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Solar Design Lab

Welcome to Solar Design Lab.

This class will explore the areas where computer-assisted design improves the accuracy of performance estimating, array layout, project documentation, all the way through permitting. Follow along to complete solar designs on your own, with input from qualified personnel as needed.

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Course Description

Computer-assisted solar design now exceeds human capabilities, increasing design accuracy and simplifying the permit process. This program revisits the concepts discussed in Learn Solar Fast from a “behind the desk” view of a solar designer, discussing the technical capabilities of a variety of market leading solar design software. 

Learning objectives:

Participants will detail the site evaluation process in order to develop a computer-generated single line diagram.

Multiple array layouts on the same roof surface will be considered to promote a discussion of energy density, aesthetics, and ease of installation to optimize project value.

3D shade analysis is explored across multiple platforms to better understand how PVWatts and other rudimentary shade analysis techniques may result in a larger margin of estimate error. 

Various economic models are considered to demonstrate how solar, batteries, or load control may add or subtract from project value, in order to identify the right size of the site power project, to accelerate the adoption of onsite renewables.

  1. Completing a site survey with SolarDesignTool

2. String Sizing with SolarDesignTool

3. Shade Analysis with Aurora + Helioscope

4. Adding solar to Sketchup with Skelion & Detailed CAD Project Documentation with PVComplete

5. Calculating Economics with EnergyToolBase

6. Bonus material: Sales tools with SolarGraf, Tree Height with Google Earth, Engineering Stamp Services w/ Solar-Roof-Check

7. Conclusions

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