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How Sunnova Does Simple, Efficient and Powerful Solar System Design

by Sandie Nguyen
Credit: Geoffrey Berlin

How Sunnova Does Simple, Efficient and Powerful Solar System Design

by Sandie Nguyen
Credit: Geoffrey Berlin

In a fiercely competitive market, Sunnova's experience and innovation have established us as a nationally trusted solar partner. We constantly strive to enhance our customer service capabilities to better serve production homebuilders, whether it is through touchless technology, valuable solar programs, or code-compliant solar system design.

Striking the balance between functionality and curb appeal, our in-house design team rolls out plan sets for around 1000 PV projects a month. In this blog, we will walk you through the phases of designing an effective, powerful, and aesthetically pleasing solar-powered system.

Community Review

Solar system design is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The community review is where our operations team has the opportunity to discuss the community with the developer and gather the information necessary to create a design tailored to your specific needs.  

The initial analysis is performed using data taken from architectural plans, energy code compliance reports, and community specifications. By carefully evaluating each plan individually, we will be able to optimize the panel layout and estimate the necessary production of energy per home and minimize the likelihood of over-producing.

Design and Engineering

After the community review, comes the design and engineering process. Solar system design takes into account two important factors – the amount of roof space available for installing solar panels and the amount of energy the home consumes. Other variables, such as estimated occupants, shading, square footage, and energy usage by a comparable home without solar, also come into play.

Sunnova's solar systems are designed to offset the majority of the home’s expected energy needs. We also take into consideration the future families that may live in this home to maximize its resale value and desirability.

The process of providing an initial system design can vary but rest assured that we understand the rhythm of construction projects and won’t allow your timelines to be affected!

Solar Spotlight: Geoffrey Berlin

Here at Sunnova, we’re lucky to work with some incredible people who are proud of the role they play in helping America’s homebuilders increasingly go solar.

Geoffrey Berlin is one such employee who cares deeply about the importance of renewable energy in today’s world. During the four years he has been here, he has had an outsized impact on the company working as a Solar Home Design Manager. We checked in with this Sunnova's Denver based Associate to chat about his work and how he started out in the earlier days.

What inspires you to work in the energy industry?

GB: I have a background in Architecture and Advertising but have always found myself to be energy conscious. My first solar experience came way back in 2005 at the University of Colorado as a part of the winning Solar Decathlon team. This was a Net 0, a super green mobile home we built outside of Boulder CO, hauled out to D.C., and took part in 10 energy efficiency, solar, and design events. I was on the Design & Marketing team, but it got my feet wet with renewables. After that, I assisted with sales support and generating models and PV layout for thousands of homes across the US. Over time I slowly learned the back-end engineering and more complex aspects of PV design.

After a short time working at Google / SketchUp I landed a job with a local PV company in Boulder where I met Mark Chapman (Sr. Director of Operations - Central) who at the time was an installer. I think you could say I have followed him around since then!

What project have you worked on that you are most proud of? Do you have an effective approach to managing such a large amount of data?

GB: I am most proud of the new and unique commercial project Sunnova just completed, the Vitri at Scottsdale Quarter, Arizona. I was able to drive the design from the start on something fun and unique with a lot of site customization.

With such an extensive amount of information and data, it is not always easy to remember every detail of every project we work on. I have learned it is critical to automate repetitive tasks in my workflow and develop processes to ensure that builder timelines are always prioritized.

What are some major changes you have noticed in solar design over the years?

GB: The development of Module Level Power Electronics (MLPE) has had one of the biggest effects I have seen. It has also been very interesting to see what a tipping point may be with different regions across the US starting to set requirements for PV to be installed on every new home.

Do you have any advice and career tips for aspiring solar designers?

GB: There are a lot of classes out there, often offered by racking, inverter and module manufacture. These classes, while often brand-specific at heart, can be applied in a much broader way. Additionally, take advantage of free tools like SAM, SketchUp, and OpenSolar. I have also found that the solar design industry is still noticeably young, and not many of us have experience in PV design. We just need to see hard-working people with high potential to learn!

Feel free to follow us on social media for more information on incorporating solar into new home construction.

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