If you want to know more about utilizing solar energy collection systems, here is a quick guide on how to get started.
Step 1. Is my property right for solar panels?
To find out if you have room for solar panels on your roof or land, if the property has enough exposure to the sun, and potential costs and savings go to the Metro Kansas City Solar Map.
- Solar panels are best installed on a southern exposure, however some east or west exposures might be acceptable.
- For optimal energy collection, solar panels should not be shaded between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Shading can include trees, chimneys, TV antennas, satellite dishes, dormers and gables.
- The amount of space needed for a solar energy collection system is based on the output and type of system.
- The typical residential system is between 4-5 kilowatts in size and costs from $14,000 to $18,000. A 30 percent federal tax credit is available to homeowners and businesses through 2016.
Step 2. Check the local requirements for installing solar panels
- Solar energy collection systems are permitted in all zoning districts in the city limits of Shawnee with approval of permits. The City does not protect nor guarantee a property owner’s access to sunlight.
- If you live in an area with a homeowner's association, verify that solar panels are allowed and if additional approvals are required, like from an Architectural Review Committee.
- Solar panels may be roof-mounted or ground-mounted in all zoning districts. Panels may also be mounted on parking lot light poles.
- Site Plan approval by the Planning Commission is required in certain circumstances within commercial and industrial zoning districts.
- Height and setback requirements vary depending on where the panels are mounted and whether in residential or commercial zoning districts.
- See Zoning Regulations Section 17.80.200. Solar Energy Collection Systems
Step 3. Get quotes from multiple installers
As with any large purchase, it is a good idea to get quotes from multiple installers before making a decision. If possible, get at least three quotes so you can compare and contrast what installers have to offer.
Be sure that all of the bids you receive are for the same type of equipment. Comparing a bid for a system mounted on the ground to one for a rooftop system is like comparing apples to oranges. Also, some types of solar panels generate more electricity per square foot than others.
Bids should clearly state:
Ask each installer for customer references and contact information.
- Maximum generating capacity of the system (measured in watts or kilowatts).
- Estimate of the amount of energy the system will produce on an annual basis (measured in kilowatt-hours).
- System capacity in AC watts, or the output of the system at the inverter.
- All costs, including hardware, installation, connection to the grid, permitting, sales tax and warranty.
- Warranties and performance guarantees.
All contractors working within Shawnee should have a valid business license with the City. Contact the City Clerks Department at (913) 742-6014 to verify their license status.
Mid-America Regional Council has a list of local installers and utility information to help.
Mid-America Regional Council Consumer Guide to Solar
Kansas City Power & Light Solar Information
Westar Energy Solar Information
Database of Renewable and Efficiency Policies and Incentives
Contact our Codes Division by email or at (913) 742-6014.