Head of Sales & Operations
Head of Research & Development
Can California HOA’s Keep
Me From Going Solar?
March 30, 2019
Today’s deep dive is about a very popular question that we get asked by a lot of homeowners in California. This is about California Homeowners Association (HOA) and the Homeowners Association rules for installing solar panels on your homes.
A lot of homeowners ask us ‘Can my HOA prevent me from going solar?’. The answer is–they can’t stop you from going solar but there are some HOA rules around going solar that we’re going to discuss in this livestream.
California Solar Rights Act
In California, there is a solar law for residents known as the California Solar Rights Act. This act protects homeowners against HOA’s restrictions by limiting the ability of HOA and local governments ability to prevent the installation of solar energy systems.
With the California Solar Rights Act, the HOA cannot put its laws or mandates on either homeowners or any specific regions that prevent them from going solar. To be more clear, the HOA wouldn’t stop you from going solar but the purpose of HOA is to get some amount of uniformity into the neighborhood for aesthetic and other reasons. So, the middle ground is that the HOA can suggest some things to homeowners if they stay within certain rules.
HOAs Restrictions With Respect To Solar
The HOA cannot propose an alternative design if:
- The alternative design decreases system performance by more than 10%.
- The alternative design will increase the cost of the system by greater than $1,000.
These rules are pretty reasonable in real scenarios. Suppose the HOA requests you to move the panels from, maybe, a south-facing side to a west-facing side and let us assume it is not quite as productive but it is still within that 10% threshold. Now, HOA will be happy if you take those panels away from the street and put them on a roofing plan that’s not facing the street.
By these restrictions on solar, HOA is trying to:
- Accomplish an aesthetic street view
- Address the neighbor’s complaints such as like glare from your system, the look of the panels, etc.
Whatever the reason is, they still have to fall under this 10% or $1000 change in order for the HOA be able to intervene and act on.
What if You Already Built Your System?
Let us consider a scenario where your system is already built but your neighbor complains about the panels facing their home. At this point, the neighbor doesn’t really have any leg to stand on because the HOA should have caught it when the homeowner submitted the design for the HOA’s approval.
What do You Need to do Before Installing a Solar Energy System?
- You can contact your installer and get your solar system’s design according to your roof.
- You should now submit this design for HOA’s approval.
After observing your design, HOA will either approve it or suggest a change. If HOA approves it and doesn’t consider another neighbor, then that could be a scenario that was previously covered if your system is already built.
HOA takes 45 days to conduct a review before approving your solar energy system. This time should be enough for people to look at it and present alternative designs if there’s one to be presented within the rules. So, the HOA has 45 days from the time of submitting to them to get back to the homeowner on whether one can move forward with this design or any alternative design.