The site needs to have open access to the sun. Solar modules (panels) convert sunlight into electricity, and therefore need to be in direct sunlight to produce optimally. The more open access to the sun throughout the day and throughout the year, the more energy the system will produce.

The solar array should not be shaded; Solar Panels or Photovoltaic modules are wired together in a series circuit or string.  The strings are wired this way to obtain the high voltage that the inverters require to be efficient.  If a module is even partially shaded by a tree, building, power line, or other obstruction, then it is possible the production of that entire string of modules could be knocked out.  It is important to do a proper shade analysis to see the potential for shading issues.

PV systems can be grid-tied as opposed to battery-based systems.  This means that there is no need for batteries and the electricity generated by the system will be used directly by the loads at the site and any excess will be “stored” on the utility power grid.  This is good news for PV systems because it eliminates the expense and maintenance of a battery bank, and the system is more efficient.  The only downside is that when the utility grid goes down (during a power outage) the PV system also shuts down for safety reasons and no energy will be delivered.  This is not a significant concern in areas where power outages are rare.

The solar modules can be mounted on roofs or on the ground.  The PV modules for an array are mounted on racking, and the racking can be mounted on various roof types or onto a ground structure built specifically for the system.  Roof mounts tend to be somewhat cheaper, because they use an existing structure to hold them.  If a tracking array is desired or if it is determined that the roof cannot support the added weight, then a ground-mount can be installed. 

A Certified Site Assessment will provide you site-specific information on how a wind or solar (PV) system would perform at a specific location, including information on system options, minimum tower height, shade analysis, installation concerns, the available resource, estimated energy production, estimated costs, and financial incentives.  We have Wind and Solar Site Assessors on staff Certified by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA).  Site assessment reports provide all the information you will need to make an educated decision on whether a renewable energy system will work for you, and the next steps to take.