Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to our FAQ page. Below you’ll find a list of questions we get quite often. If you have a question not addressed below please contact us.

How is your service different than other remote design services?

Our reports consolidate information relevant to the solar transaction in a single, streamlined PDF. Unlike other services or tools (which are less precise or DIY), Bright Harvest reports provide data which is more accurate than on-site assessments and do not require clients to take time to learn any software or design elements. We have spent years perfecting our unique software which allows us to bring unprecedented accuracy and value to residential solar design.

Bright Harvest has the only remote solar design technology which has had it’s ability to accurately measure roof pitch, area, azimuth, and shading validated by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and numerous other agencies and companies.

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How do I decide if I should use Bright Harvest or a DIY tool?

If you only need rough estimates of module layouts, opt for DIY tools. If you require an industry-accepted shading analysis, roof measurements, tilt, azimuth and production estimates, Bright Harvest should be your choice.

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Why should I use Bright Harvest instead of doing a traditional site visit?

Four main reasons to incorporate Bright Harvest into your solar transaction:
1) Cost-effective
2) Saves time
3) Reduces risk
4) Streamlines and unifies the entire process

Bright Harvest reports save companies over 70% in soft costs! For example, traditional on-site assessment and designs, cost roughly $700 ($200 for a site visit, $100 for a site-plan, $400 for a system design)*. The cost increases with the difficulty of the house. However, Bright Harvest clients receive the same product for only $200. We also offer volume discounts which can save your company even more.

In addition to the amount of money you can save with us, consider all of the time it takes to complete an on-site assessment. You have to schedule a time for the assessment with homeowners, drive out to the site, get on the roof and take measurements, return to headquarters, to deliver measurements and data to the design team, to have that team create a site plan, schedule dates to install the system… and THEN after all of these steps, the designed system does not even fit! With Bright Harvest reports, we can deliver our complete report to you in as little as 24 hours. You can rest assured that our layouts will fit, because if they don’t, your report is free!

A single Bright Harvest report can benefit all stages of the residential solar transaction from customer acquisition, design teams, installation crews, and financiers. All parties can refer to the same information and will not have to worry about miscommunications of data, measurements, or design. Bright Harvest also reduces the multi-step assessment and design process into one seamless report. With Bright Harvest reports, you don’t have to worry about unifying the rough remote assessment, the detailed on-site assessment, and the layout design.

*Using data from a 2013 NREL study

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Do Bright Harvest Reports have any limitations?

Unfortunately, we are unable to tell the type of roof framing to determine if the load of the system will be supported. We cannot plan for the system’s interconnection. However, this information can be collected without accessing the roof and by simply taking photos.

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How accurate are your reports?

A recent NREL study has found Bright Harvest’s remote solar site assessment and shading analysis service provides accuracy equivalent to traditional on-site tools and methods. Additionally, our shading analysis assesses site conditions at a per-module resolution for every solar location on the roof where a module will fit. This allows us to optimize for the best possible location of modules.

Clients who have performed on-site assessments remark that our remote design approach is often more accurate than manual on-site assessments. This is may be due to human error associated with the difficulty of taking various measurements needed for each site, miscommunication when giving data to a PV designer or drafter within the company, drafting a system layout from a hand drawn map of the site, and attempting to accurately place PV modules in order to minimize shading and avoid obstructions. Our process eliminates these sources of error and allow us to quickly deliver an accurate design.

 

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Can I use the 2D plan view page for permitting?

Our plan view page can be used for permitting as a site plan or system layout page. Drafting an accurately measured roof and site plan is often the most time consuming part of the permit package. However, some AHJ’s may have other requirements.

 

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Do you also do single-line diagrams?

We do not offer single line diagrams. Depending on your AHJ’s requirements, you may be able to use standardized tools such as this one.

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What if the layout doesn’t fit?

If our proposed module layout doesn’t fit, resulting in a system that cannot be installed without reducing the system size, we will refund the cost of the report. Although extremely rare, we recognize the possibility exists that we might miss roof vents that are painted the same color as the roofing. In most cases, installers have been able to make the needed adjustments to the layout without having to reduce the system size.

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What do the percentage numbers on the modules mean?

Pages 3 and 7 of our report (see our sample report for reference) show annual shading derate factors for each individual module. A module displaying “90%” means that a module at that location on the roof will receive 10% less solar energy than an unshaded module with the same tilt and azimuth at the same latitude and longitude. Be careful when comparing modules on different roof pitches. A module with a 95% shading derate factor on a south facing pitch will usually produce more annual kWh than a module with a 99% shading derate factor on an east facing pitch.

 

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How do I interpret the numbers on the system performance page?

The percentages shown under “Shading Analysis” on pages 4 and 8 are comparable to the monthly and annual shading numbers you would get from conventional shade measurement devices. The “Production Estimate” section displays production in kWhs per array, both shaded and unshaded. This allows you to compare the impact of shading on production as well as compare the production of different arrays against each other. At the bottom of the page the system derate factors (based on site conditions and equipment) are shown next to PVWatts standard defaults.

 

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Can I use your reports for performance guarantees?

We stand behind the quality of our product, but there are limitations beyond our direct control which make our reports unsuitable for contractual PV performance guarantees. Performance depends on how and where on the roof the system is installed. We cannot verify if the system is installed as designed. As-built measurements of any installed system should be used for this purpose.

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How do you layout a system remotely and estimate its production?

If you’ve ever used Google Earth to measure the distance between two points on a map, you are already familiar with the basics of photogrammetry. Using aerial photographs to accurately measure roofs has been a common practice in the roofing and insurance industries for years. We have adapted these measurement techniques to the requirements of residential solar PV system design. By combining information from multiple photographs of the site from different angles, we create a detailed 3D model including on-roof and off-roof shading obstructions. We then use this 3D model to assess the shading derate factor of every potential PV module location by analyzing when that spot will be shaded throughout the year.

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What if I need a revision?

For clients new to our service, one free revision is included with each of your first 10 orders. This allows clients to learn how to customize each order so we can meet their projects goal the first time. We also understand that some projects may require one or more revisions. Additional revisions are billed at $100/hour, billed in 15 minute increments.

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