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Residential solar collectors

The City is working to make installing solar collection equipment easier, while respecting the interests of the community. The City has designed rules to allow citizens to use solar equipment, while ensuring the impact on adjacent neighbours is limited.

How to start an application?


Step 1: Determine your requirements

Use one of the Solar panel permit checklist to determine what requirements you’ll need before applying.

It is the property owner’s responsibility to calculate the system’s access to sunlight. This includes taking into account the surrounding plant life, your current neighbours and the eventual development of nearby areas.

Step 2: Prepare your application

To help you design your project, see the Illustrations of Codes and Bylaws section.

Fees

Planning Approval - Development Permit (prior to construction)

Permit fee Advertising fee Development Completion Inspection Total
Proposed land use bylaw relaxation for solar collectors $384 $32 $163 $579

See the planning applications fee schedule for a complete list of planning application fees.

Building Safety Approval - Building Permit

Permit fee Safety Codes Council Fee (4%) Total
Solar collectors $202 $8.08 $210.08

See the building permit fee schedule for a complete list of planning application fees.

Step 3: Apply

Apply online

To apply in person, complete the home improvement application and visit the Planning Services Centre with the documents from the checklist in Step 1.

Illustrations of Codes and Bylaws

Photovoltaic solar collector
Photovoltaic solar collector

Photovoltaic solar collectors, commonly known as solar panels, convert sunlight directly into electricity. The excess electricity may be stored in batteries or is exported into the main electrical utility system.

These solar collectors can only be wall- or roof-mounted.


Solar thermal collector

Solar thermal collectors convert radiant energy from the sun into thermal (hot water) energy, which is then transferred into your home heating system in the form of hot water and space heating. The heat from the exchanger will then heat the water inside the tank. Two common types of exchangers are single wall heat exchangers and double wall heat exchangers

Land Use Bylaw rules

A development permit is required to install a solar collector if it does not follow the rules of the Land Use Bylaw and it is not on The City’s inventory of potential heritage sites (refer to Section 25(1) (n) in the Land Use Bylaw). To determine your specific land use district, search your home address in the property information tool.

Note: It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the work being carried out conforms to any restrictive covenants, caveats or other restrictions that are registered on the land title.

Low density residential districts

A solar collector mounted on a wall:

  • Must be located a minimum of 2.4 m above grade; and
  • May project a maximum of
    • 5 m from the surface of that wall, when the wall is facing a rear property line; and
    • 6 m from the surface of that wall, in all other cases.

A solar collector mounted on a roof:

  • Must not extend beyond the outermost edge of the roof.
  • With a pitch of less than 4:12, may project:
    • A maximum of 0.5 m from the surface of a roof, when the solar collector is located 5.0 m or less from a side property line, measured directly south from any point along the side property line.
    • All other cases may project a maximum of 1.3 m from the surface of a roof.
  • With a pitch of 4:12 or greater may project a maximum of 1.3 m from the surface of a roof.

Please refer to Section 343.1 in the Land Use Bylaw.

Multi-residential districts

A solar collector mounted on a wall:

  • Must be located a minimum of 2.4 m above grade; and
  • May project a maximum of 0.6 m from the surface of that wall.

A solar collector mounted on a roof with a pitch of less than 4:12 may project from the surface of the roof:

  • A maximum of 2.0 m.
  • A minimum of 1.0 m from the edge of the roof.

A solar collector mounted on a roof with a pitch of 4:12 or greater may project a maximum of 1.3 m from the surface of the roof and must not extend beyond the outermost edge of the roof.

Please refer to Section 571.1 of the Land Use Bylaw.

Commercial, industrial and special purpose districts

A solar collector mounted on a wall:

  • Must be located a minimum of 2.4 m above grade; and
  • May project a maximum of 0.6 m from the surface of that wall.

A solar collector mounted on a roof with a pitch of less than 4:12 may project from the surface of the roof a maximum of 2.0 m.

A solar collector mounted on a roof with a pitch of 4:12 or greater may project a maximum of 1.3 m from the surface of the roof and must not extend beyond the outermost edge of the roof.

Please refer to Sections 699.1; 904.1; 1019.1 of the Land Use Bylaw.


Solar collector placement

Please note: If a development permit is required, it must be approved before you can apply for a building permit.

Electrical rules

  1. Photovoltaic collectors require an electrical permit and must be installed by a licensed and registered electrical contractor in Calgary. Solar installers are licensed electricians that have taken additional training to understand, design and install solar PV systems. In Alberta, installers must be certified electricians or registered apprentices working under the supervision of a certified electrician that comply with the Electrician Trade Regulation 274/2000 and Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act., and any applicable trade regulations.
  2. Some electricians have an additional solar-specific certification via CSA, CSI, the North American Practitioners, and NAIT Renewable Energy Program etc. This is not required of your installer, but electricians with such certification are available in Alberta, should you wish to hire one. Visit cansia.ca and solaralberta.ca/company-directory to find solar providers and learn more about solar installation.

Plumbing and gas rules

Single wall heat exchangers can be used where there are no chemicals or non-toxic chemicals added. Refer to CSA-B214 regarding installation codes for hydronic heating systems.

Double wall heat exchangers are required when toxic chemicals have been added and allows a visible means of leak detection. The chemicals must be compatible with the heat transfer fluid. Heat transfer liquid and heat exchangers must comply with code CSA-F379.1 (Alberta Government requirements for Solar Domestic Hot Water Systems).

Since there is wide selection of solar thermal systems, all installations must be must be a packaged system, designed by an accredited engineer and have stamped drawings and heat loss calculations included with the application. They will require a plumbing permit and follow the applicable codes stated in the National Plumbing Code of Canada, CAN/CSA codes F379.1-09 (Packaged solar domestic hot water systems) and CAN/CSA-F383 (Installation of packaged solar domestic hot water systems).


Simple packaged system

When is a development permit required?

If a development permit is required, this must be applied for and approved prior to building permit and solar permit applications. Solar photovoltaic systems (commonly known as a power generation facility) will require a development permit, if they do not follow the Land Use Bylaw rules. Solar thermal collectors do not generate electricity, so they are not considered a power generation facility and usually do not require a development permit.

Development permits

When is a building permit required?

A building permit may be required to install solar collectors if the solar collector is large (approximately 10 kg/m2), since the existing structure may not have been designed to hold the additional weight.

Please refer to the Sustainable Technologies Permitting Matrix for further information.

When is a solar trade permit required?

Solar permits are required for electrical, plumbing, gas or mechanical work and can only be submitted by specific qualified contractors. This work will be inspected by safety code officers to ensure code compliance.

Solar trade permits

Below are the specific contractor application requirements for solar collectors and fee schedules:

An electrical permit will also be required for thermal collectors, if pumps are required.

For inquiries regarding specific codes mentioned, please contact the Technical Assistance Centre.

Inspections

Electrical inspections

  • Submit the solar PV installation plans. Plans must be submitted before the onsite installation begins.
  • Install all solar collectors, mounting equipment, inverters and wiring.
  • Install all warning placards, wiring diagrams and system marking.
  • Access to the electrical panel that the solar PV system is connected to will be required for the inspection.
  • At least one inspection will be required to approve a residential solar PV system.
  • For more information on solar PV electrical inspections and permits, please contact the Technical Assistance Centre at 403-808-7066 or TAC@calgary.ca

Plumbing and gas inspections

  • Submit the solar thermal (hot water) plumbing plans.
  • A rough and final inspection will be required based on the installation manual of your specific system.

Mechanical inspections

  • Submit solar air installation plans. Plans must be submitted before the onsite installation begins.
  • At least one inspection will be required to approve a residential solar PV system.

Disclaimer: This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Calgary accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically.3