« Installing Solar in a Time of LockdownsPower Trip: The Fight to Kill Solar »

From Drone to Done!


  07:01:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 493 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power

From Drone to Done!

Back in February we wrote about how Run on Sun had taken a giant step forward technologically in entering the Drone Era for doing site evaluations.  That giant leap was enabled by our learning about Software-as-a-Service provider, Scanifly and the super cool software that they had developed to transform individual drone images into a three-dimensional model that would allow both a detailed shading analysis and precise layouts to be performed at your computer without ever going on the roof.

Sadly, no sooner had we gotten on-board with Scanifly than we went into Covid-lockdown and lots of things got put on hold.  But now that we are building projects again, we thought it would be worthwhile to compare how closely our Scanifly model compared to the real world!  Check it out…

Starts with the Drone

The process begins by a drone flight that captures both contextual images - using a Point-of-Interest flight where you identify your center point, back off to a radius that will include all shade elements, and then fly that circle taking images every 2 seconds or so (our drone, a Mavic Air, does that automatically) - and detailed images closer in to where the array will be placed.  Here’s an example of a contextual image:

Context drone image

The garage face is where the array will go, and we are far enough away that surrounding trees will be included when we fly our orbit.  Now here’s an example of a detail image:

Drone detail image

Here we are much closer to the surface of interest.  The beauty of what Scanifly does is that it takes these disparate images (we used a total of 113 separate images) and stiches them together into a model from which you can do your layout.

Design Time

Now that the images have been upload and Scanifly creates the model - a process that takes about a day - we are ready to do our design.  The software allows you to build in “keepout” areas for things like fire setbacks, as well as obstructions like vents or skylights that cannot be moved.  You select the PV module that you will be using and then the software creates a placement for you that you can then modify as necessary.  Here’s what that looked like for this project:

We have placed the array at 18″ off the ridge, and we are really going from edge-to-edge!  (The yellow dots are the vertices that we marked in the model, the red line is our setback line.)  We are using LG 350’s as our modules, and we really have no room to spare - these dimensions have got to be right!  So how did we do?

Build It!

I have to say, I like how this turned out!  Click on the buttons to fade from the design image to the as-built (thanks to Sophia Mazurek for getting these images to line up).

How cool is that?

We’re hooked! Many thanks to the entire team at Scanifly - you have made our work safer, easier, and better!


No feedback yet

Form is loading...


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.

Ready to Save?

Let’s Get Started!

Give Us a Call!

626.793.6025 or

Click to Learn More About Commercial Solar Power!

We're Social!

Follow Run on Sun on Twitter Like Run on Sun on Facebook
Run on Sun helps fight Climate Change
b2evolution CMS