What Is PTO In Solar?

Last Updated on July 11th, 2023

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PTO in solar is the permission to operate. This permission to operate your solar setup is designated by your area’s utility company and the government. 

It is the last step in the process of setting up that verifies everything has been done correctly and the power grid is ready to compensate for the new addition. However, this process can take some time. 

Many people grow tired of waiting and then try to break the rules, but some consequences come with that. Keep reading to find out why PTO is so important and why you should wait to receive it before operating. 

Man with a drill machine working with solar panels - What Is PTO In Solar?

What Does it Mean?

PTO in solar power stands for permission to operate. Permission to operate is the final step in setting up your solar panels and connecting them to the power grid. The PTO is the local government and utilities giving the go-ahead to finish your solar setup.

PTO is the last step in solar because the government and utilities have checked everything. But first, they have to make sure that all your paperwork is filled out and filed correctly.

They also have to check your equipment setup and its connectivity to the grid. After that, they sign the PTO to let you know you are all clear to start using your solar. 


Can You Turn on My Solar Before PTO?

Yes, you can technically turn on your solar before PTO. Solar can connect to the grid and produce power even before your PTO is approved. 

This is usually for testing purposes. This allows whoever is maintaining your equipment to ensure that it is all working and running properly. However, that is the only reason your solar should be on before being granted PTO. 

Most places state that you should only run it for testing purposes, but most people tend to just use the system anyway. Most people tend not to see any consequences or pushback and use the system for months before finally receiving PTO. 


How long does PTO take for Solar?

How long it takes to get PTO for your solar system depends greatly on the utility company and area. Especially after COVID-19, many areas are understaffed, and it can take a very long time in certain areas.

On average, it should only take a week or two. The average is about ten days after the request to receive PTO. However, in some areas, especially more busy or understaffed ones, people report it taking as long as six months. Research your area to find out more. 


Can You Turn on Solar without PTO?

As stated earlier, yes, solar can be turned on without PTO. Many people are tempted to do this, especially with how long it can take to receive PTO in certain areas. However, while it seems to be rare, consequences can occur and can be severe.

People can receive very large fines in many places if they discover they are using solar without PTO because it has not been cleared yet. When it has not been cleared, it could be unsafe and mess up the entire power grid. 

Another reason you should not turn on solar without PTO is people often say they do not get kickbacks for the power they put in the grid during this time. Some also report being double-billed. So, all in all, it’s a bad idea. 


What Should You Do if There is no PTO?

You should probably just wait if there is no PTO for your solar setup. While many people who break these rules never get caught and say they never see any consequences, others do. 

Any mistakes in your setup or anything that needs to be changed could mess up the entire power grid. But, even beyond that, it is not always worth it for personal gain, either. 

You could be losing out on kickbacks or spending more money than needed. Just wait until you have the PTO to be safe rather than sorry. 


Final Thoughts on What Is Pto In Solar

Setting up a solar panel system is a long and exhausting process. However, when you finally reach the end after paying every expense and spending many months setting it all up, all that is left is the PTO. 

The frustrating thing is that all you need is that permission, and you are clear. But, this clearance can take a very long time. You may grow impatient and want to go around it altogether. 

Remember, though, that this can be dangerous or harmful to yourself and others. You have made it this far, so wait out the last step before finishing up your system and powering on. 

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