Shortly after its founding, Blue Raven’s leadership determined it needed an alternative to sending estimators up on roofs. “Climbing up to take measurements increases the time it takes to complete a site estimate,” says Jeffrey Benson, Director of Design. “Rooftop estimates have to be scheduled when someone is available. Someone really good can do five roofs a day. At nearly $300 per estimate, that is frankly expensive. And then there is the liability issue in putting someone up on roof. We felt there had to be a better way.”
Blue Raven adopted remote estimation to replace rooftop surveys, using Aurora Solar design software. The software was integrated by default with satellite imagery, but the images were not sharp enough or timely enough for Blue Raven’s needs. Nearmap’s high-resolution imagery offers excellent clarity at 2.8” GSD, which provides better visual detail than satellite-based imagery.
Unlike other imagery providers, Nearmap captures major US cities (nearly 70% of total US population) multiple times per year. So Nearmap’s solution is uniquely timely. Orthographically rectified imagery is typically published and online within days of capture—providing immediate access.
“You have to be able to make out small features,” Benson says. “If you have a black painted pipe sticking out of a dark roof, it could interfere with or shade the arrays. You may not see that clearly enough on a satellite image.”
Faster, more cost-efficient estimates – With Aurora Solar and Nearmap, and lower hourly rates paid to estimators, a remote estimate costs $50-$100, versus up to $300 for an onsite rooftop estimate. With the ability to estimate remotely, Blue Raven was able to increase the volume of estimates by 8x per day.
Increased accuracy – Nearmap’s high resolution imagery reduces rework/resubmissions on proposals, lowers project cancellation rates, and ensures the best possible customer experience.
Timely images – “The frequency of flyovers with Nearmap is a big advantage. Our estimates can change because of changes in nearby structures or tree heights, so having very current imagery is important.”
Blue Raven Solar, a two-year-old firm based in American Fork, UT, has gone from 3 employees to over 500 nationwide and has become a top solar originator in the US (currently serving 10 states). Its mission is to provide homeowners across the US with simple, affordable solar technol- ogy solutions. The company has installed solar panels on thousands of homes, and provides estimates on approximately 100 installations per day.