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Thread: PV design software

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    PV design software

    I have decided to do a PV system, it will be on my home for the first one. I have been looking at PV design software and they range from free to ungodly expensive, neither of which is appealing to me. I’m looking for recommendations. If I decide PV is something I want to offer, it will be for residential and some commercial/industrial mostly servicing existing customers.

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    IMO, one doesnt really need PV software unless you are getting into PV in a big way and/or with big systems. For energy production, PV Watts is supposed to be quite accurate, and the only other thing it would be nice to have software for is optimizing DC/AC ratio, but you are kinda splitting hairs with that unless its a large system.


    I played around with PVSyst as they offer a 30 day free trail. You could get the trial version to get a feel for DC/AC ratio vs energy loss in your area for different system types.
    Ethan Brush - East West Electric. NY, WA. MA

    "You can't generalize"

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    See what the manufacturer you're using offers. Solaredge and SMA both have tools that are plenty good enough for residential. Otherwise PVwatts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jaggedben View Post
    See what the manufacturer you're using offers. Solaredge and SMA both have tools that are plenty good enough for residential. Otherwise PVwatts.
    I think what I am looking for is something to help me with making the single line diagram, calculating roof layout and production per the azimuth and angle, conductor sizing, that sort of thing. Like I said, this will be my first PV system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by five.five-six View Post
    I think what I am looking for is something to help me with making the single line diagram, calculating roof layout and production per the azimuth and angle, conductor sizing, that sort of thing. Like I said, this will be my first PV system.
    Helioscope supposedly does all that, but I found the interface to be clunky to the point of unusability. I use AutoCAD for layout and line drawings, and I do my wire sizing by hand. We use Aurora for general information but to produce good layouts we have found no viable substitute for boots on the roof site assessment measurements and photos. Sometimes Aurora gets things very wrong; I wouldn't totally depend on it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ggunn View Post
    Helioscope supposedly does all that, but I found the interface to be clunky to the point of unusability. I use AutoCAD for layout and line drawings, and I do my wire sizing by hand. We use Aurora for general information but to produce good layouts we have found no viable substitute for boots on the roof site assessment measurements and photos. Sometimes Aurora gets things very wrong; I wouldn't totally depend on it.
    Yea, I don’t think I would quote or order anything without using a tape measure first


    I was looking at one app that prompted me to order a report from roofreports.com I got the report and it seemed accurate but then the first app I looked at says it’s limited to roof under 4000 sq ft. So that’s not something I want to get setup on.

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    Why not just submit the basic measurements to a PV design professional. For 300 bucks they will make you a beautiful set of drawings to take to the permitting office. SLD, site plan, layout, section, mounting hardware detail, spec sheets, wire calcs.
    It will also contain the code references and info needed.
    Whereas, Each time the permitting folks find something is missing you gotta go back and re design and re submit....time is money.

    Although most will want YOU to know what size wire and production etc.....they will just draw it nicely (which is very valuable in its own right for permitting)

    Sounds like you still need to learn the design basics. (e.g. calculations on determining performance, V and A limitations, conductor sizing, etc etc.......)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zee View Post
    Why not just submit the basic measurements to a PV design professional. For 300 bucks they will make you a beautiful set of drawings to take to the permitting office. SLD, site plan, layout, section, mounting hardware detail, spec sheets, wire calcs.
    Wow, Engineering is pretty cheep in your area. Do they sign/seal the drawings too?
    Ron

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zee View Post
    Why not just submit the basic measurements to a PV design professional. For 300 bucks they will make you a beautiful set of drawings to take to the permitting office. SLD, site plan, layout, section, mounting hardware detail, spec sheets, wire calcs.
    It will also contain the code references and info needed.
    Whereas, Each time the permitting folks find something is missing you gotta go back and re design and re submit....time is money.

    Although most will want YOU to know what size wire and production etc.....they will just draw it nicely (which is very valuable in its own right for permitting)

    Sounds like you still need to learn the design basics. (e.g. calculations on determining performance, V and A limitations, conductor sizing, etc etc.......)

    I have been talking to a few PV design professionals and $300 seems to be right in the ballpark. Some don’t do SLD, others outsource structural... really, I am thinking I need to budget in the area of $700 for engineering for a 3-10KVA residential system. Perhaps I just need to find the right PV designer.

    I really don’t want to spend my time drawing things.

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    How do you select your modules? The variety available is overwhelming.

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