The Idea behind Solar TOU

The primary ambition associated with the project was to build a mechanism for the calculation and estimation of the cost and payback period for the installation of solar panels for domestic use. Furthermore, this solar portal was also designed to provide solar users adequate information and technical guidance related to sunlight availability, roof structure, solar installation guidelines, Time Of Use concept, two-way connection, and other solar power concepts. Development of such an all-inclusive and modern web-based portal imparting the concepts of solar technology and electrical engineering was a demanding responsibility. This case study narrates the major milestones involved in the System Development Life Cycle(SDLC) of the solar power portal.

Solar power portal analysis

The underlying strategy behind Solar TOU was to establish an efficient platform for homeowners to evaluate the level of expenditure and benefits and to judge the favorability associated with getting a solar power unit installed for the domestic generation of electricity at their homes. The availability of such a platform also becomes a social necessity as it concerns with environmental concerns of renewable energy, energy consumption, and others. Owing to its location and climatic conditions, California is among the most sunlight abundant states in the US. Utility providers here, including SDG&E, also produce a substantial amount of electricity from renewable sources of energy like Solar and Wind power.

'In the first week of using the app, I showed a customer who is also an Engineer - He really saw how well it worked. No one else in this 20-year-old industry had anything near this. He bought his system based on the tool as proof of our capability' - Scott O.

The Course of Development

User Research & Process Study

The development of Solar TOU was preceded by a thorough study of the technical, economic, and financial prospects of the electricity generation and distribution processes with respect to solar integration. Considering that the end-benefactors of the use of the platform would be homeowners, the analysis phase of the Software Development Life Cycle of the solar based project involved user research, resulting in the addition of a number of informative components into the reports which would provide adequate financial and time-related data to the homeowners. This, in turn, would help them to decide whether to go for solar or not.

Constituting the Algorithms

The real hurdles to be crossed in order to create this phenomenal solar based software were the structuring, development, and integration of the complex algorithms, formulas, and logics which would translate the actual calculation, estimation and comparison process for the cost and payback period associated with the installation of solar power panels. The software developers at W3villa brought to use a number of software development tools and technologies in the project, namely ROR(Ruby on Rails), MySQL, Jquery, Sidekiq, Redis, S3 Bucket, and others. Working with a strict agile approach, the evaluation & corrections were performed at every stage to ensure the desired accomplishments in the results.

Solar power analysis

UI & Functionality

The front-end development of the software called for a design that’s both visually attractive and interactive! That is, both User Interface(UI) & User Experience(UX) of the solar panel website had to be well optimised for making an appeal to the users looking forward to install solar panels at their homes. The functionality and look of the solar panel portal were so designed to accommodate and represent the required data included in the reports for analysis in the most appreciable and decent manner. This data and information is of much relevance and value for both solar companies and homeowners alike.

Additional Features & Support

A number of interactive and exemplary features and supports were given significance in the entire project, notable ones include:

  1. Multiple Utility Provider support

    Compatibility with other utility providers in the region, besides SDG&E(San Diego Gas & Electric) & SCE(Southern California Edison) was taken into account.

  2. Quality Data Processing

    Accurate and responsible storage, processing, filtering, and representation of data was another critical requirement of the solar based system.

  3. Regional Estimation

    Regional estimation is a notable feature within Solar TOU which enables the preparation of a rough estimation data based on regional parameters.

  4. Smart Comparison

    The web portal on solar power has built-in handy comparison tools to help solar companies dictate the resulting benefits of solar installation for homes to the customers.

Coordination & Testing

The integration and coordination of the multiple individual modules working behind the system was very crucial to the success of the project. This was another significant challenge for our software developers which required active co-ordination and inquisition with the client and project managers. Testing with RSpec was performed throughout the project to test every module and functionality running behind it. Case Scenarios from the client’s side were dealt with the utmost examination as the project progressed through stages. Several testing parameters and tools were employed by the software testers which assured the entire team of the competence of the system.

The application further assists solar companies by evaluating the technical feasibility concerning a solar project, and to give ideal directives to their clients.

Outcomes & Future Capabilities

Subsequently, Solar TOU has been developed considering its capability to tackle the situations and requirements of the future scenarios and to expand its horizons in the most flexible way it can. There is still a lot to come with the release of this potential tool. To conclude, the project was a challenging, yet inspiring one for the W3villa team owing to its technical complexity and meeting schedules with the client with often arduous timings. However, proper management and scrupulous examination of the processes helped resolve these issues. Owing to its success attributes, Solar TOU proves to be an exquisite example of excellence!

'The solar industry was struggling to get accurate calculations for Time of Use. In December 2017, we started working with W3villa and by February of 2018 - the team had developed a fully operational system to efficiently, accurately and quickly calculate a customer's future bill on Time of Use. We look forward to the additional features being added.' - Eric G.