Project Management: Facilitating a Seamless Solar System Installation

Steve Burns

It’s 6:30 a.m. at a job site in New Jersey. The sun is just coming up, and it will be at least two hours before the client arrives, but the work has already started at this solar installation. Delivery trucks pull in carrying a myriad of racking, module, and inverter components. Crews of installers receive their daily “marching-orders” and review safety protocols before beginning to transfer the newly delivered equipment to the roof of the facility. Orchestrating all of these efforts, as well as coordinating with the local town building department, utility company, and engineers, are Project Managers.Project Managers ensure that the solar installation process runs smoothly and efficiently with as little impact on the client’s daily operations as possible. Among the many factors contributing to the seamless installation of a solar project, there are two main processes that require special attention: the delivery of materials and the solar tie-in.

Ensuring Orderly Deliveries

The prudent planning of all equipment deliveries well ahead of time is critical to minimizing disruptions due to the construction process. Delivery trucks, staging & loading areas, roof access, and machinery are necessary considerations for all commercial solar installations, and requested unloading areas must be approved prior to any equipment arrival. Pre-construction meetings allow project managers to gather a thorough understanding of the client's facility and operations.An average install might require anywhere from 10 to 20 delivery truck loads of materials. Installations utilize a number of different components: solar modules, racking hardware, inverters, AC electrical equipment, ballast blocks, monitoring equipment, wire spools, dura blocks, tools, dumpsters, port-o-johns, safety material, etc. Project managers aim to receive the delivery of the major equipment (panels, inverters, racking, and AC gear) within the first few days of mobilizing on-site. These deliveries make up 85% of the total equipment required. They coordinate getting as much material as allowed up to the roof level within the first few days to minimize the footprint on the ground. For the remainder of the project, the project managers can limit the deliveries to a few trucks a week in order to mitigate the amount of traffic in and out of the client’s facility. Project managers take special care of understanding the client’s day-to-day operations to best accommodate business as usual.

Arranging an Efficient Solar Tie-In

Another major event that takes place during installation is the solar tie-in. This event requires that the client’s electricity is shut down, often by the utility. The shutdown allows electricians to make the final AC terminations within the specified electrical equipment. Understanding the customer’s electrical infrastructure, load profile, and IT setup is obligatory. PowerFlex’s project managers have to be extremely flexible when scheduling a shutdown and often complete tie-ins overnight or on the weekend when it is less disruptive to facility operations. Project managers also have to coordinate with the client’s IT department to determine what is required for servers and IT systems to come back online quickly.With over a decade of experience, PowerFlex continues to provide world-class solar installation services to corporate clients with careful consideration of each company’s needs. These activities can be handled smoothly with the proper planning and communication. Our expert project managers work closely with clients to create and adhere to construction schedules and ensure uninterrupted business operations on-site. If you are interested in going solar, PowerFlex can provide a tailored, complimentary technical and financial analysis based on your real estate portfolio, energy usage, and available state and utility incentives. PowerFlex is agnostic to project structuring and provides a turnkey solar solution for corporate clients. You can reach us at