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The Value of Experience in Solar Design & Engineering

The Value of Experience in Solar Design & Engineering


The US solar market continues to grow by leaps and bounds, creating energy sector jobs and highlighting the resilience of American innovation even as some politicians turn their focus backward towards fossil fuels. As CNN Money reported not long ago, “solar employment expanded last year (2016) 17 times faster than the total US economy, according to an International Renewable Energy Agency report.” With hundreds of thousands of jobs being created in solar installation, manufacturing, and project development, it continues to be clear that solar energy offers a vibrant future.

In any rapidly growing industry, an influx of new talent is exciting and energizing. In a highly technical industry such as solar, it is also cause for reflection on the value and benefit of experience. When it comes to both consumers and industry newcomers, those of us who have spent decades building the solar industry that is thriving today have an opportunity to put our experience to good use.

The Importance of Solar PV Design Experience

For consumers, the importance of recognizing industry experience when choosing a designer, engineer, and contractor is paramount. As in any field, a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities offered by solar energy provides greater value and benefits to clients. In the solar industry in particular, the combination of design and installation experience pays major dividends to consumers.

When beginning a solar project, whether commercial or residential, finding a design company with field experience in both solar design and application is the first step towards a successful result. Why?

Here’s what experienced solar design and engineering companies understand:

How to Achieve the Best Product Mix recommends asking if a company “promote(s) enough of a selection of products to offer a solution that meets your goals?” and warns consumers to “Beware the company that only offers 1 solution to every customer.” I would echo this concern, as solar designers who trade in pre-packaged solutions are unlikely to be the right fit for any project. Instead, an experienced designer will be able to mix and match, recommending custom solar plus storage options that address cost, scale, and impact.

In addition, a solar project leader who understands both design and installation can incorporate passive solar design principles in order to increase the system’s effectiveness and further lower utility costs.

How to Create the Right Design Package & Documents

The ability to create a design package and documents is a strong indicator that you’re working with an experienced energy system designer. “Going solar is a significant investment in your home, and you should have a strong, trusting relationship with your installer,” EnergySage recommends. “The best installers will work with you to understand how solar fits within the energy system of your home or business.”

This is a litmus test for experienced, professional solar design and installation experts. The design package and documents, in addition to helping the consumer understand the scope of their investment, are used to secure the connection from the utility company and permits from local authorities. The ultimate success of a solar project depends heavily on the designer and contractor’s ability to document the process at every stage.

How to Increase Long Term Value

An experienced design and application team knows how to maximize the value they provide to clients. That means planning carefully to do things right the first time instead of taking the cheap road and then paying more later due to problems that arise as a result. For example, I’ve heard stories of contractors who misunderstood roof capacity or voltage requirements, leading to scrapped designs and soaring expenses midway through installation.

In addition, an experienced design and contracting company will understand the solar financing options available to their client and work with them to maximize their savings. An investment in solar energy is incredibly valuable, even more so when you work with a team that understands how to keep initial costs low.

How to Prioritize Training & Experience

While a project lead with a variety and depth of experience is a must, staffing a project with experienced and well-trained workers in every position is best. The importance of proper training and background cannot be understated when you consider the potential for expensive mistakes (blown transformers, etc…), which lead to increased expenses, delayed projects, and very unhappy customers.

Modernize offers a helpful list of important questions to ask potential solar contractors, such as whether they have the required licensing and certification, necessary insurance coverage, and experience with projects of a similar type and scale.

Put Our Experience to Work

At Solar Design Studio, our deep experience in both commercial and residential design and installation pays off for your solar projects. Our commitment to each client is to maximize the long term energy and economic benefits of their solar installation, and we bring decades of experience to the table to ensure success. We’re proud of our reputation for doing things right the first time, never sacrificing the quality of our design or installation.

If you’re seeking an experienced solar design and application expert for your commercial or residential solar installation, you’ve come to the right place! Schedule a consultation today to get started.



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What Our Clients Are Saying

I have researched adding PV to my home for several years and have met with several PV providers in the KC area and they tend to fall into two broad categories, the new and low budget operators who got into this to ride the wave and are not that knowledgeable, and the commercial providers who have little interest in working with a homeowner and are geared to providing a much larger system where some economy of scale must come into play. Both my wife and I are architects and we wanted something different and it was challenging to find someone who was interested in doing something out of the ordinary. Neither or those types were interested in working with us as we were trying to create something a bit different. they each wanted to sell us their pre-configured solutions.


Fortunately we found Bob Solger. He has been a delight to work with and is incredibly knowledgeable and responsive. We wanted to create a solar carport that would provide cover and protection for our cars, but would also provide shade over part of our patio. In essence, the big idea was to create an outdoor pavilion, when, if we wanted to entertain we could move the cars out of the way and have a large covered area for an outdoor gathering. We had selected the Lumos brand of solar panels as they have a very clean look and are partially transparent so some light filters through the panels creating a mottled light pattern on the ground, similar to the shading from a tree. In addition, the system is set up to hide the majority of the connecting wires in the support beams so when you look up at the underside of the PV roof you see a very clean look. Bob recognized our goal and worked with us to ensure the project’s success. Bob identified a structural engineer to design an elegant support structure and found a fabricator to build it affordably. Finally he connected us with a contracting team to clear the space, provide the footings, retaining walls, and pad, who were every bit as careful with everything as you would hope. They were amazingly accommodating to every request and understood that there were a lot of competing challenges that needed to be resolved so we could fit this all in to a very tight location and make it look like it belongs.


The bottom line is that it all turned out better than we could have hoped and while it did cost more than the low ball bids received from some of the low budget operators, it was less than the commercially focused suppliers, and more importantly we got the design we wanted and a well-constructed PV carport that will give us great delight for years to come. The best part is of course the savings on our electric bill, which thus far has been averaging around $200/month. So not only do we have a new carport and entertainment patio that our neighbors have been stopping by and admiring (which given that we live in the older Brookside neighborhood and our PV carport is quite modern, we were much relieved) but, our electric bills have been in the under $10/month range.


We owe a great debt of gratitude to Bob and his knowledge and team for helping to create an amazing PV carport for us. I’m sure you would be delighted with whatever you engage him to help you with.

Dev & Sue Malik

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