Solar energy is a much more accessible form of power generation. Correspondingly, there are many solar power installers who will design and install a small scale solar power generation plant at – industrial plants, commercial buildings and even houses.
All of those solar installers need some kind of solar PV design software for –
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Type of content1. Solar PV design software tools1.1 Aurora1.2 BlueSol1.3 PVsyst1.4 Helioscope 1.5 Pylon1.6 Homer1.7 SolarEdge site designer1.8 PV Sol Free & Premium1.9 PV F-chart1.10 RETscreen1.11 System Advisor Model (SAM)1.12 Solarius2 Other software tools useful for solar PV installers
Let’s now look at some of the popular solar design software tools used by solar PV installers.
Features: Create an entire engineering design and sales proposal with just an electric bill and an addressRating: 4.5/5 on CapterraAvailable as: Online Software as a Service (SaaS)Pricing: $135 – $220 /user /monthWebsite: http://www.aurorasolar.com/
Features: BlueSol Design simulates, via software, the behavior of the PV system in all its components. The schematic representation allows the designer to have a precise view of the operation. BlueSol Design integrates a CAD system that automatically generates the single-line electrical diagram.Rating: Not availableAvailable as: Native software on Windows or MacPricing:Website: http://www.bluesolpv.com/
Features: This is a user friendly software, requiring only few inputs for the project area, desired capacity, solar module and inverter. Then it enables easy simulation and quick estimation of energy production at the planning stage. You can use it for detailed study, sizing, hourly estimation and report generation. It’s a handy design tool for PV system design, simulation and estimation. You can use the data from PVSyst to separately create a project proposal, using a standardized solar proposal template.Rating: 4/5 ; It is hugely popular software, despite the seemingly average rating Available as: Native software on WindowsPricing: $1000 – $1400 one timeWebsite: https://www.pvsyst.com/
Features: 3D design, rapid proposals, simulations, unlimited designs, live support, single line diagrams, automatic CAD export, library of 45,000 components, global weather coverage, shade reports up to 5MW Systems. The software makers claim that it will speed up the design process by 10 times. Rating: 4/5Available as: Online Software as a Service (SaaS)Pricing: $95 /user /monthWebsite: https://www.helioscope.com/
Features: Pylon is very interesting because of it’s lightweight, usage based pricing model. It is available as an online Software as a Service (SaaS) tool, but does not have any monthly fees. Instead you pay $4 for each project that you create on Pylon. This startup from Australia, has built an intuitive and user friendly solution, where you can get started within minutes. Some of their important features include – high resolution aerial imagery, 3D solar shading analysis, interval data analysis and load profiles, financial projections, web & PDF proposals, e-signatures and payment gateways.Rating: 4.6/5 on CapterraAvailable as: Online Software as a Service (SaaS)Pricing: For no up front cost and only $4 per projectWebsite: https://getpylon.com
Features: You can use this for simulation with multiple energy sources, add multiple loads. You can add factors like wind speed, fuel cost and emissions penalties to the simulations. It enables location search by name. But it’s not specifically designed for Solar PV. So some of the reports may not be as comprehensive as from other solar PV specific tools.Rating: 4/5 on CapterraAvailable as: Installed software on Windows OR cloud hosted SaaS versionPricing:Website: https://www.homerenergy.com/
Features: This is FREE tool to help commercial solar installers to reduce their design costs and include attractive 3D design in their proposals. SolarEdge uses either custom or satellite images to design photovoltaic projects from the first stage to the very installation.Rating: 4/5Available as: Online Software as a Service (SaaS)Pricing: Free web based toolWebsite: https://www.solaredge.com/us/products/installer-tools/designer#/
Features: PV SOL is the 2D solar software design tool for simulating photovoltaic system performance. If you don’t want to use 3D model shading and landscape visualization, then this is a well suited option.Rating: 4/5Available as: Installed software on WindowsPricing: Free version available; premium version EUR 1200+ one timeWebsite: https://pvsol.software/en/
Features: This is more of a collection spreadsheets with macros than a sophisticate design software. It is a basic tool where data has to be entered manually for every parameter. It has limited automation and no wizards. 300 locations are bundled with the software. But there is no option to import weather data from common sources like TMY3. No option for module or inverter data to be added to calculation.Rating: 3/5Available as: Installable native software on WindowsPricing: $400 one time for students; $600 one time for academic useWebsite: http://fchartsoftware.com/pvfchart/
Features: RETScreen enables you to identify, assess and optimize the technical and financial viability of potential clean energy project. It comes with following features – benchmarking, budgeting, forecasting, emissions monitoring, meter tracking, weather normalization, bill importing, risk management, load forecasting etc.Rating: 4.5/5 on CapterraAvailable as: Installed software on WindowsPricing: $869.00 /user /yearWebsite: http://www.retscreen.net
Features: This is free tool developed by Department of Energy (DoE) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). It enables performance predictions and cost of energy estimates for grid-connected power projects. It needs a lot of manual data entry and is not very user friendly. It does not offer shading analysis but can import this data from PVsyst. Rating: Not availableAvailable as: Installed software on Windows, Mac, LinuxPricing: Free SoftwareWebsite: https://sam.nrel.gov/download
Features: 3D modeling of parametric PV system objects, even starting from DXF or DWG CAD drawings or BIM models, calculation of photovoltaic shading directly from a photo, extensive libraries of PV panels, inverters and batteries, wiring diagrams, financial analysis toolsRating: 3.5/5Available as: Installed software on WindowsPricing: EUR 7 /month onwardsWebsite: https://www.accasoftware.com/en/solar-design-software
Apart from the design software tools listed above, a solar business also needs tools for other important processes like – marketing, lead management, project tracking etc.
Fuzen.io offers a variety of user-friendly, customizable solutions, built within your Google Drive accounts.
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