Lyra Solar Software Reviews
Lyra Solar Software Reviews
Ergonomics & Posture
Core Material Support
LyraSolar is the yet to launch solar permitting software created by the same team that created SolarDesignTool. SolarDesignTool is a design software to simplify the documentation that is required for the permitting and compliance of PV systems with the National Electric Codes (NEC) rating, your utility provider and Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). LyraSolar is a web application that will reduce the time required for permitting to 2 minutes a big jump from the 15 minutes that it currently takes using the SolarDesignTool. Since the LyraSolar tool is yet to be launched, while we eagerly await the social media announcement of the projects’ launch, we will dive into SolarDesignTool to better understand what we can expect from the people over at Verdiseno.
Solar Design Tool
Verdiseno CEO Derek Mitchell, claims Lyra to be a dawn of a new era of PV System Design and Permitting. The SolarDesign Tool has a 9 year, 1 million design delivered track record, with a high user rating, that lends a tremendous amount of credibility in their ability to deliver on their promises. SolarDesign Tool at its heart is a simple design software that takes users very quickly through a few simple steps to arrive at the parameters of the PV design. The platforms’ software technology then uses these parameters to provide a comprehensive documentation of the project site that can be readily submitted by owners or company professionals to the utility provider, AHJ and any other city/county authorities for approval processes prior to the construction work.
Solar Permit Package
To better understand what is the expectations of the PV sales & design software let us explore the requirements of the permitting and project planning.
1. PV Design Tools & Permitting Package
The design process for a solar system is an iterative process involving analysis of the various options that are optimal to the specific site. A solar software platform that is capable of delivering the system design, 3d model, or CAD drawings and additional features supporting the permit package required for complying with regulatory approvals by the AHJ and the utility provider, is rare.
2. Permitting a project management priority
In the residential solar sales market the permitting process can become an insurmountable bottleneck for the engineering professionals of PV installation companies. PV installation companies and customers alike have been caught unawares in the delays caused by permitting requirements. It will be of tremendous help for sales professionals and management of projects if, thanks to the help of suitable software, the process can be simplified.
Permitting can exasperate the installers and customers further by being unable to provide the satisfactory documentation required by the AHJ. Often, thanks in part to the installation companies’ sales employees lacking the necessary expertise, the documentation is not prepared in a manner that is acceptable to the AHJ. While the process time of the AHJ and the utility is beyond the control of installer or customer, the timely creation of the documentation is well within their control. Therefore, any software products with technology features that help the engineering management is valuable.
Solar Design Tool
1. Customer Details & Location Topography
The project starts with giving the project a name and input other details such as contact person, address and site location. Enabling the app to retrieve the clients’ relevant utility providers, codes & standards and the nearest weather data. Additional properties will allow users configuration of electrical services, details of the system owner, property owner, code compliance, AHJ and site structure & conditions. Site conditions allow you to explore details of the snow load information, topography, wind & humidity exposure. The environmental design parameters are drawn from the weather data and gives an estimate of the solar irradiance at the nearest weather data location.
2. Configuration of Projects’ Roofs
The roof space or ground area can be defined using a computer vision analysis over an aerial image or import a roof model created by EagleView or RoofOrders.com. The options allow use of RoofOrders.com’s export tool to bring in CAD files that allow one to define a realistic reflection of the solar panels on the roof; by defining the roof type, roof pitch, roof obstructions, height of the roof and the roof substructure. The roof substructure can be defined reasonably accurately by stating the trusses and the spacing between these stresses.
3. Fine-tuning the Layout
Users get to choose the arrays by choosing the solar modules that they would prefer to use and their choice of either micro-inverters or string inverters as suitable to the site. You can refine the layout thanks to preconfigured app setting list of setbacks from the edges, ridges and obstructions. Users get to choose the module mounting structure from the available choices and AutoCAD specifications of the mounting structures help during the documentation stages.
4. Permitting Package
Completing all these details manually leads to the completion of all the engineering parameters and provides a permit ready design. At this point you would be able to consider the requirements of the permitting package that is required by the Utility and the AHJ. The requirements of the AHJ may differ between specific locations or projects and this is the point at which SolarDesign Tool truly comes into its own.
Installers are provided the ability to choose the documents required and the file format in which the document needs to be created. Including, customizable details of customer & site information and setting the company logo of the project installer. The single-line-diagram that represents the electrical layout provides a document that creates an output that is acceptable to the AHJ approval process.
5. Balance of System Product List and Setting System Parameters
There is at this stage a preliminary design from the permitting perspective. The system’s power output at this stage is based on a reasonable estimate from the nearest weather data provided and the calculated energy models. There is no simulation of near or far shading influences or individual modules shading performance expectations during operations of the projects’ proposed system design. Adding balance of system factors such as cable sizing, cable routing, conduit sizing, electrical interconnection & safety and metering requirements needs to be done manually.
This aspect requires an understating of electrical requirements and NEC standards which are certainly not tools for use by a layman. Devices such as solar log base can also be specified. Solar log base is a product consisting of a device and software tools that allows for energy performance monitoring and energy management of your PV systems.
6. Permitting Package Documentation
The resulting documentation is a 10-14 page document that details the system beginning from the site location, products used, system details, single line diagram with cable sizing & cable lengths, warning labels and data sheets. And, the calculation of the electrical systems compliance with the required NEC rating, providing the resulting data is simplified which is of great benefit. While one could nitpick and bring to attention a few points that could be improved, altogether it is a reasonably effective document that the Utility inspector and the AHJ would find to be acceptable for the permitting requirements.
7. Alternative Operation Processes
The solar design tool can be redundant in someways for customers who are comfortable with or prefer to use other solar design softwares for their designing and estimation needs. Solar design tool’s abilities, given the leaning towards ease of permitting, is limited in design optimization and accuracy. The software doesn’t model your roof in a realistic way that allows you to factor in awnings and hips which are common features on residential roofs. Similarly the stringing of the modules is not an automated process. Which would be something that is immensely convenient.
Solar Design Tool User Review
Solar Design Tool Rating
The expectations of LyraSolar app are high, the claim of reducing the process from 15 minutes to 2 minutes is a bold claim. The customers who have been using Solar Design Tool for the past 9 years will attest to the value it has provided them. Reducing the design and permitting documentation time from days to minutes is an immense leap in the operations of installers.
The pricing for a user account, $50/user/month, is misleading. As is often the case, it is does not provide the complete picture of the costs that will be incurred by the installer. While the designs and datasheets that you could create are unlimited it does not help that you would need to pay a volume based price between $49-$85/permit to use the permit package feature for your project. You can revise each permit package as many times as you would like. This brings to light the question what is the net cost of the permitting process over the course of a month and what is the cost benefit of using the software process in comparison to the traditional permitting package methodology.
No Help in Commercial Solar
Commercial Solar is not particularly well supported with several disclaimers clearly stating the lack of support for larger projects. Possibly, thanks to commercial solar systems requiring more stringent energy rating and electricity standard requirements for projects that exceed the 100kW size of systems, make the permitting package difficult to create.
There would need to be some large leaps in the benefits of using Lyra Solar to be a valuable addition to the software tool kit by residential solar installers. It is indeed an addition to the tool kit because on its own Solar Design Tool has been unable to deliver all the features and services required.
In the Verdiseno iteration of Lyra Solar one would like to see design as a 3d model, customer sales proposals, solar pricing and financial projections; sales oriented options that would remove the redundancy of having to the design once on the sales oriented software and once again on the permitting oriented Lyra Solar.
LyraSolar features could also include;
- Project management
- Computer vision examination of topography
- Automation of proposal generation
- Priority list of products with categories, corresponding rating & AutoCAD models
- Service management
- Energy consumption & energy generation models
A simpler and possibly equally strong business model would be to allow for a deeper integration with solar sales software providers and utilize their design capabilities to create a robust permitting package platform. If Lyra Solar is able to take one step further and provide a portal for AHJ inputs & review management to the installers and the AHJ themselves; it will create a fully digital integration of the permitting process that will enhance its services beyond the 2 minute design claim.
Lyra Solar must be awaited with great anticipation, Solar Design Tool has been in the fray for years with claims to have generated 1 million designs. There is certainly a credible track record to bank on and one needs to see this as a good indication.