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City of San Jose - Solar Hot Water Heaters and Photovoltaic Systems Permit Requirements

Multi-Family Residential
Savings Category 
Program Info
Program Type 
Solar/Wind Permitting Standards
City of San Jose

Building, Planning and Electrical Permits are required for Photovoltiac (PV) systems installed in San Jose. In most cases, PV systems must also undergo a Building Plan Review and an Electrical Plan Review. Building Plan Reviews are not required for installations that meet all of the following criteria:

1. Total panel weight (including frame) is not greater than 5 lbs. per square foot.
2. Maximum concentrated load at each point of support does not exceed 40 lbs.
3. Maximum height above roof surface does not exceed 18 inches.
4. PV panels are installed on the rooftop
5. PV panels are not ballasted

If a Building Plan Review is required, a plan must be submitted showing existing roof framing and any proposed alteration along with panel support and bracing systems. For installations that do not require a Building Plan Review, a site plan showing the building's footprint and location of PV panels is required when applying for a building permit.

Electrical Plan Review for photovoltaic systems is required for all multi-family, commercial and industrial installations. Electrical Plan Review for single family and duplex installations will be offered if requested by the applicant or may be required by the Building Official based on complexity of installation.

The City does not collect the building permit tax (associated with most construction projects) on the construction or installation of solar energy generation equipment. If the project is larger than just the solar installation, regular permitting charges will apply to the rest of the project. Planning Site Adjustment Permits are required for commercial or industrial buildings and for residential buildings over two units. Single family residence and duplex do not require planning review. Planning adjustment permits can be obtained from planning staff assigned to the Building Division or from Planning Division.