Consulting & Design
How to Get Started
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START SOLAR DESIGN
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.
Helpful Solar Design Links
Here are links to more information about some of the detailed steps to complete a solar design.
- How to calculate the solar system size, How many watts do I need?
- How to evaluate a location for solar panels?
- How to measure a roof for solar panels
- How to Measure the best tilt, pitch or slope for Solar Panels
- NEC Code rules to connect a PV solar panel system
- NEC Code rules in effect
- What is the best solar panel for my project?
- String vs. Micro-Inverters: Which is the Best?
- Ground mount or solar carport design
- Solar for New Construction Projects
- Solar Plans and Permitting Checklist
- Residential solar design
- Commercial solar design
- Off-grid solar design
- Tips How To Design SolarEdge PV Systems
- How much does a solar panel system cost?
- How to Install Solar Panels
- Solar Panel Installation Checklist
- What is the difference between watts (W), kilowatts (kW), & kilowatt-hours (kWh)?
- How do solar panels generate electricity?