The process of evaluating your property for a solar project involves understanding your energy consumption, assessing electrical equipment, analyzing the roof’s solar potential, and considering land for carport or ground-mounted systems. Understanding what data you need to collect can help you avoid common pitfalls that crop up after a project is already underway.

Understanding Energy Consumption

The cornerstone of a successful solar project lies in understanding your energy consumption patterns. Utility bill summaries and interval data, typically in spreadsheet formats, showcase monthly energy consumption and costs. Understanding rate schedules also helps identify peak consumption times, offering opportunities to offset charges with solar.

Interval data makes this analysis more granular by capturing energy demand every hour or every 15 minutes. It's collected via electric meters, which can be accessed through online utility portals or third-party software. In some cases, UtilityAPI or direct utility requests facilitate data extraction.

Read the deep-dive to learn about each component of your electric bill: Preparing for a solar project: How to read your business's electrical bills

 

Assessing Electrical Equipment

A comprehensive inventory of electrical equipment is vital for confirming solar feasibility at your site. Gathering information about your single-line diagrams (SLD), electrical room layouts, main service panels (MSP), switchboards, meters, and transformers helps ensure that your solar system is properly designed.

The SLD offers a simplified graphical representation of the electrical system. Meters measure energy consumption and play a significant role in system design, especially when there are multiple on a given site. MSPs serve as the central distribution points for electrical loads. Switchboards and switchgears are distinct in their functionalities and capacities, influencing potential system upgrades. Understanding the locations and ratings of this equipment is crucial for accommodating solar loads.

Learn how each piece of electrical equipment influences your solar project's design: Preparing for solar: How to assess your electrical equipment

 

Analyzing Roof Solar Potential

Evaluating a roof’s potential for solar installation encompasses various factors: Roof type, slope, warranty, installation area, obstructions, and load limitations are pivotal in determining design and cost.

Roof warranties guarantee material quality and workmanship, influencing system design and installation. Identifying installation areas and potential obstructions, such as vents, skylights, or HVAC equipment, is crucial for system placement.

From a physical feasibility perspective, roof slope determines the installation method: Flat roofs may allow ballasted systems, while steep slopes may necessitate non-ballasted solutions. Understanding live and dead load limits ensures that the roof can accommodate additional weight from the solar installation.

Learn what makes a rooftop an ideal candidate for solar in the rooftop solar deep-dive: What to consider when planning a rooftop solar project

 

Considering Land for Ground-mount or Carport Systems

Evaluating the land for a ground-mount or carport installation involves understanding property boundaries, flood plains, environmental impacts, geotech reports, clearance heights, conduit/trenching runs, and user experience elements.

Property identification and floodplain checks ensure that the project site isn’t constrained by legal or environmental limitations. Environmental assessments evaluate impacts on wildlife, habitats, or cultural sites, vital for project compliance. Geotech reports analyze subsurface conditions, which is crucial for construction feasibility.

For carport systems, the clearance heights and design you choose will impact your parking lot's functionality. Attention to user experience elements like lighting and spacing enhances the usability of carport structures.

Learn more about these key factors ahead of your carport and ground-mounted solar project: How to assess your land for carport and ground-mounted solar

 

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