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Solar Collector Systems

A building permit to install solar collector systems with a face area equal to or greater than 5 m² on any building except as provided below. Solar collectors consist of either photovoltaic systems used in the production of electricity or solar thermal collectors used for air or water. “Face area” of a collector system is considered the aggregate area of all panels or modules, either in a series or an array, mounted on a building.

A building permit is required to ensure that the building is capable of supporting the additional weight of the panels and connection systems, wind and applicable snow loads. The design of solar collector systems and the on-site field review of their installation must be undertaken by a professional engineer licensed in the Province of Ontario.

Solar collector systems used for electrical / heat generation mounted on low rise residential buildings may be exempt from obtaining a building permit provided;

  • the system is flush mounted and installed within close proximity of the roof surface (ballast or non-fixed racking attachments to the roof are not permitted),
  • the existing roof has been assessed by a Professional Engineer licensed in the Province of Ontario and is deemed to be in good structural condition, without deterioration, missing or broken members and is capable of supporting the panels and connection system in all directions including the additional weight of the solar panels, wind loads and snow loads as applicable.

Although a building permit may not be required it is important to ensure that the solar panels are installed using a pre-engineered fixed connection racking system in compliance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions for the specific use and roof type and that the installation is reviewed by a professional engineer. Steps should be taken to reduce the uncontrolled sliding of snow and ice from panels in close proximity to roof edges.

Mounting

You can install solar collectors to your building using a variety of configurations:

  • Panels may be flush-mounted using brackets or racks that attach directly into the wall or roof framing system.
  • Angled supporting systems may also be utilized to further optimize the orientation of the panel to the sun using engineered racking structures.
  • Elevated racking systems may also be used on flat or low-slope roofs attached to the roof using fixed or ballast connections.

Development Information Officers

A Development Information Officer (DIO) can advise on zoning regulations impacting your addition design; such as setbacks to lot lines, lot coverage, and building height. If you require the services of a Development Information Officer, please call 613-580-2424, ext. 23434 or dioinquiry@ottawa.ca

Approximate cost

Refer to Applicable Fees

The building permit fee is based on valuation of the proposed construction, which includes the total cost of all materials, labour, equipment, overhead and related services (ie. design and consulting services) assigned to the supply and installation of the system and any building modifications.

Approximate timeline

Approximate Timeline based on City Council approved enhanced service level:

  • First review - 5 business days for residential buildings
  • First review - 10 business days for large residential and commercial buildings

The design and on-site general review of all solar collector systems shall be undertaken by a Professional Engineer licensed in the Province of Ontario. All submissions for permit shall include the following:Application for a Permit to Construct or Demolish

  • Application form for a Permit to Construct or Demolish
  • Applicable Fee
  • Two complete sets of plans and specifications that are legible and drawn to conventional scale
  • A roof plan or wall elevation indicating the layout and spacing of the solar collectors
  • Typical cross-section including but not limited to panel dimensions, row spacing, overall system height, tilt angle and other pertinent information
  • Type and location of ballast and / or anchorage points, including anchorage details to existing structure
  • Framing reinforcing details for the building structure where applicable
  • Confirmation that all existing structural members and connections affected by the proposed solar system installation have been reviewed for all applicable loads (including lateral loads) and meet (with upgrading works where applicable) the objectives of the Ontario Building Code
  • Confirmation that the solar panels and their connections (to include manufacturer and model number) are structurally adequate to resist all the applicable loads
  • Confirmation that the racking system (to include manufacturer and model number) is structurally adequate to resist the applied loads
  • Solar panels used for the production of heat for water must include mechanical drawings (plumbing schematic) detailing any connection to the potable water system
  • Completion of supplementary checklist Solar Collector Checklist for Part 3 Buildings [ PDF - 32 KB ] for the installation of solar collector systems on large buildings. Electrical permits and or inspections are available from the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) may also be required where there are electrical connections as part of the system

When the installation is complete, then your work must be inspected to ensure that the construction complies with the Ontario Building Code. The permit plans and specifications must be on site and made available to the Building Inspector at the time of inspection. To ensure the availability of a Building Inspector, you should book your inspection 48 hours in advance. The Building Inspector name and phone number is identified on the building permit. Failure to have the appropriate inspection performed may result in Orders issued.

Effective June 7, 2021, Building Code Service counters at Ben Franklin Place and City Hall will reopen for personal service by appointment only. This includes the submission of permit applications, payment of fees and the issuance of permits.

There are various methods for submitting applications.

Application Forms: Application for a Permit to Construct or Demolish