Green Collar Careers - Site Survey
Every customer will have a different installation need no matter
the similarity between buildings. The best place to begin is
looking up the potential customer's building on
Try it on your own home, and zoom in full view; not all homes in
America will zoom in full view, most will. Look for the best
The Site Survey will require a documented plan
that includes the following documents you'll prepare:
- Site Survey Worksheet
- Site Diagram
These documents will be part of the documentation package completed
by the System Installation phase.
1 Site Survey Worksheet
Survey Tool captures the data
relevant to the site and calculates basic performance specifications.
Both demand data and supply data is entered with several data points
defined through the use of proven formulas and macros. Only the
white colored cells are to be filled in. All Gray color cells
will use a formula or macro to fill them in. Most of the data
should be filled in prior to a site survey is done however some of
the customer data such as utility information may not be available
until the site visit. The important part is to have the
latitude, longitude and related data to generate the preliminary
Site Survey Data
- Customer Data
- Utility Data
- Home Data
- Available Thermal Energy
- Water Heat System Requirements
- Solar PV Requirements
- Wind Turbine Requirements
Regional Solar Data
- Latitude and Longitude for most major cities in America -
needed for Site Survey Data
- Annual Sunny Days - needed for Site Survey Data
- Will be used to calculate solar azimuth and elevation for
summer, fall, winter, spring milestone dates. Latitude and
Longitude will first need to be entered on the Site Survey
- Input the time values in (Year, Month, Day, Time, GMT, 0 for
DST) in for each season, hit enter and manually record the azimuth
and elevation for each season - this will automatically carry over
to other worksheets.
- Calculates the effective length of day
- Input the time values for each season, hit enter, and record
data. Again, the recorded data is carried to other
Regional Wind Speed
- This worksheet will be discussed in the Wind Energy module
Survey Tool Practice Run
1) Open the
Survey Tool and save it to a new folder you've created.
You can manage your own filing system, but I would recommend naming
the folder "Solar Thermal Surveys" and giving the file a name of
"YYYYMMDD-YourName-1".xls. This will position the file by
chronological order with the customer's name for future reference.
The "-1" is in case you want to revise the form yet keep the original.
Note: Fill in ONLY THE WHITE CELLS! All gray cells are filled in
by formulas or macros
2) Select the Site Survey Data
tab and complete the Customer Data in rows 2-13.
the Utility Data in rows 15, 16, 17, & 19.
4) Complete the
Home Data in rows 23-25.
5) From the Google Map determine which
section of your roof has the southernmost exposure. Go out and
take a look at it and estimate the number of feet in the X direction,
and the number of feet in the Y direction, and add that to the sketch.
Take a compass and measure the angle to the nearest degree of the wall
that lines up with the roofline, and show that on the sketch.
Note where due north/south is by the compass in relation to the roof
surface. At this point you won't need to be exact but a good
scale sketch is a good sign of true professional interest!
Measure the pitch of the roof as best you can; Access it from
the attic take protractor and measure the angle of the roof slope.
If you don't have a protractor use a level and tape, measure the the
horizontal distance and the vertical distance, then using
Pythagorean's theorem calculate the angle. While you're in the
attic look for the routes you'll be running the fluid transfer lines
between the collectors and storage tank.
7) Walk around your
lot and site off the path of the sun through the day - are there any
sun obstructions like trees or other objects that will create shadows
on the roof surface? Remember that the sun will be higher in the
summer months and lower in the wither months. Label these
obstructions on the sketch.
- If there are no obstructions and the roof surface is aligned
within 25° of south facing, it will be a suitable surface to mount
collectors. Collectors do not need to be mounted flush on the
roof, in fact despite what you may see in pictures that is actually
bad practice. Collectors/Panels should always be elevated
slightly above the roof tiles to give some access to roof tiles.
- If there are obstructions the choices are simple; either
remove the obstruction, change the mounting location, or de-rate the
system to operate only within the window of available sunlight.
7) Fill in 26, 27, 28 of the Home Data with measurements
and notes you've taken. By this time you should have a pretty
good idea of where the system will mount.
8) If you don't know the
longitude and latitude of the subject home Google Maps will have it,
or it can be found on the Regional Solar Data tab. You
don't need it down to the minutes and seconds. Under the
Available Thermal Energy section fill in rows 35 and 37.
The data in these two rows will automatically populate a few other
cells we'll visit later.
9) Select the Regional Solar Data
tab and look up the city (or closest city) where you're doing the
survey. Look up the "Sunny Days a Year" value on the Site
Survey Data worksheet row 38.
10) Select the solar_position
tab and look at the Input Column a moment. Latitude and
Longitude values came from the inputs at step #8. Over on the
right side under columns 3, 4, 5, &6 you'll see a box with a heading
"Use these Settings". Under Summer '6' is listed for the
month, '21' is listed for the day and so on. Key those numbers
in for the corresponding cell and hit enter, which updates the
azimuth and elevation values. For each season record those
values in the boxes under where it says "Record the Values".
Those values will populate the Site Survey Sheet.
Tip: Output values on the solar_position and sunrise
worksheets may not be "cut & paste" in the normal way as they are
the result of a macro. You can right click for "Paste Special
", click the Value radio button, and paste the value.
Select the sunrise tab and once again run through the
exercise to record the data for each of the seasons.
the Site Survey Data tab and notice that the remaining
Available Thermal Energy cells have been filled in. Doing
all that manually the first time would have probably taken several
days if you already had the formulas. Weeks if you had to find
the formulas. Minutes using the worksheets provided.
most part that is the site survey. We may appear to have
gotten a little bit ahead of ourselves as we reviewed the Water
Heat System Requirements in the previous chapter. As you
recall we actually reviewed a completed sample. Now lets
complete this survey.
Check the water heater temperature and input
that value to Temperature on row 57.
From what you learned
in 401 Performance Specs
identify and input the value for Solar Collector Efficiency %.
Finally input the Solar Water Heating Percentage, and save
2. Site Diagram
From the preliminary Site Survey Data, open the following
Sun Path Chart tool provided by the University of Oregon to plot
out an image of the chart to visually represent the Solar Altitude
and Solar Elevation for the site. This will help to orient the
draw a sketch of the lot with the building and
roof lines. Try to remain within scale the best you can using a
ruler to keep lines straight. 8-1/2 x 11 paper is OK if you're neat,
and graph paper actually works pretty well for some people.
Keep the north/south position aligned with edges so you can overlay
the Sun Path Chart.
Note the trees and other obstacles that may possibly
obscure the roof and mark that up on the sketch. This will be
your preliminary sketch not necessarily the final draft you'll put
together after the survey has been done.
In the event the roof
line is off by more then 20° alignment to south, look for potential
ground mounting of the collectors.
Most counties have
a tax information site you can locate in the Search Tool below.
Property tax records will tell you the name of the owner, when the
building was built and how many square feet it has.
Tip - Homes that are less then 12 years old are likely to have the
original water heaters and if so they are generally the cheapest
"builder's specials" on the market. Builder's specials have
shorter lives and are less efficient then what consumers typically
replace them with. The homeowner may be ready for a new
water heater that typically would cost $1000 to replace.
You will need the following tools for the Site Survey:
- Compass - with flat edge to line up with a wall, and with
degree readouts - a good hiking compass will do
- Protractor - Bubble level preferred although one that can lay
on a level is OK. It will need an angle bar so you can use
it to get a line of site on roof angles from the ground
- 100 foot tape measure
- 25 foot tape measure
- Something that can measure a pipe diameter
- Clip Board
- Sharp pencils with erasers
- 3 copies of Sketch - you'll know why after doing your first
- Print out of Sun Path Chart
- Print out of Site Survey Data
- Note pad - graph paper preferred
- Ruler - you'll be doing more sketching
- Digital Camera
- Verify visual accuracy of preliminary sketch and clean up
anything that's not really clear.
- Take wall measurements to the closest 6" and add the
dimensions of the walls to the sketch
- Note property lines and distances from the house to the
property. There may be obstacles that don't belong to the
homeowner or in the event of a ground installation of the solar
collector it needs to be on their property and within any
boundaries established by local codes. If you see these
types of concerns, document them, otherwise its not that
- Check wall and roof line alignment to the compass and note
the readings to within a few degrees - keep in mind the region
of interest is southern facing.
- Using the protractor on level (per bubble) site the roof
angles of interest and note that on the sketch.
- Measure the length and width of the roof section from the
ground and try to remain within 6" and add those dimensions to
the sketch. You may need to use the second copy for this.
Identify a corner of the house as a reference point for these
dimensions as you'll be using that reference for other things to
determine pipe lengths & routes and wiring lengths & routes.
- Locate the existing water heater and measure the relative
location to the reference point you identified in step 6.
Note the floor the water heater is on.
- Investigate the best path to route the Closed Loop piping
from the Solar Collector to the existing Hot Water Heater.
Do not offer to relocate the Storage Tank/Heater, it will only
- Sketch the room where the hot water heater is located to
indicate clearances from walls, access doors, and any objects.
Take plenty of pictures of this room/closet to make sure you
have it documented.
- Inspect the attic area under the proposed solar collector
position and determine the most viable routing of the Closed
Loop piping. Keep in mind that the piping must be
insulated so blind access or wall drops of pipes is not a
preferred solution. In some cases a wall drop may be the
only solution and in that event consider the potential of
cutting out a section of wallboard to install the insulation -
that will probably add $200 or more to the cost.
- Take plenty of pictures inside the attic underneath the
proposed proposed solar collector position and note the size of
the rafters. Most solar collectors are under 10 lbs per
square foot load and usually pose no issues, but be sure in case
you're asked for permitting purposes.
- Draw a sketch of the plumbing path. Take pictures of
everywhere you expect to run piping. While its not
preferred for aesthetic reasons in some homes there is no
alternative but to run piping externally. Always keep that
in mind as an alternative route and you will want pictures of
all possible routes. Measure out the plumbing routes, both
vertical and horizontal.
- Identify the water piping used. In most cases it will
be 3/4" copper but don't guess - know what is currently
connected to the existing water heater.
- Note the brand, model, age, size, and capacity of the
existing hot water heater.
- Consider any alternative ground locations for the solar
collector. It may surprise you how many times a ground
mount is the best solution, particularly if the hot water system
is just on the other side of the wall. There are even some
systems that have been built over a doorway or elevated along a
wall as an awning!
- If this is a roof mount, note the type of roof construction
- shingles, metal, tile etc.
- Interview the homeowner to complete the Site Survey Data and
review the proposed location. Unless you're really
confident, you don't have to give them an immediate price on the
system, but be sure to give them an estimate within 48 hours.
After the Site Survey
As your preliminary sketch will have lots of scribbles (unless
you're extraordinarily neat) you'll probably want to create a clean
set of sketches.
- Solar Path Diagram - top view of building with position of
Solar Collector as the bottom center of page. This
should overlay with the
Sun Path Chart you created.
- Mounting Diagram - shows where the solar collector will be
located relative to a reference point.
- Storage/Hot Water tank with relative dimensions to the
walls, doors and reference point - include some printed key
- Closed Loop Routing Diagram - include any lengths and
elbows etc. required.
- Closed Loop Pump - Location, type (Solar or AC)
Wrapping up the Site
Survey and Diagram Documentation
In Section 400 there were 5 documents that you'll need to prepare:
- Site Diagram
- Site Survey Worksheet
- System Diagram - plumbing & electrical
- Bill of Materials
- SRCC Compliant Permit
After you've completed the Site Diagram its best to scan a copy and
save it to the same folder your using for the project.
The content on this page is pretty in-depth for a new comer,
don't worry. After reading through some of the following
sections you'll probably want to revisit this section and it will
all make sense by then.