in detail, aiding in identifying and resolving any spatial constraints or challenges early in the process.

4. Structural Details: Structural details offer a cross-sectional view of the modules, mounting system, roof, and structural details, illustrating how the modules are attached to the structure and how the added load from the solar array will be distributed throughout the structure. It often includes structural calculations and may require stamps from a licensed professional engineer, ensuring the structural integrity and safety of the installation. This component is vital for understanding the mechanical aspects of the installation and ensuring the structural feasibility of mounting the solar array.

5. Single or Three-Line Diagram: This is the core of the electrical design, depicting the interconnection of the PV system to the existing on-site equipment. It details the equipment being installed, wiring schedules, and electrical limitations of the equipment, providing a clear roadmap for the electrical installation of the system. This diagram is crucial for ensuring the correct and safe interconnection of the solar system to the existing electrical infrastructure, minimizing risks of electrical faults.

6. Labels and Markings: This page specifies the required electrical labels as per the National Electrical Code (NEC), ensuring every piece of equipment is correctly and clearly labeled to meet safety standards. It is crucial for the safety of the building, its occupants, and emergency personnel, providing clear indications of equipment specifications, potential hazards, and emergency procedures. This component is indispensable for maintaining safety standards and ensuring compliance with electrical codes.

7. Specifications: The specifications sheets are the concluding component of the plan set, detailing the equipment used for the project. It includes data sheets for modules, inverters, mounting rails, and any other associated photovoltaic equipment, providing a comprehensive overview of the technical specifications, dimensions, and manufacturer details of each component. This section is essential for verifying equipment details and ensuring the compatibility and reliability of the chosen equipment for the project.

Why Solar Plan Sets are Crucial in the Solar Installation Process

1. Alignment and Compliance: They serve as a source of truth, aligning multiple parties on the project details and ensuring compliance with local building and electrical codes.

2. Streamlined Permitting: Having a detailed and accurate solar plan set accelerates the permitting process, avoiding unnecessary delays and facilitating smoother installations.

3. Customer and Installer Alignment: It helps in setting the right expectations for the customers and provides installation teams with clear instructions, reducing the likelihood of errors during installation.

How to Get a Solar Plan Set with DIY Solar

You could find a specialty solar engineering and design firm to help you get your solar plan set. However, because these firms are not used to working with individuals, they will likely charge you an arm and a leg.

Luckily, DIY Solar can help you get your plan set for an affordable price since we get discounts for buying in bulk!

Our process looks like this:

1. System Sizing and Initial Design: Getting your solar plan set always starts with determining the right system size. We aim to have you offset 100% of your electricity usage (when averaged out across the year) and will use a year’s worth of electric usage data on your home combined with your home’s average sun exposure to calculate how many panels you will need. With this, we can get an initial design of your system for you to review and approve.

2. Site Survey: Once ready to move forward, we will have you take a few pictures of your roof, electrical interconnects, and other places around the outside of your house. This will then allow our team to get you the most accurate designs.

3. Submission and Review: With all this information in hand, our third party provider for solar plan sets will get going! Turn around times are usually 48 hours. After that, you can review and make sure that everything looks accurate. If there were any issues, we can do revisions until it gets done right.


Solar Plan Sets are pivotal in transitioning to solar energy, acting as the roadmap for successful solar installations. They ensure compliance, streamline operations, and facilitate alignment among stakeholders, ultimately contributing to the advancement of sustainable and renewable energy solutions. By understanding and utilizing solar plan sets effectively, individuals and companies can navigate the complexities of solar installations and embrace a greener, more sustainable future.

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