How Land Surveyors Can Improve Solar Energy Output

As the energy needs of the world continue to grow, there is more interest in diversifying the way we generate that energy. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are generating more buzz all the time, and stand poised to emerge as a very profitable arm of the energy industry in their own right.

In the case of solar, lower prices for solar panels has helped make the idea of utility-grade solar projects a reality. At the same time, solar project managers need to make sure that they organize their work in the most cost-effective manner possible. While the environmental benefits of solar are impossible to deny, it must also make sense from a business perspective before it can really start to catch on in a big way.

In this post, we’ll explore the issue of solar land surveying and how it can help solar project managers get the best results possible.

Properly Positioning Solar Panels

The key to achieving the best possible results from any solar project is to position as many panels as possible into the land available to the project and to make sure those panels are all collecting as much energy as possible.

Many in the solar industry have focused on the concept of orientation, believing that positioning panels in a portrait or landscape orientation can help them pack more panels into a particular length or width of land. However, when one considers the issue of shading—the amount of space that has to be positioned between each panel in order for both to function at full power—orientation usually has little or no effect on how many panels can be positioned in a particular area.

Instead, it makes more sense to focus on how you position your panels, which is where solar land surveying really comes into play. Proper positioning of solar panels includes accounting for things like how many sunny hours a particular area gets on an average day, how elevation and shading effect the ability of panels to function properly, and how much time and energy would need to go into getting the area ready for development. With modern solar land surveying techniques such as laser scanning, organizations can gather detailed data that can be used to create accurate digital models of the area in question. This makes it very easy to make decisions about how solar panels should be positioned in order to create the most powerful, cost-efficient grid possible.

Completing Solar Land Surveying Quickly

Land surveying has the potential to be a tremendous source of value for solar projects, but if it isn’t completed in a timely manner, it can also serve as a bottleneck that delays return on investment for the project.

One of the key factors in establishing utility-grade solar projects is size. The larger a solar project is, the more energy it produces, and the more it’s able to take advantage of economies of scale. Increasing the size of a solar project also has the potential to make solar land surveying take even longer than it would for a more modest project.

This is why taking advantage of modern land surveying techniques such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can be so beneficial for solar projects. UAVs, also known as drones, are able to complete their work much faster than traditional land surveying methods. UAVs are able to cover even very large areas in a reasonable amount of time, helping to put solar projects on the fast track to completion and profitability.

To learn more about land surveying techniques for the solar industry, and how they can help provide better results for your solar project, contact Landpoint today.


The Advantages of Pairing Land-Based and UAV Surveys

The enthusiasm surrounding unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is high for both hobbyists and industry professionals, so it’s no surprise to see that this enthusiasm is now moving into the world of land surveying. UAV surveys have many benefits for large construction projects: everything from increased speed to greater cost efficiency. Not to mention how UAVs can survey hard to reach areas. However, it’s important to keep in mind that UAVs need cannot completely replace land-based surveying.

Even the most ardent fan of UAV surveys is sure to find certain circumstances where land-based surveying is the preferable option. The key is knowing how to properly balance these two options, in a way that helps you fully take advantage of both, while also avoiding the drawbacks of each. In this post, we’ll explore a few of the reasons why UAV surveys are not right for all situations, and how land-based surveying can fill in those gaps.

Dealing With Weather And Environmental Conditions

First, weather and environmental conditions can make UAV surveys difficult or impossible to perform on some projects. For example, flying UAVs in very high winds can be very difficult. Of course, you can always wait for conditions to improve before trying again, but avoiding delays is one of the key reasons most surveyors use UAVs in the first place. Using land-based surveying can help you stay on schedule and ensure you get the data you need during certain non-flyable weather conditions such as high winds.

In addition, UAVs are currently incapable of carrying any devices that can see through water, vegetation, and other obstacles. If an area you’re surveying has limited visibility that will prevent UAVs from working to their full capacity, you will, of course, need land-based surveyors to take up the slack in those areas.

Ensuring Regulatory Compliance

In the early days of drones, strict federal regulations made large-scale commercial use of drones impractical. Things have certainly loosened up some since then, but there are still certain situations where even using UAV surveys may be against the law. For instance, if your work site is near an airport, a highway, or some other similar piece of infrastructure, you may be limited in where you can legally fly your drone since it could be viewed as a potentially dangerous distraction.

It’s important that you learn the regulations that cover UAV surveys, or that you work with an experienced surveying professional who does. Then, you can make sure to plan your surveying work so that you’re using terrestrial surveys in areas where you would not be allowed to use UAVs.

Areas Requiring Special Levels of Detail

While UAVs have certainly come a long way in terms of their ability to capture data in their surveying work, there still may be situations where UAVs simply aren’t enough on their own. In cases like these, using both land-based surveys and UAV surveys together helps ensure that you get both a very high level of detail, as well as a fast and efficient survey that can be turned around quickly. For instance, UAV-based photogrammetry could be paired with land-based laser scanning, with scanners set up from a wide variety of angles to return more complete results.

In the end, UAVs should be just one of several different tools in your surveying toolbox. While it’s a tool that’s certainly easy to get excited about, that doesn’t mean you should count on it replacing all of the other tools. There will always be circumstances that require a human touch, so you should be ready to address those circumstances when they arise.

Working with a surveying professional can help you get the right mix of UAV and land-based surveys for your project. Contact Landpoint to learn more.


High Resolution Aerial Maps: How Detailed Are They?

Many people considering unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for land surveying for the first time are excited about the speed and cost benefits they offer, but are put off exploring the technology further. After all, getting a survey that’s cost effective and delivered quickly doesn’t mean all that much if it doesn’t support a high-quality project.

In this post, we’ll explore the concept of high resolution aerial maps, and show how any concerns one might have about the detail and accuracy of UAV surveys are unfounded. High resolution aerial maps are generally created in one of two ways: through UAV photogrammetry or through UAV laser scanning (LiDAR).

UAV Photogrammetry

Photogrammetry essentially refers to using photographs to create highly detailed maps or 3D models. When attempting to create highly detailed, accurate survey deliverables with UAV photogrammetry, it’s important to keep in mind that the UAV itself is only one small part of the equation. In order to get the best results, you need a high-resolution camera, a suitable drone, and data processing/mapping software.

Since UAV photogrammetry is essentially just taking a large number of pictures from above, one of the best ways to ensure high-quality data is to follow photogrammetry best practices. Collecting quality imagery at the beginning will ensure that your software is able to produce great results.

As the drone flies, the camera will generally overlap individual images by as much as 80-90%. UAVs are capable of accomplishing this level of overlap only because they fly on automated flight paths. No human pilot would ever be able to control a drone in a manner that allows this level of overlapping. This also means that it’s very important for you to get all the images you need on the first flight. Because of overlapping, it will be difficult to integrate photographs taken under different conditions later on.


LiDAR, also known as aerial laser scanning, works by having a scanner bounce millions of light points off the object being scanned and then tracking the trajectory of those laser points as they return to the scanner. The data collected from the scanner is then combined to form a single point cloud, which provides a very detailed representation of the object or terrain being scanned.

Laser scanning has been in use for land surveying purposes for a while now, but the ability to pair it with UAVs opens up new possibilities. For instance, the speed at which the data is collected allows organizations to spend more time analyzing data and using it to draw deeper insights and less time on gathering the data.

As is the case with photogrammetry, you should view the UAV as just the vehicle through which the data is captured. It does not play a defining roll in how detailed and accurate the final product is; instead, pairing it with high-quality LiDAR equipment is the best way to ensure you get the results you’re looking for.

Whether you choose photogrammetry or LiDAR scanning, you should be able to achieve accuracy levels as low as 1-2 cm, depending on the conditions and the equipment you select. This represents accuracy that is as good as or better than land-based surveying, at a small fraction of the price or time required.

To learn more about high resolution aerial maps and how they could benefit your project, contact us at Landpoint today.