surveying for solar with a drone

Solar Site Surveys With A Drone – How Do They Work?

When time is money, minutes make a big difference in profitability and overall success. Any extra time spent on one solar project means less time spent on new sales and installs. Solar companies hoping to cut creation costs and get ahead in a competitive industry simply can’t afford bottlenecks. Drones, along with an automated solution such as IMGING are the answer to keeping solar surveys streamlined, customers content, and business booming.  

Without drone technology, a solar site survey can take over an hour to complete, and often require multiple employees, visits, and pieces of equipment. Even after measurements are taken and sketches are done, a designer will still have to create detailed plans in a CAD program—assuming the surveyors gathered information accurately. If they didn’t, you might waste time on a second visit to the property. 

Drone solar site surveys increase speed and quality, improving the entire solar panel process by generating better data with less risk of injury or errorWith more accurate measurements, a simplified design process, automated reports, and other benefits of a drone platform, solar professionals are reducing creation costs by getting more work done, faster. 

Without an Automated Solution—Manual Drone Flight 

Keep in mind, the solar drone process will change depending on whether you fly the drone manually or use an automated solution. The process outlined below details how quick and simple a solar inspection can be when using an automated drone platform. Knowing how to fly manually is an important failsafe to have, should you need to land suddenly, should you get too close to obstacles, or should you want to photograph areas and angles that are outside your flight plan. However, manual flight is extremely limited in terms of capability and efficiency, and it does not provide everything you need to create optimal solar panel sets. For solar site surveys, you really need something more powerful.   

With an Automated Solution 

For solar site surveys, a drone used along with an app like IMGING is really the way to go. This kind of automation software for solar installers will give them everything they need in one solution, from streamlined surveys to horizon imagery, and even 3D models with mounting planes that can be directly exported into CAD for quickly created designs. With an automated solution, each of the following steps and the solar inspection process are both facile and fruitful.  

Drone Solar Site Survey Process:  

  1. Create a flight plan: This is done in the IMGING app, prior to launching the droneThe flight plan is as simple as outlining the roof and approving an auto-generated plan. This can be done in less than a minute 
  2. Set up the hardware: This is as simple as setting the drone on the ground and turning it on. Boom. Hardware set up.  
  3. Fly an automated flight: Many automated flights can capture all the roof imagery necessary for the survey in as little as 10 minutes. With less time spent on image-capture, and with more reliable data, its easy to see how an automated drone solution can reduce creation costs for solar companies.  
  4. Add ground photos: You can add pictures of attics, service panels, etc. into the same job where you’ll find your drone images. This ensures that you get everything you need on each site.  
  5. Upload imagery: As the drone lands after the flight the photos move from the drone to the tablet, then from the tablet to the cloud with the press of a button. At that point, the information can be handed over to CAD designers who can access it in the web version of IMGING.
  6. Create Plan Sets: With all this detailed data uploaded in the app, CAD designers have the full scope; they can view all imagery, identify penetrations, create horizon reports, and export flattened models (including mounting planes) right into CAD to finalize plan sets. 


Having knowledge of a drone-based solar survey process will help you transform your company’s processes and set you up for success in the future. An automated solution takes solar site surveys from better to best in half the time, leaving you to focus on making your customers happy and growing your business.  


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