In the wake of the current pandemic and the country switching to virtual meetings and contact-less delivery, you may be wondering why we can’t or won’t do virtual solar site evaluations. Like the rest of the world, we have had to adapt in response to our new reality and have made changes to ensure that our customers and our staff remain healthy. We only enter customer homes when necessary, we wear masks when in the vicinity of others, and have instituted new cleaning protocols. One thing we have not changed is the quality of service we offer. While we can, and do, gather a lot of information virtually, there is critical information we gather during a site evaluation. That critical information is what allows us to design the best solar array for your home or business. Here we look at what is involved during an in-person solar site evaluation.
During solar site evaluation we want to determine which areas on your property would make a “good” solar site. A “good” solar site is determined by a few factors. Generally, areas that experience minimal shading and face the equator (for us in Vermont, that is South), have the best solar resource.
To calculate these factors, we rely on a state-of-the-art tool called the SunEye 210. This SunEye 210, made by Solmetric, takes a series of measurements at each potential solar site, and provides us with much of the information we need in determining where we should build a solar array.
To do this, the SunEye takes a fisheye image of the skyline and superimposes a Sun Path Diagram to identify any shade-causing obstructions that would interfere with the amount of energy an array would be able to produce. Not only is the SunEye able to project the angle of the sun as it moves throughout the day, but it also projects the change in the sun’s location in the sky throughout the seasons. The SunEye then instantly calculates how much the shading would impact the efficiency of the solar panels.
While you may think it easy to identify shading in an area, it can sometimes be quite tricky. For example, our Solar Consultant, Scott Stahler, described a time during a site evaluation when a house did not seem to have any shade in the vicinity to cause obstructions. Upon using the SunEye, he realized that the potential solar site had significant shading from nearby mountains during parts of the day and year! While a mountain is not an obstruction that could be removed, if shade is coming from nearby trees, the SunEye can help determine whether tree removal is worthwhile by simulating what the solar resource would be when they are gone.
If it turns out that your first-choice location for a future solar site is less than ideal, we can identify other potential sites. Often, people have ideal solar locations that they have not thought of. For example, perhaps there is an accessory building such as a barn, garage or guest house that can be used.
Or, you may have ideal land for a ground mount and not even realize it. We can help identify and evaluate multiple potential solar array locations.
We will also take roof and/or ground measurements to calculate the number of solar modules that can physically be installed. In this way, we can compare the size of the array and its anticipated generation with our evaluation of your current and future electricity consumption. For example, plans to install heat pumps or purchase an electric or hybrid vehicle will impact your usage. Look for a future blog post that will explain the methodology we use to design the array to fit your needs.
After we take all the measurements and gather the information we need, we will take some time to draw up a proposal for your future solar array. We custom design each system to meet your energy needs and ensure you will be happy with your array for years to come. If you have questions, or would like a solar evaluation done on your property, Contact Us today!