What to Expect: Your HOA and Solar Panels
October 18, 2021
If you’re a homeowner living in a community governed by a homeowners association (HOA), you’re one of about 40 million households in the United States that are members of an HOA.
HOAs are private entities created either by a real estate company or a group of homeowners in a particular community. An HOA’s role is to manage the homes belonging to members of the association for marketing and sales purposes.
Solar panel installations are one of the many factors that HOAs may try to control. So, if you want to acquire solar panels in the future, you’ll benefit from learning about any restrictions that might affect your installation.
Here, we’ll explore state-specific HOA restrictions on solar panels to help you stay informed as a homeowner.
Can My HOA Stop Me From Installing Solar Panels?
Under solar access laws, HOAs are legally prohibited from preventing their members from installing a solar panel system on their property. The government put these laws in place to encourage more homeowners to purchase solar panels and use renewable energy sources.
[Related: Where to Install Solar Panels]
HOA Restrictions on Solar Panels
Although HOAs cannot prohibit their members from installing solar panels, homeowners must abide by some restrictions as members.
Each state is different when it comes to HOA restrictions under solar access laws. However, most states require homeowners to get approval from their HOA before starting an installation project.
Solar Access Laws by State
Texas Solar Access Law
Thanks to the Texas Senate Bill (Texas House Bill 362), HOAs and property owner associations (POAs) can’t outright deny the installation of a solar energy device as long as the device matches Texas’s definition, as seen in Texas Tax Code Section 171.107.
Here are Texas’s HOA rules for solar devices under the state’s solar access laws:
- The HOA must approve an installation before it starts.
- All system elements must be in silver, bronze or black tones.
- Installation methods must help maintain an active warranty.
- Ground-mounted systems can’t reach above the homeowner’s fence.
- A solar panel system can’t be higher than a roofline or unparallel to its slope.
- The homeowner can’t install solar panels in a subdivision of a shared property.
- The panels can’t risk public health and safety or be illegal (Texas Tax Code Section 171.107).
Texas HOAs can also select the installation location for panels on a homeowner’s roof. However, if a homeowner doesn’t agree with the location, they can suggest an alternate one. However, they must prove the placement will generate 10% more energy than the original HOA suggestion using a modeling tool from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
[Related: What Is the Best Roof for Solar Panels?]
Colorado Solar Access Law
Similarly, Colorado law (C.R.S. 38-30-168) forbids HOAs from outright restriction of solar device installation. However, a few exceptions give HOAs more control over approving your solar panel system and how you install it.
Colorado’s HOA rules for solar devices include these specifics:
- Appearance provisions that don’t significantly increase home cost or decrease its efficiency
- Safety requirements that protect the people on the property and the property itself
- Installation provisions — solar panels cannot be on property that the installer doesn’t own, such as the following:
- Property owned by a different person
- Leased property (the lessor must grant permission)
- Commercial loan collateral without a secured party’s permission
- Common property owned by the affiliated HOA
Each HOA has its own level of leniency, but based on Colorado’s HOA restrictions, the state tries its best to make the transition to solar easy for residents. Limiting HOA control of solar installations allows more homeowners to go solar in a shorter time.
Florida Solar Access Law
Florida Statute 163.04 prohibits preventing Florida homeowners from installing solar panel systems on their properties.
Here are Florida’s HOA restrictions for solar devices under the state’s solar access laws:
- The solar panels must orient south or 45 degrees east or west of true south.
- HOAs can determine the location of a roof installation as long as it doesn’t affect the system’s efficacy.
- The system can’t risk public health, safety or welfare.
House Bill 697 expanded Florida’s solar access law by allowing condominium boards to install solar panel systems on their properties without approval from unit owners. But the bill also allows unit owners to install panels on their own condos, regardless of the board’s actions.
[Related: Guide to Solar Panels]
The Role of Solar Easements
Solar easements are voluntary agreements created by individual homeowners or a governing body such as an HOA. Agreeing to specific factors can help promote the installation of solar panel systems in a neighborhood.
Some solar easements might address trimming trees to prevent sunlight obstruction or restricting building additions to homes that might shade too much of a property and affect solar power generation.
Solar easements are especially important if you live in a fast-growing neighborhood where construction is booming or new owners are moving in. However, they’re useful for any neighborhood where property owners are concerned with ample solar power generation.
Depending on where you live, you can receive protection from your state when negotiating solar easements with your HOA and neighbors. The more progressive a state is in the renewable energy sector, the more protection you’ll usually have.
Navigating Your HOA, Solar Panels and Energy Independence
Now that you’re aware of HOA restrictions on solar panels, you can begin your journey in harnessing solar power.