Shading Analysis

Extremely accurate remote shade analysis

Aurora’s irradiance engine provides solar access values that are statistically equivalent to actual on-site shade measurements, for any location in the world.

It has been validated by NREL, allowing you to save the time, cost, and hassle of a truck roll with every project you design.

Easily view all of the solar insolation values in an interactive graphical map that includes monthly irradiance values, TOF, TSRF, and solar access.

Officially accepted shade reports

Automatically export Aurora’s remote shading analysis to a shade report in a format officially accepted by lease financing providers and the following rebate authorities:

  • New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
  • Rhode Island Renewable Energy Fund
  • Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC)
  • New Jersey Clean Energy Fund
  • City of Roseville Residential Solar Energy Program
  • Oncor
  • Energy Trust of Oregon
  • Connecticut Green Bank
  • Sunnova
  • And more to come

Frequently Asked Questions

Solar Shading

What is solar shading?

In general construction, the term solar shading is used to refer to any building part or system that is designed and installed to limit the amount of heat or light from the sun. This is also known as solar control or solar blocking.

In solar system design, solar shading specifically refers to the amount of shade that a solar panel may receive throughout the day or year. Any shade on a solar panel will limit what is known as a system’s solar access. Accurate results in calculating a shaded system’s performance are based on both irradiance and total time spent in the shade.

How does shading affect solar panels?

Unfortunately, shading does not affect a solar panel’s ability to produce electricity in a very linear sense. In fact, shading losses in PV systems may reduce power production by up to 75% when merely one of 36 solar cells on a panel is shaded.

With this “weakest link” theory in mind, a few trees, poles, or obstructions can dramatically affect a solar power system’s potential output. Beyond this, solar panel proposals should also take horizon shading, panel orientation, and other potential sources of shade into account before finalizing a system’s design.

How does solar shading affect design?

Accurate solar shading analysis can help determine the best possible placement for panels and system components. With a shade report that analyzes local sun conditions and property obstructions (such as trees and neighboring buildings), ideal solar systems can be designed to avoid both daily and seasonal shading.

When shade cannot be avoided, solar shading software can determine the expected limited output of partially shaded panels. In a real-life scenario, this may affect design decisions, such as whether to use a series or parallel wiring connection.


Solar Permitting

What is a solar inspection?

A solar inspection is the process of fully examining a property or a completed solar energy project to ensure that a solar panel installation can safely generate electricity. While pre-installation inspections are typically conducted by a company’s in-house or contracted experts, a final solar inspection with an outside party must be passed before the system can go live.

To tie into the adjacent electrical grid, solar inspections are required by law to be conducted by the local Authority-Having-Jurisdiction (AHJ), which refers to the municipality or governance that oversees the property. These professional solar inspections typically incur a small one-time fee.

How do I pass the solar inspection?

The easiest way to pass a solar inspection is to build a professionally designed and installed system that meets all local safety and permitting standards. Before finalizing a completed design, solar developers must consider local setbacks for panel placement, HOA laws, fire safety rules, and other local building codes.

Once the system is installed, grounded, and wired properly, the best way to ensure you pass a solar inspection is to be on time and polite with the building inspector. In addition to having all of your designs and plans ready to go, you should also prepare to show the inspector the entire system by setting up ladders and clearing any clutter or leftover equipment.

Which codes include requirements for solar systems?

From the national level to the municipal scale, solar system regulations are primarily controlled by electrical, fire, and building codes. Being familiar with the local building codes in your area is a great way for small companies to be one step ahead of national installers. However, it can still be very difficult to know all of the individual code requirements between various jurisdictions.

To help solve this problem, most solar design software, such as Aurora, includes all of the local code and setback requirements already built into the modeling platform. Aurora is NREL-certified, permit-ready, and full of accurate local data to assist in the installation process.

What are the requirements for solar systems?

To connect a solar system to the local electric grid, most jurisdictions in the United States have a unique set of minimum capacity and safety equipment requirements. While all PV systems now require a module-level rapid shutdown, most installations require inspections from both the local Authority-Having-Jurisdiction and the electrical utility.

Of course, to be considered for grid connection, solar systems have to contain properly installed PV panels, wiring, inverters (or microinverters), regulators, and power meters. For ongoing safety, most solar systems are also required to have some sort of production monitoring equipment installed beyond just the new energy meter.