TOP FREE SOLAR PV DESIGN APPS OF 2020

Hi friends. How are you? Hope everyone’s doing well. This Side, Tanvi with you today. And today we will discuss about the Best 5
Free solar photovoltaic design tools available in 2020 for you. Yes. You heard it right. Free tools. Almost free. Actually, Its better to call it freemium as
some of them charges for a subscription for lifetime usage. So, let’s? start! First in our list is PVwatts from Nrel or
National Renewable Energy laboratory, from USA. It’s a government funded research agency
from USA, and often collaborate with NASA, and NOAA, for their research work. Let us show you the features of this app.

Just type in google? "PVwatts". and click on the first link that
you get. Like this. This is a completely web based app. So, you cannot install this app in your workstation. You have to use it in your browser. okay. Let's explore the software now. first? it’ll ask you for the location address. You can also put the location coordinates
here. Don’t know how to get the location coordinates
in seconds yet? Check our channel for the tutorial. Also link is in the description and in the
I button above. Do check them for better understanding. So after you put the location coordinates,
it’ll take you to the weather data selection tab. You can select whatever relevant and nearest
to your location.

Next is the project design tab. It’ll give some pre-filled sections like
this. You can change them as per your requirement. here you can draw the installation area like
this. Pretty cool. Right? Next, on the advanced section, you can change
the DC to AC ratio, inverter efficiency, GCR values. On the detailed loss tab, you can set your
desired loss values if you know correctly. Or? You can leave this section as it is. At the bottom section, you can even set the
electricity tariff as well. On the result section, you can save the result
values in monthly or hourly basis. Also, a simulation report can be downloaded
easily. The report looks also good; you see? This app is completely free to use.

It’ll never ask you for any amount. Ever. It offers an API to integrate this in your
own web app or website for free. You can create layout section within the app. You can set the loss details. But, there are some limitation. You cannot select modules or inverters of
your choice. You cannot import desired climate or meteo
data. No option to design a 3d scene. So, assessing the shading loss is not possible
here. Uncertainty analysis option not available. Also, it’s a very basic kind of design simulation. You cannot rely onto it for detailed analysis. Still, it’s really an awesome tool for a
beginner or anybody who want to quickly assess a solar
pv system within a minute.

We’ll give it 3 stars out of 5. Next on the list is System Advisor Model or
SAM. This is also a product from NREL just like
PVWATTS. But it is way more advanced and detailed oriented
tool. You can download it from NREL SAM official
web page. You only have to create a free account here
and you’ll get the download link. It’s desktop based offline app. And it comes totally free. So you can use this software in your workstation
and even without internet mostly. As you can see here, you can design and simulate
almost all type of solar and renewable projects using SAM. From simple to most complex design can be
done with this tool. Limiting our discussion to solar pv system
only, you see there are design options like from simple residential pv system to ultra-mega
watt utility scale solar plant. And with a lot of financial modelling feature
as well. Coming to the system design. You can use NREL’s own meteo database or
you can upload meteo data files of your choice in csv and related formats. But directly importing from 3rd party software
is not available.

Here you can use almost all modules and inverters
from almost all the reputed brands, available currently in the market. SAM’s database is quite updated and you
can use latest models as well. In terms of 3d shading scene design, again
you’ll get a very good and user friendly design window. And for us, we found it’s energy storage
or hybrid system design option really an awesome feature. It offers you a modular approach to build
your energy storage device from battery cell level and it’s very very simple. We really liked this feature. Next, on simulation and result page, there
are a number of options where you can explore and customize your result output. So, to sum up, this is a free tool. Backed by globally renowned teams of NREL,
NASA and NOAA. It’s there for more than 10 years now. Feature rich, stable, yet easy to use app. Huge database of components and meteo data. You can design a 3D shading scene here. Uncertainty analysis option is there. Offers API integration. Now on the limitation side, because of lots
of feature, first time users will get a bit confused.

Secondly, there is no direct option to import
meteo data and components. Overall, we’ll rate it 3.5 stars out of
5. Next is PlantPredict from First Solar. The reason we are keeping this app at the
fourth position is that you can only design large utility scale Solar PV and hybrid energy
systems. You cannot model a small domestic or commercial
rooftop system using this tool. Getting back to the tool, its developed by
the US based, tier-1 module manufacturer and Solar Plant developer company, First Solar.

It’s totally web based. You can not install this app into your system
or work in offline. You need an active internet to design system
using this. Let’s explore the feature of this app. First, this is freemium app. Which means you can use the basic features
of the app with a free account. But to use all the functions, you must upgrade
to premium user. Here you can import almost all type of meteo
data sources into this platform. Component database is huge for modules and
inverters. All updated components are available here. You can create 2d and 3D shading scene in
the app. The most interesting part is that you can
design your medium voltage and high voltage converter transformer here. Which is a unique feature in any solar design
app. Also, adding utility scale lithium ion battery
storage unit makes this app outstanding from all other tools alone. PlantPredict offers you batch simulation which
means you can run predictions for a number of configuration in a single click. But there are some backdrops too. First off all, this app is very slow if you
are sing a normal shared Wi-Fi connection.

It consumes a lot internet data to operate
smoothly. 2nd is that the interface is a bit complex
and even for a veteran design expert, it’ll take some time to grasp all the feature and
navigations. We think the app is still in development phase. But as it is an app from company like First
Solar, we are reserving a good hope for this tool. and it has potential to be a top choice
for the design experts around the world.

We’ll give it 3 stars out of 5. For now, the pros and cons are listed here
for you to decide. At the 2nd position of our list is Helioscope
from Folsom lab. One of the simplest and yet resourceful app
in the market. This app is a first choice for many in the
industry. Still we keep it at the 2nd position because
of some features that are still not available with Helioscope.

Let’s quickly go thru the features of this
tool. First, it’s an online tool. Like PlantPredict or Pvwatts, you have to
use it with a web browser. It comes with Free trial option for 30 days. Still with a trial account, you can design
a system with all the features of a premium account. It will cost you 95 dollars a month to upgrade
to premium account. Let us show you it’s interface. Just after log in, you will see, the main
dashboard.

Which is pretty simple and yet bold. Under the “my account” option, you can
set your project parameters and preferences in terms of distance units, project rendering,
which ever suits your design standards. In profile section, you can set a default
option for new projects as well. In new project window, just give the location
coordinates, at it’ll automatically fetch meteo data and start system designing. The system design tab is very interactive
and all the design works happen in 3D mode only. The app is very fast and there is hardly any
lag or delay from it’s server while designing a system. It offers a various type of structural arrangement. From flat roof to tilted roof, from car park
to shade type, fixed tilt type to tracker type. Lot of options have been covered here.

Component database is being regularly updated. So you’ll get the latest pv modules and
inverters here to complete your design. One of the out of the box features of helioscope
are that you can design a system with 3D preview on the go. DC and AC cable laying and sizing is very
easy. High Voltage design and integrating a step
up power transformer is also possible. 3D shading simulation is very interactive
and easy to analyze. What we like the most about this app that
you can generate a separate shading simulation report from your design. Also, you can import shading scene from your
sketchup model. You can export the design layout and system
Single line diagram (SLD) in CAD format further use. And a lot more useful features. We are doing step by step learning series
for Helioscope. Please subscribe to our channel for such upcoming
uploads. From the limitation side, you can only design
a grid-connected system using helioscope.

Off-grid or Storage based hybrid system design
still not possible with Helioscope. Selecting Cable routes manually is not possible. CAD drawings of Array Layout and SLD are very
basic. An onscreen customization option would be
really helpful. Economical & financial assessment is not possible
in helioscope. Comparing all the pros and cons of the app,
we’ll give Helioscope 4 stars out of 5. Now it’s time for the number one app in
our list. It’s none other than the most popular app,
which is? Pvsyst. it is accepted by everyone, and used by everyone. It’s an offline, primarily windows based
software.

But you can use it in MAC, or, Linux Operating
system easily, by following some simple steps. These are mentioned in the Pvsyst’s website
itself. Or? You may watch our lessons in Pvsyst Design
series on, How to get started with Pvsyst? for more info. Link of the video is in the description, and,
in the I button above. Coming back to Pvsyst. it’s originally developed
by a renowned team of scientists and analyst, from technical University of Geneva, Switzerland,
more than 10 years ago. Recently, On 25th May? they have released
the latest version, Pvsyst 7.0. A lot of up-gradation has been done in this
version. So, as you can see in the screen, there are
a range of types are available for designing a solar project. Starting from grid connected to off-grid to
solar water pump solution, you can design any type of system using pvsyst.

If we talk about the features, you can import
any meteo data source in almost any given format into pvsyst. Starting from SolarGIS, meteonorm, 3Tier,
Solcast, NASA, PVGIS, you just name it. It has a vast component library for solar
panels, inverters, batteries and controllers. You’ll find almost every manufacturers or
brands in pvsyst. And above all, these component details are
3rd party validated. Even you can create any component from scratch. Or manually import component files into the
asset library. And the process is very very simple. You can design with multiple orientations
and with mounting structure type. From fixed tilt to seasonal tilt, from single
axis trackers to dual axis tracker.

Separate section to assign system losses. Energy management and economic evaluation,
you’ll get everything you need. And the most highlighting part of pvsyst,
is that you can design any 3D shading scene. Whether it is a small domestic rooftop with
trees around or multi mega watt utility scale solar plants. Yes, you can design any scenario. Even by importing horizon profile, you can
assess far shading for entire pv array. We have started a detailed tutorial series
for pvsyst based system design analysis in our channel. Please subscribe and press the bell icon to
get notified about our future uploads. Link of pvsyst tutorial is in the description
and in the I button above. In simulation, you can run single model analysis
and batch simulation for multiple model for a same project at the same time.

Very interesting. Isn’t it? Actually PVsyst is often compared to an entire
subject altogether. Because of it’s vastness in terms of features
and customization capabilities. So, it’s not possible to cover all of it’s
feature in one session. We request you to please keep subscribed to
our channel for more. SO, coming back to pvsyst. THOUGH it is a well designed, utility rich
tool, it too has some backdrops. Like the hybrid storage system design. The approach is more hypothetical than practical. Designing a large system is quite challenging
and time taking. It’s very complex and time taking to design
a 3D shading scene. AC cable sizing, transformer sizing is not
possible. You have to set a pre-defined loss figure
into the model. Considering all the features and a few backdrops,
we will give 4.5 stars out of 5 to PVsyst.

And hope, in future release, PVsyst will work
on these limitations. Please let us know how did you find this video
helpful in the comment section. We read all of your comments. And please please like and share the video
as much as you can!! Do subscribe to our channel “minutes to
energy” for more upcoming and interesting videos on Solar PV system like how to start
a solar business, how to design solar pv system and solar panel manufacturing process. Thanks for watching guys till the end. See you in the next video..

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