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Today I conducted a little test to compare the performance of two low cost solar site assessment tools. I consider low cost to be anything under $1,000. These tools provide infomation about the amount of available sunlight that falls on a surface. They do this by examining the landscape features in the area that provide shade at different parts of the day such as buildings and trees. These tools provide a percentage of available solar radiation you can expect to receive. This can then be combined with weather data and solar panel information to perform preliminary energy calculations using energy modelling software. This site assessment information is supplied for each month however for the purpose of this test I am only going to compare the total annual values.
The two tools I compared are:
1) Solar Pathfinder (http://www.solarpathfinder.com) $299 + $199 software
Solar pathfinder image. The black areas inside the ring mark the obstructions in the surrounding area. This image is traced using computer software.
2) Solmetric iPV iPhone application (http://www.solmetric.com/solmetricipv.html) $29.99
The Solmetric app lets you trace the obstructions directly with the iphone.
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The calculations for the percentage of available sunlight were as follows:
Solar Pathfinder: 84%
Solmetric iPV: 86%
Both of these tools require tracing so they have a element of human error involved. When using the pathfinder you take a picture of the equipment and trace it using the computer software. When using the Solmetric app you trace the horizon directly with the iphone. Given the close proximity of the results I don’t really feel as though one is any better than the other from a performance standpoint. When you consider the price the Solmetric iPV iPhone application is the clear winner, but only if you already own an iPhone.
Solmetric also makes professional site assessment tools in the $2,000 price range that do not require any manual tracing and are remarkably accurate.
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Randy King CTO
With over 20 years of engineering management experience including HP/Agilent, Solmetric, and Vivint Solar, and 35 years in science, technology, and quality, Randy is an inventor, entrepreneur, and founder of a number successful ventures in the advanced communications and solar markets, co-author of 10 patents, and published in IEEE. Randy holds a BS in Physics from the University of Oregon, an MSE in Applied Mathematics from the University of Washington and MSE in Engineering Management from NTU.
Keith Rose CEO
Keith is a renewable and solar industry veteran with extensive international experience. He has worked in a number of leadership roles. Most notably he was an executive at technology provider Solmetric, which was acquired by Vivint Solar in 2015. At Vivint, Keith was in charge of launching Vivint's C&I division. He has held executive level positions at HiQ and Sea Bright Solar. He is a regular speaker at industry events on the topic of cybersecurity for the grid. He received an MBA from Fordham Business School, and holds degrees in Chemical Engineering and Economics from Rutgers.
Rod Sugiyama VP Operations
R&D and Manufacturing Manager. Rod has over 25 years of engineering management experience from HP, Agilent-Technologies, Keithley Instruments and Tektronix. Rod is experienced in forming and leading multi-functional organizations including R&D design and manufacturing engineering, purchasing, and manufacturing operations. Rod is responsible for Operant project management, manufacturing, and overall quality systems. Rod holds a BSEE from CSUS.
Mayank Saxena VP Engineering
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Mayank is a seasoned engineering leader focused on building innovative products at scale, with time to market and customer experience being paramount. He has 20+ years in technology R&D, software, product development, and team building experience at companies like NSC, NetApp, Microsoft, and HP. As an inventor he holds multiple US patents. Mayank brings tremendous strength to our engineering ability to design, execute, manufacture, and deploy industry-leading products. He Hold M.S. in Computer Science from USC.
Dave Bass Chairman
Dave has been an engineering and executive leader for 35 years, managing 500+ person businesses with revenue of more than $350M in a variety of telecommunications, data communications, optical, and RF/Microwave markets as Senior R&D Manager, Senior Marketing Manager, and as VP / General Manager. With broad, worldwide experience in fast growing, high margin businesses, Dave is responsible for integrating our business, technical and operational strategies into sustainable results.
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