One of the most common tasks we have as solar energy consultants is determining the number of solar panels that will fit on a roof and the best layout for panels. Before ever visiting the site we start with some tools to do a basic layout using whatever resources are available. These can include aerial imagery from online mapping providers, property appraiser websites, and architectural plans provided to us in paper or electronic format.
These resources only paint part of the picture, which is why we ask about trees and other obstructions that may shade or prevent installation of solar panels on a given roof face. We look at orientation and roof pitch to find the best roofs for the solar technology being contemplated. We also ask about location of existing equipment (for example, pool equipment, utility meter, or water heater). Then we get to work preparing a three dimensional computer model of the building, which provides the most accurate sizing we can get without actually setting foot on the roof.