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Best software for installers? Information for beginning companies?


aapn77
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Hello everyone

I'm looking for a good source of information for solar panel software. My dad's company has been relying on an external service to do the calculations and drawing of the solar designs, but he wants to do it himself because the external service asks loads of money and are sometimes 2 weeks late with their reports. We use the solmetric suneye device to measure shadow, this data can be imported to the solmetric software called PV designer. However, PV designer is not that great. There's no auto-filling the roof you drew if it's not a rectangle, there's no option for custom no-module zone (only rectangle or circle) and it hasn't been updated in half a year. Are there any decent and easy drawing programs specifically for solar panels?

I wonder what you guys think? Is there any international forum for installers and solar panel enthusiasts? What do you guys use? I've seen pv*sol which is an expensive software package, any experience with this? Others use google sketchup and import radiation data from google earth to generate expected revenues. How reliable is the data? And is google sketchup any good for solar panels? I'm seems to be a bit to general purpose for solar.

Are there any other shadow measuring devices like solmetric which are reliable and have a modern software suite? There is so much software for solar panels but it's hard to say which is crap or hasn't been updated or finding any reviews of them. A drawing/calculation/... program in one would also be nice, currently we use an excel sheet for the calculations.
Really, any advice would be much appreciated, or a pointer to some better resources than reddit. I'm located in western europe if that would help.

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Hi aapn77,

since you posted this request in the PV*SOL forum, let me answer first from the PV*SOL perspective. I'll cover the points you mention in your question.

  1. You can import your solmetric suneye directly
  2. You can auto-fill any roof design, either in 2D design mode or in 3D
  3. You can have arbritrarily shaped "no-module-zones"
  4. You have regular updates of the software and the database, so you are always up to date
  5. You'll get (validated!) radiation data from all over the world
  6. You can also import Sketchup models in PV*SOL you you prefer to make your 3D models in Sketchup
  7. You get a very detailed and nice-looking report for your customers
  8. You get all the plans and drawings and nice screenshots on top

You really shouldn't do all this work in an Excel sheet :)

Let me put it like this: If you are a PV enthusiast or hobbyist, there is nothing wrong with cobbling your own calculation tool together. But if you are a professional this effort is just not worth it. The costs for PV*SOL will be saved within three to 10 PV projects that you plan, I would guess, depending on where you work and what size your projects are.

Not to mention that you will have to prove to your customers that you did a good calculation and that there are no errors. We develop PV*SOL for about 25 years now, and have invested a lot in the validation of our algorithms, climate data, PV module and inverter databases and so on. No single person can provide that, it wouldn't make sense.

My suggestion would be to just test PV*SOL 30 days at no cost and then evaluate if it fits your needs:

https://pvsol.software/en/

 

Hope that helps,

Martin

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