Consulting & Design

Consulting & Design

How to Get Started

Want a solar panel system at the lowest cost?

Like any home improvement project, successful completion is based on a good design plan. As the old construction adage says, it is better to measure twice, and cut only once.

A PV or photovoltaic solar panel system design will be required to obtain permit approval from the local building department, as well as permission to operate by the local utility.

Anyone can design a solar system. You can Do-It-Yourself (DIY) or hire us. A solar design is provided at no charge with the solar kits offered by Sunwatts, 5 kW or greater. SunWatts Solar Designs help you avoid mistakes, and make an informed, unbiased decision to find the best system at the lowest cost.

4 Step Solar Design Process

A good design follows four easy steps, beginning with gathering all the requirements for the project. A bad design starts with specific brands, solar panels, or inverters. Here is a list of the topics covered in a professional solar design.

Step 1: Project Requirements

✔ Analysis or estimate of monthly energy use (kWh) and costs for most recent 12 months

✔ Assessment of roof or property site, including dimensions, shading, obstructions, slope, tilt, azimuth direction toward Sun, local snow load, wind speed, and exposure category

✔ Evaluation of current electrical setup, including the location and size of circuit breaker box(s) and existing wires

✔ Review of local permit or utility requirements, including homeowner association HOA

✔ Owner requirements for aesthetics or location of the system

Step 2: System Size and Layout

✔ Solar PV system sizing options (e.g. how many watts of solar are needed now and desired in the future)

✔ Estimated solar energy production scenarios (e.g. how many kWh or kilowatts hours will be produced using PVwatts)

✔ Solar array site plan, including the location of all components

✔ Design layout options and preliminary engineering for rooftop or ground mount configuration

Step 3: Compare Solar Panel Systems

✔ Solar panel and inverter compatibility options

✔ Best price wholesale cost estimates for all equipment from your choice of manufacturers

✔ Easily compare systems side-by-side to evaluate price, performance, quality and compatibility

✔ Tax credit, rebate, and incentive summary

✔ Calculate expected payback, lifetime savings, and ROI

Step 4: Final Plan

✔ Site plan, including the location of all components and setbacks

✔ Electrical specifications, single-line drawing - wiring diagram, with NEC required labels and calculations

✔ Engineering specifications for layout and mounting with all required calculations

✔ Product specifications for solar panels, inverters, mounting and electrical components

✔ Final purchase order and list of materials

✔ 10 to 20 page Solar PV System Permit Plan, printable on 11x17 paper

✔ OPTIONAL: Electrical or structural engineer review and stamps as required by building department or utility.