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Subject: Solar Panels
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Author Messages
RobertB67
(Alabama)

Posts:2


09/13/2021 8:49 PM  
Has any HOA had Solar Panels installed? Ours is a Garage with 3 floors above and one Common Area roof. The roof has individual Units HVAC units.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:17785


09/14/2021 2:11 AM  
Common roofs are typically under control of the Association.
I doubt that they will approve panels be installed on the roof as they can cause issues and additional expense when maintaining the roof.


CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2475


09/14/2021 4:57 AM  
It will likely depend on state law and how your governing documents define the roofs and maintenance responsibilities. In Ohio, condominiums are not required to allow installation of anything on the roofs (not even satellite dishes). The first link below may be helpful, but you may want to consult with a lawyer who understands HOA/condo law.

https://digitalcommons.law.lsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1177&context=jelr

https://www.al.com/news/2021/06/feds-alabama-solar-fee-may-violate-federal-law.html

We recently had a lengthy thread with a poster who owns a condo in California, where state law says that solar panels must be allowed. However, there were a bunch of hoops that the condo owner had to jump though, including insurance requirements. Not sure how that ended up. The owner in that thread owned a townhome and his was the only unit under that part of the roof, which is very different from a multi-story condo building.

TomP11
(California)

Posts:66


09/14/2021 7:15 AM  
RobertB67,

You might have to get your solar company involved if you are in a right to solar state. I am the one who had to fight my HOA to get solar installed and it come down to the solar company telling the HOA that if they delayed the project any longer, they would take legal action. Lets just say, it was approved the next day.
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:768


09/14/2021 7:29 AM  
Posted By RobertB67 on 09/13/2021 8:49 PM
Has any HOA had Solar Panels installed? Ours is a Garage with 3 floors above and one Common Area roof. The roof has individual Units HVAC units.





For clarification, is it the HOA itself that is looking into installing Solar Panels or is it an individual owner?
LoriM15
(Florida)

Posts:36


09/14/2021 9:32 AM  
Posted By TomP11 on 09/14/2021 7:15 AM
RobertB67,

You might have to get your solar company involved if you are in a right to solar state. I am the one who had to fight my HOA to get solar installed and it come down to the solar company telling the HOA that if they delayed the project any longer, they would take legal action. Lets just say, it was approved the next day.




Every solar panel company in our state and many others tells homeowners that an HOA cannot interfere with their right to install solar panels. They tell them this to sell solar panels. Unfortunately, that's not the whole truth. In Florida, our statute says that the HOA can't deny the installation of solar panels, but we can restrict the placement of the solar panels on certain areas. Our HOA just prevailed against a homeowner who was told by his solar company that he could put panels on all four sides of his roof. Our architectural committee told him not on the front after consulting with our attorney. There's more to this story, but solar panel companies sometimes run into HOAs like ours that are willing to invest money in a lawsuit if necessary. Don't always believe the marketing materials.
AugustinD


Posts:1695


09/14/2021 9:56 AM  
Posted By RobertB67 on 09/13/2021 8:49 PM
Has any HOA had Solar Panels installed? Ours is a Garage with 3 floors above and one Common Area roof. The roof has individual Units HVAC units.
-- Is this for an Alabama-located HOA/COA?

-- Is this a condominium?

-- If this is or Alabama, did you even try googling on the topic of what Alabama HOAs/COAs are allowed to do regarding requests et cetera for solar panels? If you did, you will see that Alabama HOAs/COAs can do whatever their governing docs say the HOA/COA can do. In other words, Alabama has no statute regarding solar panels that overrides a HOA/COA's governing documents.
AdamL1
(Idaho)

Posts:117


09/14/2021 11:38 AM  
to piggy back on this thread, any discussion on HOA's requiring professional installation? As a competent engineer and technical DIY'er, this is something entirely within my wheelhouse. Is an HOA's rule that it must be professionally installed an unreasonable rule?

Idaho law: https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/title55/t55ch1/sect55-115/
"A homeowner’s association may adopt reasonable rules for the installation of solar panels or solar collectors consistent with an applicable building code"

Our [old] CCR's:
Energy Devices, Outside:
No energy production devices, including but
not limited to generators of any kind and solar energy devices, shall be constructed
or maintained on any portion of the Property without the written approval of the
applicable Architectural Committee, except for heat pumps shown in the plans
approved by the Architectural Committee. This paragraph 4.17 shall not apply to
passive solar energy systems incorporated into the approved design of a residential
structure.

Published ACC guidelines after the new state lawL

"Site Selection and Neighborhood Impact: Homeowners should first consider all
existing structures, landscaping and impact on neighbors’ property value before
selection of a rooftop site for any proposed solar system. Homeowners should
also consider solar shingles rather than solar panels, which are visually much
more attractive and harmonious with the architectural design traditions and
uniformity of Nature’s Wood Duck Island homes than solar panels. "

"All solar panel
installation requests should be submitted to the ACC as a separate project and
not as part of a re-roofing application. Solar collection system design plans with
drawings or photos, including brand name, licensed solar installer name and
photos of panels and hardware, must be submitted with the ACC application. "

"Upon initial ACC approval, and
prior to installation, homeowners must submit to the Wood Duck HOA’s
neighborhood manager a copy of the City of Boise approved building permit for
the solar panel installation and city approved installation plans, showing any
changes from the original plans submitted with the ACC application. ACC final
approval is contingent upon final ACC review of compliance based on city
approved plans and issuance of the city building permit. "

"Installer: The solar collection system must be professionally installed by a
licensed solar installer. All solar panel installation applications to the ACC must
include the installing contractor’s name and contractor’s license number.
Installations by a non-licensed handyman or homeowner are not permitted. In
addition to the requirements of the HOA, the installation must meet all city code
requirements. "


AugustinD


Posts:1695


09/14/2021 12:01 PM  
Posted By AdamL1 on 09/14/2021 11:38 AM
Is an HOA's rule that it must be professionally installed an unreasonable rule?
I think it's pretty common for HOA rules to require licensed, insured professional contractors.

Granted the more rural the HOA, and the larger the lots, the less reasonable such rules might be.

Solar panel systems typically tie into the publicly used grid. If I were on a HOA board, I'd want assurances the work was done right, as provided by licensing and supported by the contractors' insurance.

In short, and barring other information, if I were on this HOA's board, and an owner wanted to do-it-himself/herself, I'd vote to respond, "No," and be ready with the HOA attorney to fight the owner tooth and nail.
AdamL1
(Idaho)

Posts:117


09/14/2021 12:29 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 09/14/2021 12:01 PM
Posted By AdamL1 on 09/14/2021 11:38 AM
Is an HOA's rule that it must be professionally installed an unreasonable rule?
I think it's pretty common for HOA rules to require licensed, insured professional contractors.

Granted the more rural the HOA, and the larger the lots, the less reasonable such rules might be.

Solar panel systems typically tie into the publicly used grid. If I were on a HOA board, I'd want assurances the work was done right, as provided by licensing and supported by the contractors' insurance.

In short, and barring other information, if I were on this HOA's board, and an owner wanted to do-it-himself/herself, I'd vote to respond, "No," and be ready with the HOA attorney to fight the owner tooth and nail.





agreed, the final electrical connection the grid is a major one, requiring city inspection, mains shutdown and a licensed electrician to handle. But a lot of the physical install is really basic, and can be done by someone of reasonable competency and skill. There's many many resources dedicated to citizen-installs and walking through preparing for city inspection before scheduling the final electrical.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2475


09/14/2021 12:32 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 09/14/2021 12:01 PM
Posted By AdamL1 on 09/14/2021 11:38 AM
Is an HOA's rule that it must be professionally installed an unreasonable rule?
I think it's pretty common for HOA rules to require licensed, insured professional contractors.

Granted the more rural the HOA, and the larger the lots, the less reasonable such rules might be.

Solar panel systems typically tie into the publicly used grid. If I were on a HOA board, I'd want assurances the work was done right, as provided by licensing and supported by the contractors' insurance.

In short, and barring other information, if I were on this HOA's board, and an owner wanted to do-it-himself/herself, I'd vote to respond, "No," and be ready with the HOA attorney to fight the owner tooth and nail.



The OP said that the roof was common area:

"Has any HOA had Solar Panels installed? Ours is a Garage with 3 floors above and one Common Area roof. The roof has individual Units HVAC units."

If the solar panel will be installed and work will be done on common area, I think the HOA is within its rights to require professional installation. You could make a case that the board is being negligent if they didn't do so (and the insurer may also require it).
AugustinD


Posts:1695


09/14/2021 12:36 PM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 09/14/2021 12:32 PM
Posted By AugustinD on 09/14/2021 12:01 PM
Posted By AdamL1 on 09/14/2021 11:38 AM
Is an HOA's rule that it must be professionally installed an unreasonable rule?
I think it's pretty common for HOA rules to require licensed, insured professional contractors.

Granted the more rural the HOA, and the larger the lots, the less reasonable such rules might be.

Solar panel systems typically tie into the publicly used grid. If I were on a HOA board, I'd want assurances the work was done right, as provided by licensing and supported by the contractors' insurance.

In short, and barring other information, if I were on this HOA's board, and an owner wanted to do-it-himself/herself, I'd vote to respond, "No," and be ready with the HOA attorney to fight the owner tooth and nail.



The OP said that the roof was common area:

"Has any HOA had Solar Panels installed? Ours is a Garage with 3 floors above and one Common Area roof. The roof has individual Units HVAC units."

If the solar panel will be installed and work will be done on common area, I think the HOA is within its rights to require professional installation. You could make a case that the board is being negligent if they didn't do so (and the insurer may also require it).
I agree. But AdamL1 switched gears a bit, asking about a single family HOA's requirements for solar installation on, presumably, an owner's lot or single family stand-alone home. In AdamL1's case, I think a HOA would be on not-as-strong ground. Case law existing on the point (for a single family home HOA community, DIY vs. requiring licensed contractors) would not surprise me.
AugustinD


Posts:1695


09/14/2021 12:41 PM  
Posted By AdamL1 on 09/14/2021 12:29 PM

agreed, the final electrical connection the grid is a major one, requiring city inspection, mains shutdown and a licensed electrician to handle. But a lot of the physical install is really basic, and can be done by someone of reasonable competency and skill. There's many many resources dedicated to citizen-installs and walking through preparing for city inspection before scheduling the final electrical.
I do hear you. As I just posted to CathyA3, I do think it's worth checking the case law on the point. There may very well be some courts that said, in cases like your HOAs, no the HOA cannot required a licensed insured contractor for xyz. It's a little too much like a single family home HOA requiring that an owner use a licensed insured contractor to install a water heater. Like one-quarter of the folks grab a relative or friend and put in their own water heaters, without using a contractor. Granted when it comes time to sell, they may have to add a(n increasingly code required) expansion tank.
RobertB67
(Alabama)

Posts:2


09/14/2021 12:44 PM  
Yes. Roofs are Commin Area in most Condis. Our roof has individual HVAC units on it already. This invokes the question, is the restriction on Common Area now moot. Does installing Solar prevent the function of the roof?
My answer is Yes, the use of the roof for Individual HVAC units gives an opening for Solar. Question 2, the roof still will provide its function unimpeded and the Solar Psnel may provide longer life for the roof by keeping the Elements away from the surface.
In California the law AB 634 lays out the rules. An HOA cannot restrict Sokar that would cost the Oener by more than $2,000.
Has any HOA Biard member presided over an installation? What rules snd restrictions do you have?
AugustinD


Posts:1695


09/14/2021 12:58 PM  
Posted By RobertB67 on 09/14/2021 12:44 PM
Question 2, the roof still will provide its function unimpeded
Don't you think you are a little biased? You want some fraction of the common area roof assigned to you so that you may penetrate it at will to install the supports for the solar panel, right?

If I were on your COA Board:

"Unimpeded," unimpaired and not compromised my foot. Roof penetrations are a big deal, especially when performed by amateur contractors.

Multiple different contractors (as hired by different owners, who likely hired the least expensive solar contractor possible), my foot.

I am pro-solar. But the California law is far less generous to condos than it is to single family home HOAs. Rightly so.

Alabama courts may very well view things as I do, getting behind Alabama condos that say, "Nooo."

Get your anecdotal arguments in order. Bottom line is if your Alabama condo's board does not want to deal with all the work and potential liability of each owner having her/his own contractor do the work, then the board won't approve this.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2475


09/14/2021 1:06 PM  
Posted By RobertB67 on 09/14/2021 12:44 PM
Yes. Roofs are Commin Area in most Condis. Our roof has individual HVAC units on it already. This invokes the question, is the restriction on Common Area now moot. Does installing Solar prevent the function of the roof?
My answer is Yes, the use of the roof for Individual HVAC units gives an opening for Solar. Question 2, the roof still will provide its function unimpeded and the Solar Psnel may provide longer life for the roof by keeping the Elements away from the surface.
In California the law AB 634 lays out the rules. An HOA cannot restrict Sokar that would cost the Oener by more than $2,000.
Has any HOA Biard member presided over an installation? What rules snd restrictions do you have?



It's pretty common for multi-story condo buildings to have HVAC units on their roofs, and to the best of my knowledge that does not affect the legal status of the roofs or prevent any other kinds of restrictions.

To the best of my knowledge, California law didn't differentiate between buildings with HVAC units on them and buildings without. I'm sure there will be legal squabbles over this, but that's pretty much par for the course. Lawmakers enact laws, and then people have to figure out how to make them work in practice (occasionally discovering some unintended consequences that were missed during the legislative wrangling).

For sure having a bunch of stuff on roofs can make maintenance more difficult and may result in higher costs and shorter usable lives for the roofing materials. These increased costs will be passed on to homeowners. No free lunch...
DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1681


09/15/2021 6:03 AM  
I agree that having HVAC units on a common element roof does not automatically allow solar.
Another problem with multi story buildings is how to allocate roof space? Does the first owner adding panels get to claim all of the usable space, so the other owners can't add solar?

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
AugustinD


Posts:1695


09/15/2021 6:17 AM  
Posted By DouglasK1 on 09/15/2021 6:03 AM
Another problem with multi story buildings is how to allocate roof space? Does the first owner adding panels get to claim all of the usable space, so the other owners can't add solar?
And as some sharpshooter veteran hoatalk member here also recently pointed out, the use of roof space by one owner arguably changes this owner's percent allocation of ownership of the common areas. But per many or Declarations, the percent allocation may only be changed by amendment of the Declaration, meaning at least a super majority must approve the change. (Or more likely and per statute/case law, since this involves 'percent ownership interests,' all owners must approve the change.)

Also: With multi-story condos, where a single roof sits over several (to a lot of) units, I do not think the roof space can be divvied up in a rational, practical fashion such that all units below can enjoy a meaningful benefit from solar panels.

The California statutes' statements on this include:

(b) When reviewing a request to install a solar energy system on a multifamily common area roof shared by more than one homeowner pursuant to Sections 714 and 714.1, an association may impose additional reasonable provisions that:
(1)
(A) Require the applicant to submit a solar site survey... [see statute for rest]

(B) The solar site survey shall also include a determination of an equitable allocation of the usable solar roof area among all owners sharing the same roof, garage, or carport.


Since in many instances the required survey will result in an equitable allocation that yields only an impractical number for the square feet of roof space allowed per unit, many condo unit owner applications for solar systems will be dead-on-arrival.

LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1429


09/15/2021 5:20 PM  
It is a thought. If you want the solar to give you net metering credits to offset the use of the pool pumps and street lights, I say if you have the real estate for the panels, why not!!!

On the other hand EV charging stations are coming to condos, they ate going to need the electric infrastructure.

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