Balance of Systems and Soft Cost

Supporting increased market penetration for solar PV by reducing non-hardware balance of system costs

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that non-hardware costs, or “soft costs,” represent as much of 64% of the total installed cost of PV systems. Sandia conducts research to support reduction of these costs by addressing balance of system components; barriers related to interconnection, permitting, and codes and standards; and issues such as solar glare. Some examples of Sandia’s work in soft costs include:

The PV Value® tool provides the potential market value of a PV system when a home is sold or refinanced, which can help reduce barriers for consumers to purchase a solar energy system. Sandia developed the tool in partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Energy Sense Finance, LLC; The Appraisal Institute; and Adomatis Appraisal Service. Energy Sense Finance now maintains the tool.

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SGHAT is a Web-based tool that combines an interactive Google Maps interface with user-specific parameters to predict energy production and the potential for solar glare and ocular impacts from an array of PV panels. The system can outline the proposed PV array and then calculate the occurrence, intensity, and size of the potential glare throughout the year. The tool also predicts the annual energy production of proposed arrays so that alternative designs, layouts, and locations can be evaluated to maximize energy production while mitigating glare.

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