header_graphic
 Home | Earth Science | Energy | PR / Links | Contact
header_gradient
spacer
ESA Solar Rater Android App
Solar Rater Version 3.0 - Released 11/07/11 - Supports Android v.2.0 or higher (SDK 5+)

4 Solar Rater users are currently requesting quotes for their PV system
We need installers who use our Pro app to bid on these requests
Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to track new leads

solarrater_logo

Sizing A Solar Power System Has Never Been Easier!

Solar Rater makes it easy to determine the solar energy potential for any location on Earth, and it calculates the appropriate size for a photovoltaic (PV) system at that location. If you would like to know how much your solar power system will cost you can use our "Get A Quote" feature to let our Pro subscribers bid on your project.

Key Features

  • Auto location detection with GPS, Wi-Fi, or Cell Tower
  • Auto orientation detection measures the azimuth and tilt of your solar panels
  • Auto magnetic declination conversion gives azimuth based on true North
  • Auto solar radiation determination based on location and orientation (model result)
  • Outputs the appropriate size of a PV system in Watts-dc
  • Data can be entered manually for offsite usage
  • Street address can be automatically detected or used to look up lat/long
  • Outputs environmental benefits (e.g. GHG emissions, water saved, trees planted)
  • Great teaching tool for novices
  • Accurate results for solar energy professionals
  • Home and business owners can get a quote for their PV system
  • *Solar energy professionals can get quality leads for projects in their area
  • *Outputs the approximate number of panels and inverters from user input
  • *Save your projects and email the data to your colleagues
  • *Stay in contact with your clients using the built-in Call and Email tools
  • *Provides a satellite view of project location using Google Maps
  • *Calculates approximate space requirements and cash payback period from user input
  • *Switch between US and Metric units
  • *Change background colors for different lighting conditions

*only available in the Pro version

How To Get This App

This app is available in two versions: Solar Rater (free) and Solar Rater Pro ($4.99). Both are available in the Android Market and can be accessed using the following options:

  • Option 1: Scan the QR code on the left with your Android phone
  • Option 2: Click the "Available in Android Market" button on the left
  • Option 3: Search the Android Market for "Solar Rater" or "Solar Rater Pro"
solarrater_qr_code
Available in Android Market
 
Documentation for v.3.0
If these instructions don't match what you see in your Solar Rater app (e.g. different labels or buttons), then you probably need to update to the latest version.
home_screen Launch Screen:
This screen appears when the app loads, and when all of the sub-screens are closed. The following buttons can be used to open/close subscreens, load web-based resources, or open a list picker:
  • *Project - manage your projects and contact data
  • Step 1. Location - set your location
  • Step 2. Orientation - set your orientation
  • Step 3. Solar Radiation - set your solar energy potential
  • Step 4. PV System - calculate your solar power system size
  • Get A Quote - submit your project details to get a quote
  • *Get Leads - get quality leads for projects in your area
  • Instructions - basic instructions for automatic detection
  • Webpage - opens this page in a web browser
  • *Units - switch between US and Metric units
  • *Colors - change the background color

*only available in the Pro version

For accurate results you must complete Steps 1-4 in order, because each screen relies on data input from the previous screens. Documentation for each step is provided below.

 
home_screen

*Project Screen:
Use this screen to manage your solar projects and keep in touch with your clients.

  • *Save Button: save current data as a project; be sure to type the "Project Name" before saving
  • *Open Button: choose an existing project from a list; automatically populates all data fields with selected project data
  • *Hold Button: lock all fields in this screen; appears when the Edit button is pressed
  • *Edit Button: unlock all fields in this screen to enter data manually; appears when the Hold button is pressed
  • *Project Name: name of project
  • *Pick Contact Button: pick contact from Phone; automatically populates the Contact Name, Contact Phone, and Contact Email fields.
  • *Contact Name: first and last name of contact
  • *Call Contact Button: call contact
  • *Contact Phone: contact phone number
  • *Email Contact Button: send email to contact
  • *Contact Email: contact email address
  • *Electric Company: current electricity provider
  • *Notes: project notes
  • *Delete Project Button: delete the current project
  • *Email Project Button: share current project data via email

*only available in the Pro version

 
location_screen Step 1. Location:
Use this screen to automatically detect (or manually enter) the location of your solar panels.
  • GPS CheckBox: "check" for GPS positioning (more accurate); "uncheck" for network positioning (wi-fi or cell tower; adequate accuracy)
  • Detect Button: enable the location sensor and automatically determine your location
  • Hold Button: lock all fields in this screen and disable the location sensor (conserves battery); appears when the Edit and Detect buttons are pressed
  • Edit Button: unlock all fields in this screen to enter data manually; appears when the Hold button is pressed
  • Latitude: latitude in degrees (+North, -South)
  • Longitude: longitude in degrees (+East, -West)
  • Accuracy: the positioning source and accuracy are shown when the Detect button is pressed (accuracy within a few km is adequte)
  • Address: street address
  • Get Lat/Long From Address Button: look up the latitude and longitude for a manually entered address. This button appears when the "Edit" button is pressed.
 
orientation_screen Step 2. Orientation:
Use this screen to automatically detect (or manually enter) the orientation of your solar panels.
  • Detect Button: enable the orientation sensor and automatically determine your azimuth and pitch
  • Edit Button: unlock all fields in this screen to enter data manually; appears when the Azimuth and Tilt hold buttons are pressed
  • Azimuth and Tilt Hold Buttons: lock the azimuth and tilt fields separately; when both angles are locked the orientation sensor is disabled (conserves battery); these buttons appear when the Edit and Detect buttons are pressed
  • Azimuth: true North azimuth in degrees (i.e. direction the solar panels will be facing; +East, -West)
  • Tilt: tilt in degrees (i.e. tilt angle of the solar panels; 0 = flat, 90 = vertical)
  • Declination: angle between magnetic North and true North in degrees (internet required); this value is automatically determined and shown when the Detect button is pressed (varies with location and time; +East, -West)
 
insolation_screen Step 3. Solar Radiation:
Use this screen to automatically determine (or manually enter) how much solar energy will be received by your solar panels.
  • Get Value Button: get the solar radiation value for your location and orientation (internet required)
  • Hold Button: lock all fields in this screen; appears when the Edit button is pressed; appears when the Edit and Get Value buttons are pressed
  • Edit Button: unlock all fields in this screen to enter data manually; appears when the Hold button is pressed

Please Note: This app does not "measure" solar radiation - instead it queries solar radiation values from a database using your location and orientation values as input, and the returned insolation value is based on the best available solar energy datasets from NASA and NREL (includes meteorological data).

 
pv_input_screen

pv_output_screen

Step 4. PV System:
Use this screen to determine the size and environmental benefits of your solar power system. With the Pro version you can enter utility rates, solar panel and inverter details, and system cost factors to determine the approximate number of panels and inverters, total area, and cash payback period.

  • Calculate Button: calculate the size of your system based on your location, orientation, solar radiation, and required input on this screen (only the AC Energy Used, Solar Offset, and System Efficiency fields are required). When this button is pressed the input is hidden and the output appears.
  • Hold Button: lock all fields in this screen; appears when the Edit button is pressed
  • Edit Button: unlock all fields in this screen to enter data manually; appears when the Hold button is pressed.

---Input---

  • AC Energy Used (kWh/yr): enter the amount of electricity used at your location per year (e.g. use electric power bills to add up the amount of energy used at this location over the past year); this field is required
  • Solar Offset (%): enter the amount of electricity that you want to produce from solar panels as a percentage (e.g. enter 100 if you want to generate 100% of your electricity using solar panels); this field is required
  • System Efficiency (%): enter the efficiency of your PV system as a percentage; consider all dc to ac derate factors for the panels, inverters, wiring, connectors, soiling, and shading; the default value (80%) is a good estimate for most PV systems; this field is required
  • *Utility Cost ($/kWh): enter the rate paid for electricity per kWh (e.g. use electric power bills to add up the amount spent over the past year divided by the kWh/yr used); use the same currency in all financial fields; this field is optional
  • *Utility Escalator (%/yr): enter how much the electric utility rate increases every year as a percentage (e.g. compare the $/kWh from your most recent bill to a bill you received twelve months ago; in most areas utiliy rates increase by at least 3% every year); this field is optional
  • *Inverter rating (W): enter the power rating for each inverter in watts; this field is optional
  • *Panel rating (W): enter the peak power rating for each solar panel (a.k.a. module) in watts (pmax); this field is optional
  • *Panel Area (m² or ft²): enter the area for each solar panel (L·W) in m² or ft²; these units carry over to the Total Area output, so make a mental note of which units you're using; this field is optional
  • *AC System Cost ($/W): enter cost per AC watt of the solar power system including all parts and labor; this field is optional
  • *AC Rebate ($/W): enter applicable rebate per AC watt; this field is optional
  • *Tax Credit (%): enter applicable tax credit as a percentage; this field is optional

---Output---

  • Min. DC System Size (W): minimum size of solar array in DC watts (i.e. the combined peak power rating of your solar panels must equal or exceed this number in order to meet your Solar Production goal)
  • *Number of PV Panels: number of solar panels required
  • *DC Array Rating (kW): DC power rating of the solar array based on your panel input
  • *AC Array Rating (kW): AC power rating of the solar array based on your panel input
  • *Number of Inverters: number of inverters required
  • *Total Area (m² or ft²): total space required to mount the solar panels; units match the Area Per Panel input
  • *Total Cost ($): total cost for the solar power system
  • *Average Savings ($/yr): average annual savings on your electric utility bills
  • *Cash Payback Period (yr): return on investment period assuming cash payment
  • *GHG Emissions Cut (lbs/yr): approximate amount of green house gas (GHG) emissions cut by this solar power system (i.e. compared to electricity produced from fossil fuels)
  • *Water Saved (gal/yr): approximate amount of water saved by this solar power system (i.e. compared to electricity produced from fossil fuels)
  • *Equivalent Trees Planted: approximate number of trees that would have to be planted in order to eliminate the same amount of GHG emissions as this solar power system
  • *Equivalent Cars Eliminated: approximate number of cars that would have to be retired in order to eliminate the same amount of GHG emissions as this solar power system

*only available in the Pro version

 
pv_output_screen

Get A Quote:
To request a quote complete Steps 1-4 above and then click the Request Quote button to send us an email with your project details. You will then receive a verification email within 24 hours. Once we receive your reply we will post your request in our Leads dataset that is available to Solar Rater Pro subscribers. Quote requests will remain in our system for 60 days, or you can use the Cancel Request button to send us an early termination request via email.

  • Request Quote Button: once you have completed steps 1-4 press this button to submit your Quote Request
  • Cancel Request Button: if you wish to cancel a previous Quote Request use this button to send us an early termination request via email; it can take up to 24 hours for your Quote Request to be removed from our Leads database

Disclaimer:
Persons and/or companies who are interested in providing you with a quote will contact you with information about their services. Before providing additional information to anyone you should carefully review the information they provide to ensure that they are fully licensed, insured, and bonded to provide solar services in your area and are able to provide the services you need. Our company, Earth Science Agency LLC, does not guarantee that any information provided by a person or company responding to your Quote Request is accurate, and we are not responsible for any damages or problems that you may encounter. It is up to you, the person submitting the Quote Request, to verify all information.

 

 
pv_output_screen

Get Leads:
By subscribing to this service you can review the Quote Requests that have been submitted by Solar Rater users, and you will be able to contact these users to provide a quote for your services. For now this service is in Beta, so it is free for all Solar Rater Pro users. In the near future this service will require an additional paid subscription.

  • *View Leads Button: press this button to open our Leads dataset as a Google Docs spreadsheet; we recommend using your Browser to complete this request.

*only available in the Pro version

Disclaimer:
This service should only be utilized by solar professionals who are fully licensed, bonded, and insured to work in the area designated in the Quote Request. Our company, Earth Science Agency LLC, does not guarantee that the information provided in any Quote Request is accurate, and we are not responsible for any damages or problems that you may encounter. It is up to you, the person submitting the Quote, to verify all information. Anyone found to be abusing this service or Quote Requesters will be banned immediately and will no longer be able to access our Leads dataset.

 

 
Troubleshooting:
  • Azimuth reading is not accurate:
    Solar Rater relies on Android's built-in orientation sensor to determine the azimuth, which can give erroneous results for several reasons.
    Solution: Hold your Android device like a compass (i.e. level facing up so you can read the screen); and point the top (NOT the screen) of the device in the direction your solar panels will be facing. The orientation sensor will give results when tilted, but like a compass, the azimuth is more accurate when the device is level. You can calibrate the azimuth by holding your Android device and moving your hand rapidly in a figure-8 pattern while slowly tilting your phone to vertical and back to flat (keep doing this until your readings are accurate).
  • Web resources unavailable (e.g. 404 errors):
    Solar Rater relies on web-based resources, so if your phone is not connected to the internet, or the required web resources are unavailable, errors will occur.
    Solution: Make sure your phone is connected to the internet, and if the problem persists the required websites may be experiencing technical difficulties, so you'll have to wait until the resources are available before proceeding.
  • Calculation errors (e.g. divide by 0, null value, or bad arguments):
    Calculation errors can occur if the input data is invalid or if you are using commas as a decimal delimiter.
    Solution: Go through the steps in order and make sure the values on each screen are valid before proceeding to the next step. Please Note: if your devices uses commas instead of periods to separate decimal values you must change your keyboards settings so that periods are used (e.g. change QWERTY settings to English).
 

Release Notes:

v.3.0 - 11/7/11

  • Added "Get A Quote" feature
  • Added "Get Leads" feature (only Pro users can view leads)
  • Added Inverter Rating (PV input screen) and Number of Inverters (PV output screen) to Pro version
  • Altered Instructions button so it now loads an external webpage
  • Added Units list picker to Pro version so you can switch between U.S. and Metric units
  • Added Color list picker to Pro version so you can change the background color of the app
  • Changed some labels
  • Added Map button to the Location screen in the Pro version
  • Added new options to the Project screen in the Pro version including Pick Contact button, Contact Name textfield, Email Contact button, Contact Email text field, Call Contact button, Contact Phone text field, and Electric Company text field
  • Added Address text field and Get Address From Lat/Long button to free version

v.2.3 - 9/30/11

  • Fixed problem when manually updating orientation
  • Changed some labels
  • Added AC Energy Produced (kWh/yr) to Pro version

v.2.2 - 9/28/11

  • Updated the user interface
  • Addressed element resizing issues
  • Addressed freezing/crashing issues
  • Changed some labels and data entry fields including how system cost, rebates, and tax credits are entered
  • Updated calculation for system sizing

v.2.1 - 9/2/11

  • Simplified method for calculating PV system efficiency; now all derating factors are manually defined as a percentage in the System Efficiency field (in the PV System Input table). In previous versions some derating factors were automatically factored in, which was causing some confusion.
  • Added DC and AC Array Ratings to PV System Output table in the Pro version

v.2 - 8/31/11

  • Updated the user interface
  • Addressed element resizing issues
  • Added environmental benefits to PV System output
  • Added notifier messages
  • Released Pro Version with more options including: project save/open/email options; street address detect and look-up options; and more PV input/output options for detailed analysis

v.1 - 8/19/11

  • Initial release
 
References:
  • NASA ASDC: used to determine the surface meteorology and solar energy based on location
  • PV Watts: used to determine the solar irradiation adjustment based on location and orientation
  • NOAA NGDC: World Magnetic Model used to determine the magnetic declination based on location and time
 

Resources:

footer

Home | Earth Science | Energy | PR / Links | Contact
Copyright © 2003-2012 Earth Science Agency, LLC - All Rights Reserved