Aurora Solar Review

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Aurora Energy Estimation & Solar Design

#1 Rated articles - A+ Rating

Aurora Solar Review

8.7/ 10
786 Votes

Modules

9.7 /10

Inverters

9.2 /10

Utility Rates

8.6 /10

Incentives

7.8 /10

Financing

9.1 /10

Financial & Proposal Templates

8.4 /10

Accessories

8.1 /10

Jurisdictions

8.7 /10

Founded in 2012 by Sam & Chris, Aurora Solar based in San Francisco, delivers what they saw as a vital need for solar installers. Having to learn system design from their own experience installing solar system for a school in East Africa, they saw that the design and analysis of the solar system took longer than the actual sourcing and installation. Sam & Chris saw this as a bottleneck in the process that needs to be eliminated to increase the proliferation of solar energy.

The residential solar market can be addressed by a standardized solar design in the form of DIY kits that can serve the purposes of most customers. However, this approach is increasingly out of vogue because customers prefer a customized design suitable to their specific energy consumption & the energy production in estimated kWh forecast. The solar system design will need to consider factors such as the panels’ location, system size, battery preferences (such as Tesla PowerWall) and the customer’s price consciousness or affordability & the applicable tax incentives.

Aurora Solar

Database

The simplicity of Aurora Solar depends on creating the correct parameters of engineering design. Before solar providers begin using Aurora Solar for all their solar engineering design and project design, the configurations will need to be completed.

Modules

You are presented with the full database of modules from major solar panel manufacturers. You get to create preferred or most used favorites that are commonly used or available to you, the solar installer.

Inverters

A full list of inverters is also available to you to choose. From which, it is prudent to choose a few preferred make and models that are ideally suited to project types. At the design stage the Aurora energy modeling allows you to give a few options for the system design to be based upon rather than a rigid single choice.

For both modules and inverters or micro inverters you could also use a generic Aurora model which helps create proposals without committing to a manufacturer at the configuration stage, thereby allowing some flexibility at the execution stage. The equipment reviews based on the power production, PV systems’ review by company employees and cost, can be considered to choose the modules and inverters at the time of installation.

Utility Rates

You choose particular utility rates that are applicable for your project based on the utility companies available. Aurora Solar will populate all the rates options that are available for residential and commercial.

Incentives

The options for incentives both federal and state can be configured, along with particular tax implications applicable for commercial installations as default. These settings can be fine tuned to specific customers during the creation of the financial proposal. Incentives could be multiple and also include EV incentives or tariffs.

Financing

The financing options can be created and favorited for convenient quick access. Choosing between, cash, loan, lease or PPA models as applied to the customer, from different providers with different rates and periods. The pre-configuration and shortlisting makes the speed of creating the sales proposals that much more impressive.

Financial & Proposal Templates

Individual targeted proposals per customer segment can be created with several easily editable options that can be customized as per branding, marketing and sales communication requirements that are suitable to each individual company’s exacting standards.

Accessories

Other accessories, installations and configurations can be configured that have been determined through experience to be applicable to the majority of the projects and requirements of the customer segments.

Jurisdictions

Customization and notes for particular jurisdictions can be used to specify regulatory and compliance requirements such as building codes and fire codes applicable to counties, city or zoning requirements. Setbacks from edges or eaves can be predefined as per regional regulation requirements.

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Project Considerations

Both residential and commercial solar design are largely similar, with a few differences and additional details required in both cases where the purposes diverge from each other. For example; mostly flat roof and standing seam metal roof or standard seam metal roofs are applicable for commercial projects, whereas pitched roofs are applicable for residential projects.

Location

In Aurora Solar, much like its industry peers, the process starts with the address of the location or geographic coordinates and therefore determines the state or jurisdiction that is applicable to that location.

Utility

The utility provider is chosen, thereby enabling to choose from the multiple tariffs available. You get to choose the type of installation, residential or commercial, here the applicable billing and tariffs are chosen including demand charges in the case of commercial installation.

Energy Consumption

The energy consumption can be provided as individual bills for few months and Aurora Solar models the energy usage and the bills for the remaining months in the year based on the statistically available information for the specific location. The full years information as monthly bills, CSV file or Green Button data could also be provided increasing the accuracy of the energy consumption model. The energy model can be refined by an Hourly Load Profile or factoring in EV charging requirements (with specific car models and mileage estimations), Pool, Air Conditioning, Heating & Hot Water requirements, Lighting and Base Loads.

This allows refining the energy consumption profile based on these factors and depending on Aurora energy simulation and estimation capabilities to derive a consumption and load profile that accurately reflects the customer’s usage profile. The commercial choice allows you to choose the type of building and therefore pre-load the most appropriate energy consumption profile that is typical for that particular usage in that region.

Smart Solar Roof

The smart solar roof design is as simple to use as it is intuitive. Aurora Solar’s software and simulation ability really shines through here by creating a 3D model of the roof in no time at all. For an experienced Aurora Solar user this would be quickly executed and rely on Aurora rendering the roof accurately. LIDAR data that is available can be used to fit the created 3D model to fix the exact roof locations.

Obstacles on the roof can be easily added based on standard shapes. The aurora software would also pick out similar shapes automatically shortening the time required to find and highlight each obstacle of similar type. Adding a few nearby trees is convenient thanks to the satellite imagery and the split screen option that allows you to get a perspective and street view of the building, enabling a better understanding of the location. Further enhanced by the LIDAR function, tree heights and shapes can be more accurately compared. Roof keep outs and setbacks, as set in jurisdictions at the database pre-configuration stage, is automatically loaded for the location reducing the effort needed for site specific adjustments

Solar Irradiance

The solar irradiance simulation now compares the designed roof to the TMY data to provided an accurate rendering of the best locations for installation of the solar panels.

Solar System Design

Aurora Solar allows the placement of modules to be done manually or automatically based on the demarcated roof, particular zone or predetermined minimum performance requirements. Stringing and inverter choice can also be done automatically on the basis of a few choices of inverter and specific DC-AC ratio targets.

Savings Estimation

Energy offset, utility bill offset, monthly bill savings and the comparison between solar electricity production & consumption can be calculated. The simulation engine calculates and highlights the solar system’s performance metric. Specific attributable sources of loss, that effect the annual yield or the performance ratio of the solar installation, can be identified

Prices

System prices cost calculator allows costing based on Cost per Watt or Line Item pricing. Panel prices, inverters and individual services can be valued separately providing the cost of the solar power project.

Finance Options & Proposals

Financing options such as Cash, Loan, Lease or PPA can be chosen to be included in the proposal and therefore financial projection on the basis of these options and the respective cumulative and annual financial projections, payback and returns calculations can be completed.

Aurora sales proposals with customized pages can be created and printed or exported to pdf. The premium Aurora subscription allows additional outputs such as; bill of materials, bankable shading report, and editable single line diagrams.

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Customer Service

There are three levels of service in Aurora Solar basic, premium and custom; starting from $135 per user per month. The basic will meet most residential solar installer requirements, larger organizations will certainly benefit from the advanced features such as LIDAR, battery storage and dedicated customer service available in the premium & custom pricing levels. Support for 3D modeling, proposal template design and business process customization is available as additional paid services.

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Conclusion

Aurora solar is a cloud based software that is best suited for solar system design. The speed of creation of a sales proposal as compared to the industry average is noteworthy. Aurora Solar’s software is a vital tool for being able to quickly and accurately design and deliver sales proposals to customers. Despite efforts to standardize, the requirements of each customer is unique and therefore flexibility without compromising on quality becomes vital for operational efficiency. The cloud based design software for solar Aurora provides, allows the solar installers to reduce the requirement of site visits by being able to conduct site analysis remotely.