Site Surveys and Preplanning
Preliminary assessment addresses many fundamental questions during the survey weather or not a PV system is feasible. These include the needs and concerns of the customer, available solar resource, the environmental conditions, and the structural and electrical requirements. When identifying these factors begins the surveying process which will influence all other system design and installation tasks, including selecting equipment, preparing bids, conductions value assessments, and planning and completing installations.
Salespersons, designers and installers of PV systems will identify customer needs, concerns, and expectations. This will give them the opportunity to explain the types of systems and their costs, functions, and performance. Costs and funding are usually of concern, this is where the resources for funding significant portions of the PV system will addressed. This includes financing options, state and federal government incentives and the exchange of renewable energy credits.
The installer will research the available solar resource to determine optimal array orientation, consider average weather conditions and potential for severe weather. They will also investigate the local building codes and utility interconnection requirements. Site surveys are conducted by observing, photographing, measuring, documenting and diagramming applicable site conditions related to a PV installation. Various equipment is used to conduct site surveys such as the Sun PathfinderTM and Solmetric SunEyeTM, to conduct shading analyses on potential array locations. Potential array locations must have sufficient space for the estimated array area while still obtaining an adequate orientation. Locations of the array and other equipment will be assessed and adjusted to satisfy the customers preference and needs at the same time allowing optimal accessibility, structural integrity, and existing electrical infrastructure. When sizing a PV system an energy audit will be conducted and reveal magnitudes, patterns of energy and measure energy conservation to improve the value of the system and reduce overall energy requirements.