So you're looking for the best solar design software? Look no further! We've rounded up the top 4 options to help make your job easier.
There are so many solar design software available that there is no “best” out there. It depends on what designs you do, who your customers are, how many quotes you need to send out, etc.
Solar installers may want a good solar software that:
Below are 4 such software that I’ve used, and have written individual reviews.
I wanted to review Solar Plus and Aurora Solar, but was unfortunately not given the opportunity to.
Keep reading to find out which design software is suitable for your company.
You will find some tables below with some symbols:
Most solar installers would find Pylon to be the easiest software to use. The interface was the most modern looking. Navigation was simple to understand and the general feel of the software was that it is built like a modern SAAS (Software as a service) product.
Solar Proof and Open Solar are also not far behind. Solar panels snapped easily to the grid, searching was easy, and changing existing designs a breeze. This can lead to producing rapid proposals.
The only issue I had was with Helioscope. placements of solar panels are automatically allocated based on the area you provided. This proved most problematic on residential rooftops, because the installations are generally smaller.
On the other hand, Helioscope is by far the quickest to design for commercial solar projects or when the solar system is in excess of 50kW. The is because solar module quantity for commercial solar projects are far greater. The larger the system, the more efficient Helioscope becomes.
In terms of accuracy, Solar Proof was the most accurate with an error rate of 6.67%. You can read more about it here. This is followed closely by Open Solar. The highest error was Helioscope at 12.36%.
I have to caveat this by saying that this test was constricted to the following:
If I had access to more data, the rankings may prove to be different.
The ultimate measurement of the “best” proposal should be the conversion rate for solar companies.
However, I don’t have that kind of data. If any of you have access to that, I’d love to find out.
Some of the other important features of proposals are:
Proposals that allow customers to sign online saves a lot of hassle. Previously, customers need to print out the contract, sign it, and then return it. But doing this online speeds that process and you will forever keep the copy.
You don’t want your customer to mistake your solar business with another because your proposal looked the same.
At the very least, your proposal should allow you to embed your logo and your colour scheme.
Solar Proof, Open Solar and Pylon all include this.
Most software charges flat monthly fees. They are easy to understand because that's how most companies work now. Pylon charges a little differently.
Solar installers first buy a bunch of credits and use them whenever they like.
The table below shows the prices of each quote, assuming each quote is an average 6kW solar system.
As you can see, it is hard to beat Open Solar when they offer a free product. As I said in my Open Solar Review, they charge their manufacturing partners rather than solar installers.
The problem with Open Solar is that NearMap does not come free. You will need a separate subscription with NearMap (around $250 AUD as monthly fees).
The question is, “Do you need NearMap at all?”
The solar software with the best satellite images, eg. Nearmap, showed up the clearest.
This is a comparison between the Google Maps (Free) and Near Map (Premium)
That depends on you. Some solar companies believe that it is crucial to have the latest and best resolution satellite images as possible.
Pylon charges 100 credits per Nearmap per project, which is the price you pay for 2 quotes. However, they also licence high resolution non-NearMap imagery which may be adequate.
Download the FREE PDF, implement these changes, and you may increase your solar installations by 5-10%.Get the book
Solar Proof can integrate with Xero to send invoices, but Pylon is the only one that knows whether the invoice has been paid.
To me, knowing this within the software is important in running your business.
Solar installers may may want to give customers different financing options.
In the past, you would do this manually.
But Open Solar makes your life easier by including any of Plenti, Brighte or Energy Ease options in the proposal for your customer to choose from. Your customer can have the option of paying upfront, or monthly fees over a few years time.
The aim for all solar installation software is to be the end-to-end solution for solar installers. From when a new lead arrives, to getting paid, to finishing the installation.
Solar Proof offers basic customer management. Address, contact info, but has a calendar showing bookings.
Open Solar takes it to the next level by offering a form that you can then embed on your website. A successful form submission sends all the information straight into Open Solar as a new customer. The only downside is that the look and feel of the form is not customisable.
Pylon doesn’t have an embed form, but allows your web developer to integrate it with API and Webhooks, which opens the doors for many more options.
Single Line Diagrams is important for the installation teams, maintenance personnel and electrical grid operators to understand how the solar system works. They provide technical information about the solar system that helps them make decisions on installation, operation and safety.
Only Pylon includes this as part of their software.
What's missing is the ability to upload an electric bill. It would be great software to analyse a bill automatically, design photovoltaic projects based on address, roof space and consumption. Perhaps in the future. That would truly be the next phase for generating rapid proposals.
Choosing a solar installation software for your business is difficult. There is no one size fits all. It depends on the stage of your business and your personal preferences.
But the good news is that you can always change.
If you're like most other solar professionals, and you care about generating more sales, then using it is better than not using it.
If accuracy or clear imagery is important, use Solar Proof.
If your installations are medium to large on a regular basis, use Helioscope.
If you don’t want to pay for anything at all, use Open Solar.
If you want a simple and easy experience, use Pylon.
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