Can My HOA Stop Me From Installing Solar Panels?



Can My HOA Stop Me From Installing Solar Panels?

Row of townhomes facing each other

More homes and companies are switching to solar energy due to its numerous benefits, such as reducing your carbon footprint and electricity bill. Not all localities, however, make solar panel installation simple. If your property is part of a homeowners association, you might ask, “Can my HOA stop me from installing solar panels?”

Here’s what you should know.

Are HOAs Allowed to Ban Solar Panels?

The short answer is that it depends on where you reside. Some states have yet to enact laws safeguarding solar access rights, allowing HOAs wide latitude in permitting panel installation. An HOA may also prohibit solar if state approval is required and your project is refused.

The good news is that your HOA can’t legally stop solar panel installation on your home in California. Thanks to laws like the Solar Rights Act and California Solar Mandate, residents shouldn’t have much trouble switching to renewable energy. However, HOAs can still place some restrictions like how panels should be installed or where to put them.  

Even if your HOA can’t stop you from installing solar panels, you’ll likely need to notify your association before installation and submit all requirements. Make sure to check with them to know more about your regulations and the steps to take.  

Why Do HOAs Try to Ban Solar Panels?

HOA and solar panels still don’t mix in many communities, mostly because of aesthetic concerns. Many association boards consider the panels as a hindrance to the pre-planned uniformity of their neighborhoods. They believe that this can negatively affect their standard of appearance and lower their home values. Nevertheless, federal and state laws override HOA rules.

However, keep in mind that historic districts may have the right to restrict solar panel installations to preserve the character and status of historic properties. Most of the time, residents must make concessions to lessen the visual impact of solar systems. This may include placing panels on rear-facing rooftops or flat roofs.

What Are Solar Access Laws?

Laws protecting your right to generate your own electricity, like the California Solar Rights Act, mainly fall under solar access laws and solar easements. 

Generally, solar access laws safeguard your right to install solar panels on your roof and allow HOAs to place only reasonable restrictions. For instance, while you can have a solar system, your HOA may request you to keep electrical wiring concealed.   

Even if it’s illegal to forbid residents from producing their own power, HOA restrictions on solar panels can sometimes make the system more expensive or less effective. Under the law, HOAs can’t impose restrictions that significantly increase system cost or decrease its efficiency. 

Unlike solar access laws, solar easements are voluntary. They are agreements you can make with your HOA or neighbors to protect your access to sunlight. In California, local governments can require solar easements in subdivisions. You are also allowed to negotiate with your neighbors to prevent obstructions that would cast shade on your panels. Just remember that solar easements must be in writing and is subject to the consent of your neighbor.

Find the Best Solar Strategy for You

At this point, you should be clear on whether your HOA can stop you from installing solar panels. However, Current Home can give you even more insight into your local guidelines. Contact us today to ask your solar energy-related questions and learn more about our outstanding energy solutions.