Get an indepth look into Pylon, a solar design software made just for Australian solar installers.
The following is a review as per the date above. There is no exchange of compensation and there are no affiliate links on this page. All opinions are my own.
If you're in the market for solar design software, you'll want to read this detailed review. Pylon is an industry leader and it's very user-friendly software. Pylon is feature-rich, although its pricing starts at $4 for each project, and is more appropriate for medium to large solar companies.
If you want to lower your operating expenses by integrating Pylon with your website, CRM, XERO, etc, please book a time.
Pylon is a cloud-based solar design software built by solar engineer Nelson Zheng and software developer Daniel Buckmaster in 2016. Pylon came into the solar industry market to fill in the gap for a more user-friendly, accessible, and affordable solar design software.
I feel like they have certainly succeeded in that. They understand their users and their software feels like a SAAS (Software as a service) product. The software is very user-friendly and it has all features solar installers will need. Plus there are some extra features that make Pylon stand out from the rest. This makes Pylon an incredibly appealing choice to solar companies of all sizes.
Pylon is designed incredibly intuitive and modern. The design is sleek and easy to navigate, which makes designing a solar system a breeze. Even if you're not familiar with solar design software, you'll be able to figure out Pylon and design solar systems with little to no trouble.
In Pylon's project studio, the left-hand side features all the necessary tools to design a solar system quickly. This includes a select tool, eraser tool, a build tool to quickly replicate your chosen solar product, and measurement tools.
On the right-hand side, it features a monthly estimate of the system's production throughout the year, and an easy solar panel search and selection function.
Pylon claims to have over 20,000 solar panels, inverters, and batteries in its database. The ability to search for exactly what you need is very easy.
Building a solar system is very fast after you've familiarised yourself with Pylon's solar layout tool kit.
It is as simple as selecting your chosen solar panel, dragging it across on top of the roof, rotating it, and using the build tool to drag my cursor across to duplicate the solar panel.
All of this took me under a minute.
After placing down all of the panels, you are able to edit their settings such as the panel tilt, azimuth, margin, and a checkbox to transform them into landscape or portrait.
Pylon's design studio is also responsive and is made to work on touch devices like the iPad, which makes it an even more user-friendly software.
I can't fault Pylon's design studio at all. It has and does everything you would need to design a comprehensive solar system for both residential and commercial clients.
One of the most important aspects of solar design software is its ability to accurately model solar shading for installation sites. This is because solar shading can have a big impact on the overall performance of a solar system.
Pylon uses high-resolution aerial imagery by MetroMap to create an accurate model of solar shading for any installation site.
Their shading tool is incredibly easy to use, and you are able to track shading impact throughout different times of the day and throughout different months of the year. It will tell you straight away how much solar production is lost within the bar graph.
This is a huge selling point for me, as solar shading is often one of the most difficult things to accurately model. Pylon makes it incredibly easy to do so, which will save you a lot of time when designing solar PV systems.
Single line diagrams are crucial for the installation teams, maintenance personnel, and electrical grid operators. It allows them to understand how the solar PV system work.
They give technical information about the solar system that aids them in making decisions regarding installation, operation, and safety.
As far as I'm aware, no other solar design software offers this.
A downside to Pylon's features is that you don't really have the ability to customise your professional proposal within site.
You get 3 basic proposal templates, and within these, the only things you can change are the main colour theme, adding your company logo and information, and removing existing pages from the template.
It does the job.
It's minimalistic. Easy to understand.
However, it won't make your proposals stand out against the ones which have more consistent branding.
Unfortunately, we can't customise the look and feel of the proposals within Pylon.
In order to make your proposals stand out from other companies, you will have to build your own custom solar proposals which require a lot of custom design.
This process entails using your own API to transfer the project details (the solar panels, pricing, etc.) into your own customised proposal PDF.
One amazing feature about Pylon's proposal system is the ability to take eSignatures. Customers are able to sign and accept proposals right within the document itself, and it even records a timestamp and location data.
Having a native eSignature system in a proposal is vital. It can increase conversion rates significantly.
This saves the customer their precious time, and the solar company doesn't need to worry about additional integrations that redirect the customer to sign elsewhere.
Download the FREE PDF, implement these changes, and you may increase your solar installations by 5-10%.Get the book
Pylon's pricing structure is a bit confusing. There are no subscription or monthly fees, and it is more of a pay-as-you-go pricing structure.
Pylon requires you to purchase a pack of credits which can be used towards creating your project and unlocking extra features.
When signing up, you get a free 150 credits which allow you to play around with a couple of projects to start off with. After this, you will need to purchase credits in bulk, and the more credits you purchase, the more bonus credits you can receive.
Creating a standard project costs 50 credits or about $4. You get all the necessary features to design solar PV systems, instant web & PDF proposals, financial projections, and their high-resolution imagery from Google.
As their pricing structure is a pay-as-you-go one, you are able to use extra credits to upgrade your project to have more features. To upgrade from a standard to a pro project costs another 75 credits, which totals 125 credits or about $10.
Upgrading to a pro project allows you to receive extra features such as being able to add in a battery, have custom load profiles, and a higher maximum DC kW generation size for the project from the standard project's 30kW to 99kW+.
Although confusing initially, this makes the pay-as-you-go pricing structure great - you only pay for the features you need as you need them.
If you're designing for a residential client who may not need both solar and battery systems, you can purchase a standard project. And if you need to add that battery in later, you can upgrade the project with extra credits.
With every project, you get a free high-resolution aerial image supplied by MetroMap.
MetroMap by Aerometrex gives high-quality aerial images taken from a plane, and their captures give great color quality. They also capture aerial images quite frequently, up to four times yearly. Their historical imagery stretches back years, and in Pylon, you are able to access this and view the same location during different seasons of the year.
The image quality from MetroMap is quite incredible and is included within each standard Pylon project.
There's honestly not much need to pay extra for Nearmaps, as MetroMap already provides an adequate, clear aerial image.
However, if you'd like to use Nearmap, this can be easily purchased within Pylon for extra credit. Each Nearmap purchase costs 100 credits, which equates to about $8.
If you're already a customer of Nearmap, that's great - as this gives you 3 months of free use of Pylon and it costs about $2.40 per standard project after that.
If you're still a bit hesitant about diving into Pylon, you're able to register for free and receive 150 free credits instantly. With these credits, you could create 3 standard projects, or play around with 1 pro project.
There's a customer support live chat within the system if you need further support with anything. I had a quick question about Pylon's pricing, and Nelson, the founder, got back to me within 5 minutes.
If your solar company is medium to large in size, we think paying $4 per project is a pretty good price for all the features it comes with when compared to their market competitors.
However, as we mentioned before - if you're just starting out and don't want to pay for anything, you may want to look at our detailed review of the free software, OpenSolar.
As I have done in my other solar design software reviews, I will also put Pylon to the test of how accurate their estimations are.
In this calculation, I compared the energy data of a residential 8kW system in Melbourne with the exact same system and components in Pylon.
The system consists of:
The left image is a photo of the existing system taken by NearMaps, and the right is my design in Pylon to match the existing system.
From there, I was able to get Pylon's predicted energy production throughout the year.
I matched this data against the actual generated energy from the solar system from 01/01/2021 to 31/12/2021.
Calculations show that Pylon's estimation was off about 10%.
Unfortunately, this shows that Pylon's estimations are not extremely accurate - and you might need to keep into consideration that Pylon tends to overestimate solar energy production.
This shows that Pylon generally tends to overestimate the amount of solar production on most months out of the year, and particularly more so in the warmer months. Although, we did see a few months where the estimated production was extremely accurate.
Here are some things we would love to see
Updating the brand's color and company logo is possible within the current proposal template. However, there are just 3 designs and they're quite basic.
What I want to see is the ability to change the font and styles. In this way, the customer is able to see more consistency between the brand and the proposal itself.
Pylon is a great total package software. There's not much else that I can think of that it's missing or needs significant improvements on.
If you're looking for an all-in-one solar design software that is feature-rich and user-friendly, Pylon is the way to go. It offers a variety of features and benefits, as well as a pay-as-you-go pricing structure that makes it most affordable for medium to large solar companies. While it's not the most accurate solar energy estimation software on the market, it's still a great choice for solar design software.
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