Evaluating a Homeowner’s property and home to assess qualification for solar
Here, we will take a look at three particularly important items in qualifying a home for solar: Shading, Roof Condition, & Electrical Infrastructure, sharing examples of each. With approximately 70% of homes in the U.S. having solar potential, be sure to expand your knowledge around these qualifying components so you make the most efficient use of you and your customer’s time when qualifying solar leads, canvassing neighborhoods, and designing solar systems in the Clean.Tech app.
Proper analysis of shading, where solar will be installed on the roof is crucial when evaluating a suitable solar installation.
If Elli (our automated intelligence) is able to create a 3D solar design of the address and home, know that she will accurately predict how much electricity the solar system will produce, factoring in shading and the available sun hours. Elli makes it easy to predict the shade caused by surrounding trees and buildings when designing systems directly in the app. Take this house as an example. In the 3D view, you can touch and hold the sun to move it across the sky to see how shadows and shading affect the design.
If the app is unable to create a 3D solar design and prompts you to create a manual design, realize that it becomes incumbent on you as the customer’s solar consultant to properly account for possible shading and any resulting energy-production impacts. [We want to be hypersensitive here, as of course the customer is expecting us to assist them in designing, or qualifying, for them a system that truly produces their desired energy offset].
When using the Manual Solar Design Tool, be sure to be as accurate as possible with the tree builder feature to account for surrounding tree’s heights and circumference, to ensure Elli and the app are able to adequately and properly model the shading’s impact on solar system energy production.
If the homeowner has removed trees but they are still visible by Elli and the available overhead view, send us an image through Chat Support of the home indicating the trees that have been removed, along with annual kWh usage, and the desired offset percentage. With this information, we will work through a human designer to create a design for you to review and edit directly from your Clean.Tech dashboard. Be aware this process can take a few minutes, or up to 24 hours, to populate in your dashboard, so plan appropriately.
So, if your home experiences only a bit of shade throughout the day, don’t worry. Contrary to popular belief, a home and its panels don’t need to be perfectly situated in the sun all day to benefit from a solar system. Meanwhile, if the home is shaded for a majority of the day, it’s probably not a good idea to install solar panels without trimming or removing trees.
For more detailed information regarding shading, click here to better understand how to calculate and assess the impacts of shade using the height of surrounding trees and their distance from the home and proposed solar system.
Ahead of selecting what type of roof and roofing material the solar system will be installed on in the app, you will want to evaluate and confirm the overall health and age of the roof. You will want to do this to be confident the roof will accommodate the desired solar system, and to qualify and quantify if a re-roof should be considered by your customer.
If the roof is of a composition material, or has asphalt shingles, here are a few examples of physical signs of wear to look for that may necessitate greater conversation with your customer to confirm relative roof age and condition, alerting you to the possible need for a simultaneous roof replacement:
In addition to the condition of the existing roof where solar will be positioned, also look for wood rot and structural integrity of the home’s rafters, as these are important to accommodate the general weight of the solar system. This can best be seen by inspecting site photos provided by the customer, focusing on the soffit and facia, or the wood ‘overhang’ on the underside of the roof. When recognized, make your customer aware that this component of their solar project will be reviewed during a solar readiness assessment ahead of designing and permitting the project. Here are a few examples of physical signs of wear:
And, be aware solar can not be installed on wood shake roofing. So, be sure to incorporate a reroof into the system cost for these customers.
Every home has a main electrical panel that powers all of the electrical devices connected to the structure. The size of this electric panel, measured in an ‘amp rating’, along with the panel containing ample space for additional solar breakers will dictate the size of the solar system the home can accommodate. A good rule of thumb is that if your customer’s home has a panel with a 100 amp rating or lower that it’s quite possible what is termed a Main Panel Upgrade (MPU) may be required to handle the energy demands of the proposed system.
Here are examples of electrical panels requiring an upgrade: The first photo clearly shows a 100 amp rated panel (on the breaker switches & printed sticker on the door). The second photo illustrates a panel that does not have ample space to add breakers for the solar system:
The good news is main panel upgrades are commonplace, the downside is their cost can be up to $2,500* of added cost, i.e. an ‘adder’. So, definitely quantify this potential need so such costs can be included in project financing. Be sure to obtain and include good photos of the main panel in your Clean.Tech solar system proposal, and always feel free to share main panel photos with us in chat support to assess the need for upgraded electrical infrastructure.
* If you are part of Clean.Tech’s sales team, you do not need to include this adder cost in the Clean.Tech app. However, if you are a part of a third party sales team using the Clean.Tech app then definitely be sure to quantify and include this cost into app to avoid a reduction in commission if identified after your customer has signed their contract.
So to wrap up, it’s important to properly qualify the home when prospecting your solar installation projects. We want you to be as efficient as possible with your time developing good solar leads, and to be sure you are reviewing the home’s Shading, Roof Condition, and Electrical Infrastructure in this process. Please send us a message through chat support to discuss and questions you may have in qualifying your customer’s home for solar, as we are excited to assist you in determining and confirming if a specific home is a good candidate for a Clean.Tech solar system.