PV Sol Review
PV Sol Review
PV Sol by Valentino Software is created for photovoltaic system performance assessment and to prepare technical and financial proposals for residential, commercial, on grid and off grid projects. There are a lot of reasons why PV Sol is a reliable software program. However, now, PV Sol is beginning to show its age and in comparison to contemporary software makers they are behind the curve. While everyone else has reduced the expertise level required of the user. PV Sol requires the user to have engineering, sales, compliance and financial expertise to design and create a proposal that covers everything correctly.
Requirements of Solar Design and Proposal Software
While PV Sol is the required standard to aspire to, a standard that is necessary for robust & dependable design of thousands of solar PV systems. PV Sol’s competitors have taken the need for much of the heavy lifting away from the expert and used the capabilities of computing & algorithms to provide dramatically better results with fewer inputs. This difference in approach is the primary hurdle for the effectiveness of PV Sol as a solar design software. Engaging the customers with information and content that is relevant to their needs is just as important as features that allow for accurately estimating the shading on PV panels and modelling obstructions on the roof.
The process of design begins with your choosing the type of solar system from a list of standard on grid and off grid systems. While the leaning is towards residential, commercial systems can also be designed, albeit requiring more processing power. PV Sol allows import of roof diagrams and images upon which modules can be placed in portrait or landscape at optimal locations. The images may not have accurate measurements and these will need the designer’s input.
It is counterintuitive to use a software for design and manually state the number of solar modules or the target capacity of the system. The preference would be for the design tool to place the panels in an optimal layout suitable to the constraints of the roof based on the locations’ conditions, shading analysis and other compliance requirements. PV Sol requires data and measurements to be taken at the site and assess the shading conditions on the ground. In order to have the ability to use 3D modeling you would need to pay for PV Sol premium, which allows for using satellite imagery and provides modelling of keepouts and near shading objects.
PV Sol provides an extensive database, items such as modules and inverters have regular updates by the development team. The software can automatically suggest inverters from the database or the installer’s preferred inverters and PV optimizers (which act as boost converters).
3. Climate Data and Energy Simulation
Climate data and choice of location data is limited and shading models appear to be only available in PV Sol Premium. Diagrams that describe the stage losses occurring through the PV systems are available in the energy balance section. Estimating a standardized power consumption load profile for a customer would be dependent on the expertise of the designer. Several load profiles exist that can be applied including from utility providers. However, a definitive estimate of the customer’s specific consumption is only possible through the import feature that allows an 8760 spreadsheet. While, this may be acceptable for most design cases the competition offers far more accurate models of the customer’s energy consumption and load profile estimation. For the purposes of permitting single line diagrams and other configurations can be fine tuned as required and exported to several file formats.
4. Financial Analysis
Financial analysis will also require a sales or a financial expert for navigation what could be uncharted territory for engineers. Furthermore, creating the financial report requires greater understanding of financing and debt options. Once again PV Sol is limited by the fact that a single person cannot complete the entire proposal process. There doesn’t seem to be a pre-configured pricing model which would be immensely more convenient. The estimation of price and cost assumptions are entirely left up-to the ultimate designer of the system. In order for us to better understand the relative performance of different projects a comparison page is available for suitable analysis.
PV Sol is on balance a tool for design and therefore the completed assessment report is suitable to the technically inclined. While the developers at PV Sol do understand the need for communication with customers who are less aware of technical and financial aspects of a solar project, they do not quite deliver in this aspect when it comes to the creation of the sales proposal.
PV Sol’s user interface feels dated and limited compatibility to Windows only devices creates a limit to the ubiquity that is required by the installers. Using the tool requires expertise in engineering, sales, financial and other compliance related skill sets. It will not be possible to employ a layman for the purposes of design. Given the lack of platform flexibility the tool will also need a reasonable investment in hardware and office facilities. This is a cost that while not immediately apparent will contribute to the overall cost of operations using PV Sol.
The PV Sol versions are offered in 2 tiers PV Sol and PV Sol Premium. The PV Sol Premium software provides the ability to design 3D models of the solar system. Both PV Sol and PV Sol Premium have the option to pay for software maintenance at an added cost. One would imagine that the price being charged for the PV Sol and PV Sol Premium would include the software maintenance. What is more confounding is the lack of the exact nature of software maintenance.
8. Customer Reviews
Customer reviews suggest that they find the software a reliable tool for their purposes. The forum of self support is filled with an engaged customer base actively participating. Supported by the moderators the forum is where questions that otherwise do not have answers can be addressed, including requesting and prioritizing feature requirements.
Will the finished and installed reflect the design that has been proposed here? Does it help the customer make a better more informed decision? What are the net advantages of using the software as opposed to the competitor? In Summary, PV Sol feels like bloated software to design PV systems, with very little computing intelligence, 3D modelling PV systems only included in PV Sol Premium and PV Sol limited to image and graphic 2D modeling.
Having said that if your operations involve or your team has sufficient engineering, sales and financial expertise then you would be well suited to use the software. In this case, you are looking for an avenue to convey your expertise through the form of a software. This would mean that the software in itself provides very little assistance and is most like a word document. The expertise in creation lying with the creator and not the software program