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Solar could save your business millions – if you dodge these traps

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Thinking of going solar?

There’s no mistaking that solar energy is making a wave in the industrial and commercial worlds. In the US, the commercial sector saw a huge 19% growth from the previous year (SEIA.org).

Even so, there are crucial considerations for facility managers before installing solar panels on property assets. It wouldn't be a wise move to rush into your solar program without looking into whether your buildings are structurally able to support them. Faults in the structural integrity of the roof can sabotage solar panel efficiency, racking up monumental costs.

Here are some common positive perceptions of solar, but whether these benefits manifest depends on how you go about it - there are also risks that can counter the perceived upsides, if not done properly:

There's no ignoring the significant risks that can come with installing solar panels.

You're adding weight to the roof, which could cause sagging. You're penetrating the roof sheets with hundreds of brackets -if drilled in the wrong spot, this could result in leaks, or worsen an existing defect in the integrity of your roof. What's more, adding solar panels could change how degradation is occurring, resulting in negative impacts on the asset itself.

But don't worry - there's groundwork you can do to avoid these mishaps and future-proof the quality of your solar panels, without lifting a finger.

Let's take a look at the lifecycle of solar installation and management - these crucial steps will ensure success and prevent a nasty shock down the line.

Pre-installation - preparation

1. Structural analysis

First things first - you want to get an idea of the current condition of your roof, and assess the suitability for solar panels. A digital twin can be used as well as data to analyze how and where solar panels could be installed on-site.

A defect register and dilapidation report should be compiled to understand the conditions and existing defects of the roof before adding solar panels. Asseti automates this for you, providing a comprehensive condition and defect report that shows you the faults even a human can't see on manual inspection.

Not only is sending a human onto the roof manual, time-consuming and dangerous (roof and ladder falls account for nearly 20% of workplace injuries), but it's also unreliable. Our unique drone and AI-powered technology identifies issues that would weaken your solar panels, such as roof sagging, water pooling, rust and more. This is eliminates the need for manual inspections and alerts you to hidden defects that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Here's an example of structural issues identified on a roof in the Asseti platform. The colored dots represent issues, varying by risk level.

2. Managing installation

Next you'll want to get quotes from contractors - with Asseti you can send virtual access to the site to many contractors so they're quoting off the same project. If you're installing solar panels on multiple buildings or sites, you can manage the whole project remotely.

Post installation - management

3. Check everything's been installed correctly

You'll want to make sure the solar panels are operational and efficient - we can do this using thermal imaging.

A defective panel will be hotter due to not converting energy. And how the panel heats up shows which type of defect you have. If the heat distribution appears dappled along the panel, it's a manufacturing defect, whereas if the whole panel is the same temperature and hotter than rest, it's a wiring issue. If all panels are hotter, you have an issue at the combiner box or inverter. You can then clearly identify the issue to be fixed.

Below you can see an example of uneven heat distribution in the form of yellow spots - this signifies localized defects within the panels.

4. Ongoing monitoring

It doesn't stop here - it's important to periodically monitor the condition of the roof to ensure it's holding up and the efficiency of the solar panels isn't compromised.

Check out the example below. As you can see, the panels are severely warped. To the right is a deflection analysis of the same area of roof - the dark blue indicates severe sagging of the roof.

With a warp like that, there’s no way those panels are operating at full efficiency, meaning that instead of saving money, it’s putting money down the drain. A lot of it.

It can mean a huge financial blow to your business.

In this case it would be hard to know if the roof was already in this state prior to the panels being installed, or if this has happened since. This is why it's crucial to monitor condition before and after solar panel installation.

In time, you’ll even be able to use Asseti to monitor the quality and degradation of your solar panels, year on year. It’s a win-win.

Let Asseti do the work for you and avoid millions in costs

We've seen companies jump the gun and install solar panels before properly assessing the integrity of their roofs– and pay the price dearly.

It truly is better to be safe than sorry.

The good news is, all the steps above can be completely automated for you. No manual inspections, no spreadsheets. With Asseti you can ensure that your roof is structurally sound enough to support solar panels- before making that leap. Allow us to do your due diligence and save you up to millions in surprise costs.

 

Keen to learn more? Book in a chat with us today.  

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