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Design software for solar systems

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

There are many programs that engineers and designers use to calculate solar energy projects and some of these programs are specific to a certain part such as calculating the energy generated from the panels based on the values ​​of solar radiation, location, direction, and some other details, and if the program has the property of the three-dimensional design, then it is possible to calculate the loss caused by the shadow, otherwise it is necessary to use other sources to make the calculations.

In most small companies, small companies resort to the least expensive way, such as preparing an Excel file and linking it to mathematical equations, and then using a program 3D design such as Sketchup to present the look of the project to customers. But this method requires more time and effort to collect radiation information.

The solar panels, which differ from one city to another, and then collect data from solar panels, inverters, and energy loss caused by shade or cables

Delivery, so this method is risky, and major companies resort to reliable global programs that collect this data on a permanent basis. It presents it to you via an interactive interface with the ability to draw the project. There are many programs that differ in their features, ways of using them, and of course their prices. Here we will show you two of these programs:

PV*SOL premium vs PVsyst

It will start with the German program that is widely used globally, especially in Europe and Turkey

PV*SOL premium

The program targets small and medium PV plants (< 500 kWp) and is characterized by ease of use, interactive interfaces and 3D design.

Program advantages:

◼ More flexible designs from simple to complex

◼ Detailed planning and simulation without additional software with the ability to add 3D design from Sketchup

◼ Very easy to use for beginners, as well as solar experts

◼Professional and realistic photos of projects

◼ Excellent service (online line, free webinars, international sales partners, forum, etc.)


◼ Limited Features of 3D Open Space PV Power Plants

◼ Limited to 10,000 solar panels parallel to the roof and 7,500 solar panels for flat roofs or farms

While this number reaches 100,000 panels in a two-dimensional design

We will discuss the price and other details at the end.

PVsyst is a Swiss simulation software for photovoltaic systems, it also achieves a wide global reach and has many advantages.

Main applications: large photovoltaic power plants (> 500 kW) open space plants

Equal or similar to PV*SOL. However, both programs mostly serve different target groups.


◼ Advantages better and more detailed for Photovoltaic energy stations in open spaces

◼ Highly detailed adjustments for various parameters available (suitable for scientific applications)

◼ Allows simulation of a larger PV plants (>1 MW)

◼ Interact with CAD software (such as AutoCAD, Sketchup, PVcase)



◼ For full operation, a lot of PV experience is needed

◼ Not suitable for small PV plants (<100 kW)

◼ For detailed planning, additional software (ex: Sketchup) is needed

◼ Limited Flexibility: All projects take time

Detailed comparison

Below is a detailed comparison of the main features of the two programs.

User interface:

Both programs offer a similar set of features. Where PV * SOL contains a row of icons that help the user with navigating through the planning and simulation process, PVsyst does not follow a ranking in this sense and the user is free to choose what to modify based on his decision.

For this reason, PV*SOL appears to be more user-friendly than PVsyst. User interfaces differ in their design, giving PVsyst

An old look, while PV * SOL looks more contemporary.

Climate data

Both programs use updated data from Meteonorm among others, which leads to the generation of accurate climate data for any place in the world.

However, PVsyst relies on importing Meteonorm climate data with monthly accuracy, the software synthesizes their hourly values. in contrast, PV*SOL imports hourly climate data directly from Meteonorm, which is based on actual measurements. Therefore, the climate data used in PV * SOL is more reliable and closer to reality. In addition, PV * SOL has the advantage of choosing between hourly or minute precision, while PVsyst is entirely based on hourly simulations. The minute-by-minute calculation of climate data is specially designed by one of Valentin Software developers and provides more accurate simulations, if needed.


Both programs contain comprehensive databases of components, such as PV modules, inverters, and batteries. Covering PV*SOL what almost twice as many PV modules (about 25,000) while PVsyst (about 12,500). The data is provided by the companies themselves and is updated regularly. As the PV*SOL database is internet-based and can be accessed by businesses.

Manufactured through a standard web browser, PV*SOL has been able to simplify the entire process of maintaining and managing the latest component data.

3D Design

One of the elements that makes the two programs significantly different is the 3D design environment. In fact, one of PV*SOL's distinctive selling advantage is its user-friendly and intuitive 3D modeling tool. With tools such as "3D polygon sketching," "3D Object extrusion," and automatic module distribution, the user includes practical tools for efficient and trustworthy 3D scene planning. The 3D environment in PVsyst is reduced to simple features. Simple projects can be planned with PVsyst, although they typically take longer and Complex shading situations require additional CAD tools, such as Sketchup or AutoCAD. Recommended, with an interface provided by PVsyst. Even intricate shading scenarios in PV*SOL can be made without the use of additional software.

The following comparison of a few straightforward tasks created without the use of additional software is provided. Numerous shared factors were established in advance, implemented correctly in both projects, and the necessary time was documented as a foundation for comparison. The predetermined specifications comprised location, elements, building size, mounting system geometry, and string sizing.

10 kw family house facing side

Time required to perform 5 minutes Time required to perform 30 minutes

100 KW Industrial building, east-west direction

Time required to perform 15 minutes Time required to perform 60 minutes

1 MW open space plant

Time required to perform 15 minutes Time required to perform 45 minutes

From the time spent on different projects the main applications of both programs can be evaluated. With its easy-to-use 3D drawing features, PV*SOL has many advantages in designing and simulating rooftop PV systems. In contrast, PVsyst is better for large open area plants, outperforming PV*SOL in scale modulation and computing power. We recommend PV*SOL for all PV plants of less than 1 MW and PVsyst for more than 1 MW. Although large open area plants are not among the main applications of PV*SOL, but up to 500 MW, they can be accurately simulated using the software, although some time-consuming calculations may be required.

Presentation and documentation

Both programs provide detailed project reports, which the user can customize, including all important data. Both are considered bankable and are generally accepted by all banks for financing purposes. The main difference between the two is the project view. Where PVsyst focuses on a somewhat reductive and technical presentation of its project images, PV*SOL projects can be depicted in a more vibrant and realistic way.


The service provided by the two companies is somewhat different. Altogether, PV*SOL has a more comprehensive scope, as can be seen from the following table.

PV*SOL premiumPVsystTelephone hotlineFree email hotlineFree introductory webinarsFree help websiteInternational sales partnersFree forumFree YouTube videosFree 1-month trialExtensive training courseApprox. 2100 € / 4 days of Training and exclusive rates offered by exclusive partners such as RESApprox. 700 € / 2 days of training

Telephone hotline


​PV*SOL premium

Free email hotline

Free introductory webinars

Free help website

International sales partners

Free forum

Free YouTube videos

Free 1-month trial

Extensive training course

Approx. 700 € / 2 days of


Approx. 2100 € / 4 days of

Training and exclusive rates offered by exclusive partners such as RES


Both programs have different pricing models. A one-time premium of PV * SOL costs €1295, with 6-month maintenance included, which covers regular software and database updates and access to a toll-free hotline. After the first six months, maintenance costs €233 per year, however, the software can be used with its full features without maintenance. PVsyst uses a subscription model, in which an annual fee of approximately 550 euros is required, without which the full-featured software cannot be used. This makes PVsyst cheaper to use in the short term and more expensive in the long run.


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