Residential Solar Installation
- Solar photovoltaic (PV) installations must comply with the Minnesota State Building Code.
- A building permit and electrical permit are required for all solar PV installations.
- Ground mounted solar arrays are not allowed in Arden Hills at this time.
Roof-mounted solar PV systems add weight and snow-drift loads to the roof. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) and Minnesota Department of Commerce developed a standardized load table to help determine if the roof structure of wood-framed buildings is sufficient to handle the additional weight of solar PV systems (refer to the DLI Standardized Load Tables for PV Installations). Permit applicants can use the standardized load table report to demonstrate structural compliance without consultation by a structural engineer.
What is your solar potential?
If residents are curious to see if their property has solar potential, the University of Minnesota has a solar assessment tool: solar.maps.umn.edu/app.
Which solar PV system installations need to comply with Section 3113 of the 2020 Minnesota State Building Code (Minnesota Rule 1305)?
Buildings classified as IRC-1, IRC-2, IRC-3, and IRC-4 are regulated by the Minnesota Residential Code (Minnesota Rule 1309). When the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC) was adopted to serve as the model code for the 2015 Minnesota Residential Code, Chapter 23 "Solar Energy Systems," was intentionally deleted.
What are some of the more common provisions contained in Section 3113 of the Minnesota State Building Code?
Solar PV arrays are limited to 150 feet in any direction. Residential buildings, such as apartments, are not required to have an access pathway around the perimeter of the building but must have 3- foot-wide pathways from the eave to ridge or peak if the roof slope exceeds a 2:12 pitch. Review this section for specific access pathway requirements. There are no access requirements for residential buildings with roofs having slopes less than a 2:12 pitch.
Photovoltaic systems shall be designed and installed in accordance with Sections IBC 1505.8, 1511, 1509.7 and NFPA 70. Inverters shall be listed and labeled in accordance with UL 1741. Systems connected to the utility grid shall use inverters listed for utility interaction manufacturer’s installation instructions.
Photovoltaic panels and modules shall be listed and labeled in accordance with UL 1703. Inverters shall be listed and labeled in accordance with UL 1741. Systems connected to the utility grid shall use inverters listed for utility interaction.
For specific code requirements, please contact the Building Inspection Division. Questions regarding design and cost should be referred to a professional builder or architect.
Resources for Solar Rebates and Incentives
Sales tax exemption
When you install solar panels on your home in Minnesota, you don’t have to pay any sales tax on your solar purchase. Considering that state sales tax is nearly 7 percent, the sales tax exemption means major solar savings.
Net metering in Minnesota
With so many solar incentives floating around, it may be easy to forget about one of the best ones out there that will apply to any Minnesota homeowner: net metering. All residential-sized PV installations qualify to receive solar bill credits for sending their energy back to the grid. Xcel Energy offers the top utility net metering program in Minnesota.
Xcel Energy Program
Powered by the Minnesota Renewable Development Fund, this performance-based incentive offers solar homeowners in Xcel Energy’s service area a yearly payment based on the energy production of their photovoltaic system. Xcel pays homeowners $0.08 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of solar power production annually for up to 10 years.
This lottery-based rebate will cover almost the entirety of your MN solar installation if you’re chosen as a lucky recipient. SolarSense pays up to 60 percent of the price of installation for any qualified solar homeowner under the utility of Minnesota Power. Check out the requirements for system size, system type, and installer to see if you qualify for this amazing solar incentive.
The federal solar tax credit
With the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), you can reduce the cost of your PV solar energy system by 26 percent. Keep in mind that the ITC applies only to those who buy their PV system outright (either with a cash purchase or solar loan), and that you must have enough income for the tax credit be meaningful. More information on the federal tax credits can be found on Energy Star’s website and DSIRE, operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.
Incentives for solar adoption on commercial properties
The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program is a way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy retrofits to eligible non-residential properties.
For more information and resources, visit Ramsey County’s Solar Resources page.