What is PV Permit Design?

PV Permit Design is a new software service for PV installers to easily generate required balance of system (BOS) designs and associated documentation for residential scale PV permitting. The service reduces engineering time for installers, and reduces review time for building officials. Computer managed data and design calculations reduce errors that cause building officials to reject PV permit applications – reducing rework.

Current Status – Shutting Down…

The PV Permit Design service is no longer accepting new users. Support for the service has been discontinued.

NOTE: Current SolarNexus and SolarDesignTool subscribers have access to the PV Permit Design features within those applications (DO NOT log in to pvpermitdesign.com).

Send Email to pvpermitdesign@solardesigntool.com if you’re interested in integrating PV Permit Design features into your software.


PV Permit Design benefits installers of all sizes, and makes life easier for building officials receiving design documentation generated by PV Permit Design.

Contractors Building Officials
  • Reduce time and cost
  • Eliminate mistakes, ensure designs are complete
  • Confidence in calculations
  • Building official friendly documents

High Volume Installers

  • Produce permitting documents at scale
  • Integrate features into your existing software via API, no data re-entry

Low Volume Installers

  • No investment in tools that you would rarely use
  • Only pay for what you use
  • Same format for every project, from every installer
    • Reduced review time with standardized formats
    • Easier to read and find information you need
  • Helps ensures you receive complete and accurate documentation from contractors, reduces number of re-submissions
  • Design calculations shown with associated NEC Code sections cited
  • Substantially conforms to CA AB2188 streamlined permit process guidelines
  • Artifacts easily adapt to your current processes and infrastructure (paper or digital)
  • Enables your organization to process more PV permits with the same staff

How Does it Work?

Contractors can access the PV Permit Design service using the PV Permit Design.com website, OR via another PV design/quoting software that includes the PV Permit Design service (SolarDesignTool and SolarNexus are two vendor applications working to integrate the PV Permit Design features into their current software – tell your vendors to add the service).

how does it work - simple graphic

  1. Contractor requests a PV permit design for an existing ‘sales design’ (modules, inverter(s), and source circuits need to be defined) – software submits the sales design to the PV Permit Design service.
  2. Based on the ‘sales design’, PV Permit Design asks contractor to specify relevant BOS equipment (use J-boxes? combiners? AC/DC discos? wire and conduit types, circuit lengths?).
  3. Contractor provides answers
  4. PV Permit Design completes design calculations and provides selected design documents for download

What is a Qualifying Residential PV Install?

PV Permit Design only applies to small-scale residential PV permit installs which make up about 80% of the solar market. The following requirements are from the SolarABCs Expedited Permit Process for PV Installs and are also used by the California Solar Permitting Guidebook published by the CA Governor’s Office.

 Structural Requirements:

    1. the array is installed on a code-compliant roof structure
    2. an engineered mounting system is used to attach the array to the roof (ie. mounts, rails, etc)
    3. the array has a distributed weight of less than 5 lbs/ft² AND less than 45 lbs. per attachment.

Electrical Requirements:

    1. all electrical products are listed and identified for the application (i.e. modules, inverters, source combiners, etc.)
    2. the array is composed of 4 series strings or less
    3. the inverters (micro, or max 2 central) output is 13.44 kW or less (maximum size for 70-amp breaker) AND is connected on the load side of the service disconnect.

What Documents Does it Generate?

The PV Permit Design service generates the following documents. You can select which documents you want to generate as well as provide preferences for sheet size and fonts.

1) Single Line Electrical Diagram (PDF, DWG, DXF) – standard format and content simplifies review. Optional output to DWG or DXF formats enable additional editing within your CAD tool.

Outputs - SLD

2) NEC Code Compliance Report (PDF) – Shows key calculations for system and each individual circuit connection

Outputs - Code Compliance Report

3) CA Expedited ‘Toolkit’ Documents (PDF), including standard string and micro-inverter designs and structural criteria checklist – Satisfies jurisdictions requiring submittal of ‘Toolkit’ Docs from CA Governor’s Task Force

Outputs - Toolkit docs

4) Complete documentation of design (XML) – Uses free standard, public IEP Model data format. Machine readable, simple to store. Can enable fully digital permitting in the future.

Outputs - XML PV design


time-consuming = cost-consuming 

There are many issues with PV permitting that have been expressed by building officials and solar installers alike. These issues lead to higher costs on both sides primarily due to hours spent reviewing, resubmitting, and reworking PV permits.

SolarNexus conducted detailed surveys of 27 AHJs and 25 residential installers to learn more about these issues and determine how PV Permit Design could help. Some issues include confusing PV permit requirements that vary from city to city, incomplete or incorrect electrical calculations, incomplete supporting documents, just to name a few.

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Our goal is to reduce the percentage of PV permit resubmissions or rework and reduce the amount of time required to review SLDs, NEC code calculations, and structural reviews. Our solution doesn’t cover all permitting documents and doesn’t apply to every install but we are addressing the most complicated and time-consuming documents that are required for about 80% of solar installs in the U.S.

Source: Nationwide Analysis of Solar Permitting and the Implications for Soft Costs, 2012 – Clean Power Finance Clean Power Finance did a great solar permit study analyzing the issues with PV permitting from all perspectives. The issues listed above are a paraphrased summary of their findings. learn more>>
2014 project description webinar>>

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