HelioScope updates functionality within its PV project overlay tool


HelioScope updated its program to provide its own enhanced overlay tool and is no longer compatible with SketchUp or dependent on KMZs. Users can upload any jpg, jpeg, or png via its new overlay tool (as well as still being able to upload KMZ and KML), which also makes it possible to resize, move, stretch and rotate overlays as much as you need all within the browser.

“We have been planning to move away from SketchUp for a while, and the breaking change on their end made it a perfect time to make it official,” the company noted in its announcement. “For those who were used to using SketchUp, the good news is that we have active solutions to replace its functionality. A shading environment built with keepouts and field segments in HelioScope can generate hourly shade simulations, while SketchUp will only produce monthly shade patterns. Additionally, the new overlay tool makes SketchUp’s alignment issues and KMZ creation difficulties a thing of the past.”

Here’s a walkthrough of the new overlay tool.

— Solar Builder magazine

Energy Trust of Oregon approves new shade analysis tools to streamline solar installs

Oregon solar installers shade analysis

Go ahead and analyze shade in these parts from the comfort of your home.

Solar prices have dropped dramatically in recent years, and now Energy Trust of Oregon is helping to lower them further. In the past, Energy Trust required that the solar resource be measured at the installation site—usually a rooftop. Energy Trust now allows contractors to use approved remote shading analysis tools. The first three remote shade analysis tools that have been reviewed for accuracy and approved are Bright Harvest, Aurora Solar and Helioscope.

“In the past, we had to send a person up on the roof to measure shade and determine eligibility for incentives, which was time-consuming and expensive,” said Jordan Weisman, owner, Sunbridge Solar. “Now we can do that same analysis from the safety of our office in a fraction of the time and pass on that savings to customers.”

How to receive a solar incentive from Energy Trust

A “solar trade ally contractor” must document how much energy a system can produce by completing a solar resource assessment. Solar resource assessments measure the impact of shading, array tilt and orientation on a solar electric system’s annual power generation. This gives customers a fine-tuned estimate of the amount of generation to expect from their system and assures Energy Trust that systems meet performance criteria. Sales staff and system designers can even create a fully-dimensioned design and complete a solar resource assessment before the first site visit.

RELATED: Seaward’s tool that combines solar commissioning tests with I-V curve analysis debuts at SPI 

The new shade analysis tools

Remote shade analysis tools allow solar installers to use satellite imagery and LiDAR where it is available to define the 3-D structure of any building as well as the surrounding trees. The installer can then design a solar electric system that will meet all Energy Trust requirements. The tool applies a proprietary algorithm and simulates the sun’s path over the 3D model to produce a heat map that visualizes the solar resource for any point on the roof’s surface.

These new tools will help lower installation costs and also improve worker safety while maintaining the same high level of system quality for customers.

“Solar electric systems allow customers to take control of their energy costs with clean, free energy from the sun. Energy Trust works to drive down the soft costs of solar wherever we can,” said Jeni Hall, senior project manager, Energy Trust. “Providing trade ally contractors with access to these new tools will help reduce installation costs, making solar power more affordable for Oregonians.”

Energy Trust works with a network of trade ally contractors to help homeowners and businesses install solar power in Oregon. Together, they’ve helped nearly 1,000 organizations and more than 9,000 households around the state harness solar power to generate clean energy and save money.

— Solar Builder magazine