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Scanifly - the Coolest Thing I've seen this Year!

03/31/19

  09:14:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 635 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, NABCEP

Scanifly - the Coolest Thing I've seen this Year!

Last week I spent four intense days in San Diego for the annual NABCEP Continuing Education conference.  This is a great event, with lots of super smart, experienced installers from around the country gathering to sharpen their skills and share information.  Lots of vendors are there providing workshops, and there are heavyweight course sessions like two hours on Worker Safety, and an entire day on the National Electrical Code.  (Ok, so those two are a bit like eating your vegetables as a kid - but super important information, nonetheless.)  But there was one thing that stood out for having the highest cool factor - and that was courtesy of the folks at Scanifly.  Here’s our take…

Site Evaluations Re-imagined

One of the most crucial aspects of the solar installation business is performing proper site evaluations.  Some companies brag about being able to provide you with a proposal for adding solar to your home or business without ever bothering to go there.  We categorically reject that approach - online imagery is fine, but it won’t tell you whether the grounding is complete or the service panel has so many doubles in it already that it is a fire waiting to happen.  Nor can you look a prospective client in the eye, answer their questions, and build the confidence that is so important to doing this right.

But every time you have someone go up on a roof, there is a chance for injury.  And while roof work is a necessary part of this business, going up on a dangerous roof before you have even won the job, means most of the time you are exposing your employee to risk for potentially no gain.  Moreover, it is time-consuming and error prone to be making measurements while on the roof.  Things get overlooked - like just how far is that vent from the ridge? - and often you bring the evaluation results back to the office, only to realize that you missed a key detail!  Frustrating (and expensive) if you have to go back to the site a second time.

What if you could be assured that you would gather all the detail you could possibly need the first time?  And what if you could turn that - automagically - into a 3-D model complete with all the shading on the site from both trees and other obstructions?  Now that would be cool, and that is what the folks at Scanifly have achieved.

Here’s how it works.  You take a drone (typical price range: $700-1,500) and fly it on an automatic setting that flies a complete circle around the site at a set height, and radius from the center of the building in question - typically less than 100′ AGL and maybe 75′ radius (the site obstructions will dictate most of this).  The drone will fly that course automatically, and will take pictures with a roughly 85% or so overlap.  (No drone? No problem, they can hook you up with a drone pilot to do the image gathering.)

Once you have the photos, you upload them to the Scanifly site, and after some amount of data crunching, you now have a 3-D model onto which you can add your modules.  The software understands the shading at the site and can produce production modelling data that can then be imported into a savings modeling tool like that provided by our friends at Energy Toolbase.

Even cooler, you can give your prospective client a link to the model so that they can see what their house will look like with the system installed (including the boxes on the wall!) in full 3-D!  

Now that is really cool, and no one had to go up a ladder onto a roof to do it!

We are super excited about this system and we cannot wait to try it out for ourselves.

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7 comments

Comment from:
lgparker
Thanks Jim for your review on scanifly. We use a drone after having finished an install and send a copy to customers to hopefully brag to friends, but this usage to preliminarily survey customer’s site is another professional step in the process. I’m sure the IQ8 discussion by Martin F was another highlight, will you be doing blog post soon? Keep up the good work….
04/01/19 @ 02:08
Comment from: Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO
I am planning on putting up an Enphase post this week - watch this space! But in the meantime, I wanted to give the Scanifly folks some love!
04/01/19 @ 03:02
Comment from:
thekwhour
Great idea. However poor execution. My images never complete uploading. They say it’s my issue but I am able to upload gigabytes of files to google drive and iCloud all the time. Can never get a model to upload completely for processing. So disappointing.
04/25/19 @ 16:19
Comment from: Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO

I have to say that seems very odd. I can’t think of any reason why images couldn’t be uploaded. How long ago did you try this? How many photos were you uploading?

That said, we are going to be trying this soon ourselves and then we will report on our full experience.

Jim
04/25/19 @ 18:40
Comment from:
scanifly
Hi @thekwhour, We’re sorry to hear your experience using Scanifly has not met your expectations. We try our best to support all of our customers as often as possible, and almost always reply within 24 hours of receiving a message. Sometimes local internet upload speed causes challenges when uploading the high resolution images. We suspect this has been the problem you’re experiencing. We’re happy to chat offline about this at your convenience. We’re also about to post some new tutorials and support materials for our community, which will discuss using drones in solar, creating shade reports, and navigating a 3D-built environment. These should also enhance your experience with us.
04/25/19 @ 20:40
Comment from:
thekwhour
@scanifly thank you for the support. Once I got my photos uploaded the 3d model looks amazing! Really excited to continue using your service. My upload speed of 2Mb was not enough to handle the images like you mention. Thanks for the support. Awesome stuff for sure.
04/27/19 @ 00:54
Comment from: Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO

That is great news!

I know how challenging it can be to provide first-rate customer support, so I’m happy to hear that they were able to work through your issues, and that the 3d model is working so well for you!

Can’t wait to try it for myself! - Nice job, Scanifly!

Jim
04/27/19 @ 01:23


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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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