The purpose of this article is to provide a detailed walkthrough on using the sunMAX software design and permitting. This article should give you a brief overview of software features and should provide enough information required to manage multiple installation sites, and submit applications for each.
sunMAX Software Suite Overview
The sunMAX Design Tool is Ubiquiti’s comprehensive software suite for Solar Providers (especially WISPs) to create and manage the Pre-Sales & Post-Install aspects of their Solar Business, with these core features:
- Geometry Site Design - Simulate arrays at the customer premise based on orientation, panel layout, etc. to estimate annual production and quickly generate a bill of materials.
- Customer Sales Proposal - Present the costs and savings to your customers in a simple, sleek way, automatically pulling data from the Geometry Site Design section while factoring savings, incentives and any overhead.
- Permitting Package Application - quickly gather and present information about your customer install for Ubiquiti's design team. Once completed, they will prepare a professionally designed permit application package for approval by your Local Authority prior to installing the sunMAX system.
Customer Site Management
The design tool allows Solar Providers to save Customer Sites to their business’ Ubiquiti Profile. The following screen shows a number of Customer Sites saved whose status appears as Draft (Pre-Sale, Site Planning stage) or IN REVIEW (Post-Sale, Permit Process stage). In summary, this page allows Solar Providers to keep track of the progress of each Customer Site throughout the entire Solar Process.
To begin adding Customer Sites, make sure you’re logged in to sunMAX Design with your Ubiquiti Community account. Then create your Solar Business under Ubiquiti’s Organization section to begin saving Sites: https://aircrm.ubnt.com/setup/#/new
With your Organization created, any Customer Sites you add are now saved to your Ubiquiti Account.
Adding a Site
To start a new site, click the green “Add A Site” button in the top right corner of the Site Management page. From here, you will be instructed to enter the site name and address. To keep your sites organized, we recommend naming your sites “<customer_name> - <city, state>”, as shown in the following example.
From here, confirm the location of your site by lining the box over your desired installation site and press confirm.
Customer Site Design
Generally, you should design your Customer’s Solar Arrays with two objectives in mind:
- Offset 100% of the customer’s annual consumption (based on Customer Electricity Bills)
- Maximize efficiency of system (taking into account shading, orientation, and tilt)
Annual Production (measured in kWh) is an estimate of total production based on the weather data for the Customer Site. Because the design tool does not account for shading, be mindful of obstructions (ex. trees, buildings) that will significantly reduce production.
In the Northern Hemisphere, South-facing rooftops offer the greatest production potential. South-facing rooftops cannot be easily implemented, west, southwest, east and southeast-facing roofs will also provide substantial production.
Ensure that the directional arrow for each panel faces in the downward direction of the pitch of the roof—then select the roof pitch (0°-45°) that most accurately corresponds to the pitch of the actual site.
Bill of Materials and System Cost
Based on your customer’s Simulated Solar Arrays, the design tool provides an approximate estimate of System Costs. The suggested Bill of Materials indicate the parts needed to install the proposed sunMAX System. Because pricing is hidden from Customers, make sure that you are logged in with your Ubiquiti Account. Be sure that the correct roof type (Composite vs. Tile) is chosen for your Customer Site.
Permit Design Application
Before you can install a solar energy system on the customer's property, you typically need to obtain and complete a permit from your local permitting authority—also known as, the Authority-Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). The Permit Design Application allows you to compile information and photos from your Customer Site to create a customized Permit Design Plan to be submitted to your AHJ.
The Contact Page requires you to give basic contact information for yourself (the WISP), the customer, and the contracted electrician.
The Property Page requires specific information about the Customer Site where the proposed sunMAX System will be installed.
Assessor’s Parcel Number
The Assessor’s Parcel Number can generally be found in Real Estate Property Databases. These are generally posted online for each county or city. For example, if you wanted to find the APN for a house in Salt Lake City, you could google search “Assessor’s Parcel Number Salt Lake City, Utah”. The pictures below show an APN Map for the Salt Lake region. Interactive maps or address search engines are generally established locally for most regions in the US.
The APN for this particular house was found by searching the address of the home:
The Permit Requirements section refers to any and all requirements (also known as “Solar Ordinances”) determined by the AHJ. You may obtain a copy of these requirements by performing a Google Search for “Solar Permit Requirements for <Your City>.”
Generally, the requirements stipulated by the AHJ will outline details such as weight and height restrictions, city rules for installation/removal of solar PV systems, etc. The following is an example of a solar permit requirement document.
Building Area & Height
This information can generally be found in the building or house plans. Most homeowners will have access to these. It’s wise to scan them, since house plans generally contain information pertinent to other parts of the permitting applications.
Roof Type and Condition
This can generally be determined via physical inspection. The biggest concern in this case is mold, broken shingles, or other damages to the roof that may interfere with worker safety or solar panel installation.
Drawing: PV Arrays
This section calls for the proposed location of the solar panels on the home. For the example below, the satellite image was imported from the sunMAX design into Adobe Illustrator and traced to make a sketch. Similar drawings can be made using other software. Alternatively, a screenshot from the design tool may be uploaded. The most important thing here is to show a clear view of where the solar panels will be installed.
Drawing: Roof Plane Measurements
This section calls for the dimensions (length, width and pitch) of the surface on which the panels are to be installed, and the proposed distance of the solar panels to the edge of the roof. For these dimensions, reference the house plans. In the case that the roof dimensions are not explicitly available, the roof dimensions should be measured by hand.
Drawing: Site Electrical
The site electrical submission calls for a detailed electrical schematic of the sunMAX system, Main Breaker, and Utility Meter. The drawing should outline pertinent details of the end run (e.g. locations of each system, electrical conduit path, length of end runs, etc.).
Photo: Roof Surface
For this submission, provide a photo that shows the detail of the roof surface on which the sunMAX system is to be installed. Make sure to provide a detailed photo of the shingles, tiles, etc.
Drawing: House Building Plan
Each homeowner should have access to the building plans for their house. This should provide information of the dimensions of the house. Include drawings of each story of the house, and the roof if possible. Be sure to include any technical drawings of the roof of the house or the rafter plan.
Photo: Utility Meter Location
Show the utility meter’s location relative to the house. For this, you can either show the utility meter’s location in a house drawing, or take a picture of the utility meter while standing far enough away from the house to tell where it is.
Photo: Utility Meter Close-Up
Provide a photo of the utility meter close enough to see the make/model.
Is the main electrical disconnect included in the main distribution panel?
The main electrical disconnect may be included in the main distribution panel, or may be remotely accessed.
The service voltage is the voltage supplied by the electrical supplier. Generally in the US, it is 120//240V, but it varies internationally. The service voltage is generally listed on the main panel tag or on the breakers themselves.
Photo: Ground Rod
Provide a photo of the grounding rod for the home’s electrical system. This is typically a copper rod that runs from the bottom of the main breaker.
This section of the application contains additional information about the Electrical site, specifically, the Capacity of Panels for Load-Side Connections.
It vital that you work with a qualified electrician, as well as the Utility, prior to completing this application, to outfit the Customer Site with the needed Electrical infrastructure to connect the sunMAX system.
Complete ALL fields accurately to ensure that permit application is approved in a timely manner. Once complete, click "Submit" at the bottom of the page to complete the Permit Package Application. Once submitted, you can return to the sunMAX Permitting Page to verify the status of the permitting application. For clarification about the information required in this section, see the examples below and definitions of each of the required fields.
The main panel manufacturer should be listed on the panel tag generally found on the inside door of the main panel.
The model number of the mains breaker should be found in a similar location as the manufacturer.
Main Breaker Amperage Rating
The Main Breaker Amperage Rating should also be listed on the label. If not, reference the main panel’s spec sheet.
Main Breaker kAIC Rating
The Main Breaker kilo-Amperes Interruption Current (kAIC) rating is the short circuit interruption capacity of the Main Breaker. This can generally be found on the breaker tabs. In this case, the kAIC rating was 10kA.
The Busbar is the main electrical conductor for the entire main panel. Bus Rating can generally be found in the spec sheet or user guide of the main breaker panel.
Are there tabs available for a solar breaker?
Take a look at the breaker label to see if there are extra tabs available for the solar breaker. In this case there are 6 tabs available, but no unused breakers.
Are there any unused breakers?
In this case, no. There are only enough breakers on the main panel to support the existing system. More breakers (Per 16x Module End-Run, US - 2x20A ; EU - 1x20A) would need to be added to support a solar install.
Photo: Panel Location
This can be either a zoomed-out picture of the main panel, or a drawing showing the panel’s location on/ in the house.
Photo: Panel Interior
This photo should show the inside of the panel, mainly focusing on the breakers and tabs available for a PV solar install.
Photo: Main Breaker
Photo: Panel Tag
This picture should show the inside tag of the main breaker panel.
Submitting the Permit Application
Once each section of the permit application is complete, you are ready to submit your application. From this point, the sunMAX design team will review your application to ensure all pictures submitted meet the specifications. The design team will contact you if there are any issues. If no problems are detected in the submission, the design team will begin creating a permit application for you to submit to the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). You should expect a response from the sunMAX design within 48 hours of submitting your application. If you have any questions or concerns from this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.