Project Plan Sets
Project Plan Sets
Developing a standardized template for your company’s plan sets creates consistent formatting and minimizes drafting time for subsequent plans. Your template should include a title block that...
For large commercial, low-slope roof installations, a fully dimensioned roof plan is one of the most important system drawings. A well designed and documented roof plan minimizes construction crew...
The PV electrical system should be documented in a one-line drawing at a minimum. Three-line drawings offer greater detail and clarify connection points for conductors within the combiners,...
Structural drawings are typically the most scrutinized elements of the plan set. Including as much detail as possible streamlines permitting and ensures that structural elements of the installation...
To help convey the design team’s intentions and clarify specific installation requirements, detail drawings are typically included in project plan sets. For example, clearly depicting line-side...
Additional plan set elements may include elevation drawings, which show all the components’ locations and positions. This minimizes in-the-field installation decisions, reduces the possibility for...
Inside this Article
As the number of PV installations has increased, so has the ability of building departments to deal effectively with permitting and inspection. Additionally, in response to increasing competition, businesses have begun to streamline their operations, not only during the physical installation but also in the preinstallation process. As a result, the ability to quickly and clearly document PV systems on paper is becoming more important throughout the entire PV project, from the initial concept stage through construction and commissioning.
In order to properly plan for and permit a PV system of any consequential size, you need to develop a good plan set. While plan sets need not be exhaustive and outline every detail, in general the more detailed the plan set is, the better the quality assurance during installation and commissioning. A comprehensive plan set is the first step to providing your customers with a long-lived PV system, one that meets or exceeds their aesthetic and performance requirements.
THE ARGUMENT FOR PLAN SETS
In general, PV system plan sets serve two main purposes: plan review and project implementation. The plan set needs to provide adequate information for the AHJ permitting and inspecting your PV system. It also needs to outline the information required to optimally install and commission the PV system. When you are incorporating a PV system into a new construction project, the PV plan set needs to merge seamlessly with the overall construction plans.
Plan review. Photovoltaic is no longer a foreign word within building departments and planning offices. The proliferation of utility-tied PV systems has forced local jurisdictions to streamline permitting and inspection processes in order to expedite installations. Many jurisdictions implement prescriptive methods for permitting, installing and inspecting these systems. Some jurisdictions document their requirements and provide examples of the final product they require. The regulations range from simple one-page checklists to multi-page documents describing all aspects of the permitting and inspection process. One requirement that appears consistently, regardless of jurisdiction or installation type, is a set of drawings that shows system components, locations and wiring details.
Requirements for plan sets vary across the country. In general, however, the minimum requirements specify legible drawings on paper that is no smaller than 11-by-17 inches in size, with contact information included; drawings must be to scale or fully dimensioned. While computer generated drawings are not required, the use of computer-aided design (CAD) programs makes it possible to generate clear and detailed documentation that greatly simplifies the plan review stage. You can include common elements, such as company information, in a template that can be used on future jobs, further improving your efficiency.
Project implementation. System complexity is another driving force for generating plan sets. A large number of details need to be identified for proper PV system installation. As PV systems increase in size, design and engineering teams often draft the project plans, and a separate construction team implements them. Therefore, clear and accurate plan sets are essential to keep everyone acting in unison. Construction crews are accustomed to building projects from complete plan sets, so providing full size sets should be your standard operating procedure for any commercial PV installation.
Large scale projects often involve multiple construction crews. The project size, availability of personnel or state licensing requirements may dictate more than one crew. For example, there may be a ground or roof crew that prepares the site for the racking system to be installed; a construction crew that installs the racking or support system; an electrical crew that installs the modules and balance of system equipment; and, finally, a commissioning crew that verifies proper installation and commissions the system. Plan sets ensure that everyone is aware of the project as a whole, maintaining a cohesive installation. They also allow the different crews to verify the installation procedures and processes that either preceded them or follow their portion of the job.
When you include specific detail drawings in the plan set, the construction crew can more easily decipher the engineer’s intent. At the same time, if the construction or electrical personnel need to make a field modification or if they need clarification, having plan sets available makes the communication process simpler. Inevitably, field crews come across something that does not go according to plan, and they need to make modifications. Of course, one of the main goals for the design team should be to identify potential onsite issues and reduce the number of these modifications.