Additional resources that support our products.
Building and site modelling
This message means that an important hardware feature for the 3D display is not available on the graphics card being used.
Possible reasons for this:
In many cases an update of your graphics card drivers can help.Back to top
Please ensure that you have selected a 'Net Metering with electrical appliances' system type on the 'Climate, Grid and System Type' page.Back to top
This may occur if the Valentin server is temporarily unavailable or you have intervening firewall or other impairment to the Internet.Back to top
Building and site modelling
Download this document for further help on importing 3D models: https://www.solardesign.co.uk/docs/PVSOL%202018%20Premium-%20%20Import%20of%203D%20models.pdfBack to top
In the PV modules tab, it is possilbe to copy or add arrays. Each array can have an independent orientation, module type and fixing.
On the Inverter page, it is then possible to combine multiple arrays for a system inverter.
In 3D, more options for configuration are possible.Back to top
Yes, this is possible down to the nearest millimetre in either: (a) 2D 'PV Modules' then 'Graphic Coverage'; or (b) on 3D buildingsBack to top
In the configuration dialogue, the 'Power Optimiser' option is chosen. This manufacturer can be manually chosen as both as an inverter and optimiser. Use the 'SolarEdge' own configurator to establish compatibility options then manually copy the same configuration to PV*SOL. The changes in mismatch can then be automatically seen in the results Energy Balance. Changes to cable requirements are not automatic.
The PV*SOL automated configuration option cannot be used with optimisers. Instead use the manual configuration method in PV*SOL. Advice, warning or error messages can often be seen at the bottom of the screen. Sometimes these are not critical but others may also prevent a simulation from progressing and the 'OK' button may not function until these messages are cleared. This may be required even if the main configuration inverter and MPP checks pass with a green tick. PV*SOL calculates power limits using the nominal values of the modules whereas SolarEdge uses nominal power of their optimizers which can cause some unexpected warning messages.Back to top
There is a 5000 module limit only applying to a single 3D project. It possible to sub-divide larger projects into separate 3D projects for the purposes of layout and shade analysis. Thereafter if an overall economic or yield analysis is required, you can manually duplicate the configuration into 2D where there is a larger module limit up to 100,000 per array. Whilst there is superior analysis of the inter-row shading in 3D, this indirect radiation loss can be represented as a silhouette in the sun-path diagram per array or use the 3D results to manually copy over the total (average) percentage loss. When creating separate 3D projects, to avoid repetition of creating the terrain and other objects you could ‘Save As’ the current project as variants with different names and keep the same obstructions (if present) in all of them.Back to top
Yes, in both PV*SOL program types, it is possible to select frame-mounted systems. In 3D visualisation, the inter-row shading is automatically considered by the program. In 2D this must be manually considered.Back to top
In general, such arrays/active surfaces should be within +/- 10 degrees of South (in Northern Hemisphere).
In 2D go to PV Modules > Graphical Coverage > Edit > PV Area > Modules Area then right-click on the module area. Choose 'Edit PV Area'. If available, click 'Calculate Optimum Row Distance' then OK twice to set the spacing according to a German rule-of thumb i.e. row distance calculated from the installation angle (Beta), the angle of the sun (Gamma) on 21 Dec at noon. Note in 2D inter-row shading is not automatically accounted for and must be manually added in the shade editor.
In 3D the 'Edit Assembly Systems' dialogue > Placing > Calculate then OK twice then 'Close'. When an area is now covered by under 'Module Mounting', the spacing is optimised according to the angle of modules. The inter-row shading is automatically considered in 3D.Back to top
Under 'Module Coverage' once the modules are located, right-click > 'Edit' to be given the mounting and ventilation choices.Back to top
This is possible in PV*SOL 2016 adn later versions with four types to choose from. (See Help menu > PV Modules for details)Back to top
Both climate data files and simple energy calculation methods are availible from the UK's MCS certification scheme or the EU's PV-GIS. It is possible to convert the same originating climate data into PV*SOL although it should be stressed this will not automatically lead to obtaining the same annual performance results.
Those alternative methods use only very simplistic steps to obtain an approximate annual energy estimate; whereas PV*SOL considers efficiencies, temperature and energy analysis down to a minute's resolution, along with voltage / current array configuration options. The consideration of part-load, shading and albedo are also quite distinct.
Manual entry of custom climate data (i.e. irradiation and ambient temperatures) is done via the monthly value import in the PV*SOL Meteosyn dialogue > Create climate data for New Location> Measurement data. To note, there are already several UK SAP climate files in the database which effectively synchronise with those used by the MCS.
In PV*SOL, the bundled climate files of hourly values originate principally from a Swiss company Meteotest but it quite possible to also make use of the SAF-PVGIS dataset directly as well or easier still from here. Also there is a much wider range of climate data options from our other product Meteonorm.Back to top
In the configuration dialouge, the 'Power Optimiser' option is chosen. This manufacturer can be manually chosen as an optimiser with other brands of inverters. The changes in mismatch can then be seen in the results Energy Balance.Back to top
Download a guide on using Enphase micro inverters in PV*SOL here: PV*SOL - using Enphase invertersBack to top
One way to simply prevent zero export is via the AC mains options ('System Type, Climate & Grid') setting 'Maximum feed-in power clipping' to Feed-in Point at 0%. This may be required by the grid network operator. It can also be reduced at the inverter although this may not benefit the consumer. The export can also be reduced by setting the Grid Concept to 'With appliances' and possibly with battery storage and/or electric cars. All of these are then adjusted to reduce the export especially during the middle of the day. It is essential in this analysis that an accurate customer load profile is first input. Certain key loads can be itemised individually as an ‘Individual load’ and adjusted using the daily and seasonal timers to match peak generation times using the results charts to optimise. Battery storage is then added to allow loads at non-peak generation times to use the PV generated energy.Back to top
In the 'AC Mains' dialogue, there is an option to set 'Maximum Feed-in Power Clipping' either at the inverter or the grid feed-in point. When this is set, the results vary depending on the settings.
Download the following help sheet 'Power clipping or down regulation by inverter or feed-in point in PVSOL'to find these results.Back to top
Usually the reason for that is the part-load operation behaviour of the modules. The specific data for every module are entered in the database by the manufacturers. They have the option to enter a specific part load operation point for their modules in our database; then a specific part load operation curve is calculated for the module.
If the manufacturer doesn't enter the specific part-load operation point and you select the "standard part load operation" option, a curve for the cell type is used (e.g. monocrystalline) for the calculation.
To ensure that the program never simulates yields which are not achievable in reality, the standard part load operation curve tends towards a pessimistic scenario. Which part-load operation curve is used for the selected modules can be seen on the "U/I Char. -Part Load" tab under "Databases" => "PV modules".Back to top
The decisive factor for the yield is the part-load efficiency. In this respect amorphous modules usually have a better efficiency than monocrystalline modules. The part-load efficiency is presented in the efficiency characteristic curve which can be displayed under Databases > PV Module > 'U/I Char. - Part Load' by clicking the 'Efficiency Char. Curve' button.Back to top
All modules are calculated with the part-load characteristic curve (efficiency or 'ETA' curve). The specific part load operation for the modules is in some cases given by the manufacturer (see Databases > PV Module > 'U/I Char. - Part Load').
In all other cases a characteristic curve is used that is specific to the cell type. It is possible to select from 12 different cell types. For the 5 thin film types: amorph, HIT, CIS, CdTe and triple a-Si, standard characteristic curves are available for typical part-load operation.Back to top
Yes. You can print the roof layout as a separate document via the menu 'Results' > 'Project Report' > 'Roof Layout'. This function is only active if the roof layout has been used for the project planning. In 3D, the 'Snapshot' feature allows captured images to be placed in the report.Back to top
The margin of error of user input data versus experimental means there is no guarantee that modelling will synchronise exactly with on-site measurements; neither can it be expected that any given month, day, hour or minute will match that in the modelling since climate and load values are acquired as historical averages.
Nevertheless, the margins of error can be reduced if on-site measurements are made to the nearest millimetre or tenth of a degree. Furthermore, module characteristics are best checked randomly to ascertain individual power outputs which otherwise can vary from labelling.
Financial predictions are at risk from future variances in inflation, tax and interest rates. A default caveat is provided with the reports.Back to top
The default schematic can be exported into a graphic or CAD package for further customisation.Back to top
Run a simulation and choose the options in the Diagram Editor graphical results. Now select 'Module Temperature'. Right click on the area and they data can be copied to a spreadsheet.Back to top
In summary, a minute-level simulation is first saved as an Excel file. The data can then be averaged for any preferred time-resolution greater than one minute.
If you have been on one of training courses we give you a working exmaple of how to do this.Back to top
The PV Solar Surface Area is the area that forms the basis of the manufacturer's measurement of module efficiency. For simulation, the program determines the Solar Surface Area from the calculated power and efficiency (ETA), using the following formula:
PV Solar Surface Area = Nominal output (STC) / (1000 W/m2 * ETA(STC))
In some cases, the resulting figure is different from the Gross PV Surface Area. If, for example, the manufacturer does not take the module frame into account when calculating the ETA (STC), in order to obtain a better ETA (STC), the Solar Surface Area will be smaller. For a Solar Surface Area that corresponds to the Gross PV Surface Area, you should click on the calculator symbol to calculate the Module Efficiency.Back to top
The results differ between using 2D and 3D and dependant on the number of arrays. If there is no shading, the values of zero are reported in the Energy Balance and the Excel results under ‘Shading’ and other similar column headings. If 2D shading is present then accordingly non-zero values appear. The partial module shading and mismatch from shading is not considered in 2D. In 3D this same value is termed as ‘Module Independent’ i.e. where affecting all modules equally. The ‘Shading’ column in the Excel spreadsheet represents the module independent shading whether in 2D or 3D. Shading is also shown in the diagram editor. Non-zero values for partial and mismatch are only shown for 3D.
In 3D, effectively two simulations are done one with and one without shading to report the ‘Yield reduction due to shading' in the Simulation results even if only shading from the far horizon. This is the total loss of yield due to the influence of shading including direct shading losses, low-light performance (lower efficiency) of the module and the MPP tracking of the inverter if the shading causes a MPP outside the MPP voltage range. Mismatch and Partial are also now itemised in 3D. Module-specific shading is also reported under the Energy System balance and Configuration.
The shading frequency is available in 3D if near or middle distance shading objects cast a sharp shadow on the array. This is indicated as a percentage of the year during daylight that the module is shaded.
Note: The self-shading of mounted module rows is factored in automatically only in the 3D-Visualization. Minute values for global irradiance are especially important for the realistic simulation of yield losses.Back to top
To calculate the electricity production costs:
1. The investment costs are divided by the number of years you have entered for the assessment period.
2. The annual cost are added to this value, if existing.
3. Then the total costs are divided by the PV generator energy (AC grid).Back to top
Assuming the license has a current software maintenance agreement then the program will automatically check for updates and additions to the database if you select the from the menu 'Options' > 'Program Options'.
You are also able to carry out an 'Update Check' manually via the Menu > Help > 'Check for Updates'
Also further information is found via the Menu > Help > Info.Back to top
Manufacturers can add the technical data of their products themselves to the PV*SOL online database. To do so manufacturers first send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with their company contact details and then they will be provided with the login details.
A user can also create custom modules, inverters and battery systems via the PV*SOL Main menu > Database > Module/Inverter. Using the icons at the top of the dialogue, you should then either:
- create a copy of a similar existing product and rename/alter as required
- or create a new entry from the icons at the top of the list.
Only copies can be made of system files which cannot otherwise be altered except be the original manufacturer that uploaded it to the central database. Users can also a request to their equipment distributor to update so that ultimately the manufacturer uploads the correct specification for everyone to access as above. If they have a copy of PV*SOL they can email you a saved project with that module and it’d then appear in your database as well. If you have the specification sheet there is a good chance it’ll be similar to an existing item hence you might start with a database copy of that.Back to top
A server based license is availble upon request. Otherwise PV*SOL is not a server based program. However, since projects contain all the necessary design data, it is simple to store the active projects folder via a server. This can be set via Main Menu > 'Options' > 'Program Options'
Please note that projects can only be sequentially accessed by users, and not simultaneously i.e. not in parallel.Back to top
The database delivered with the program includes a generic value of 600 g/kWh. This should be adjusted to the applicable country via 'Climate, Grid and System Type' > 'AC Mains'
Further information for the UK can be found here: https://www.solardesign.co.uk/pvsol_emission_factors.phpBack to top
The climate can be exported via the Results Spreadsheets. Here it is possible to get minute/hour/month/year values for 'Irradiance onto horizontal plane' and 'Outside Temperature'. These can also be views via the Results Diagram Editor.Back to top
From 2017 many of these details are stored in each saved project. These are then automatically transfered to another computer when that project is opened. This works for all tariffs, modules, inverters, battery systems, batteries, optimizers and electric vehicles.
Another way would be to copy the whole database file “pvsol.sdf”. It is located in the following directory 'C:\ProgramData\Valentin EnergieSoftware\PVdatabase\Version5.0'. This folder is normally hidden so if it is enable the option "Show hidden files and folders" in the Windows folder settings.
If you have custom load profile to mport then these are stored in the “ConsumptionDb.sdf” under “C:\ProgramData\Valentin EnergieSoftware\PVdatabase\Version5.0”. If you want to transfer them you would have to copy this file.
The self-created climate data records are stored under “C:\ProgramData\Valentin EnergieSoftware\MeteoSyn\WBV\_userfiles” in the different country folders. You have to either copy all the individual files or the entire country folder to the new computer.
To copy of any favourites, these details are stored in the program's 'ini' file. Do not copy the whole file, just the part indicated below:
Any selections in the User and Extended Program options like the company logo, units and language choices should be manually set and the logo re-imported.Back to top
This can be carried out using resolutions from per minute to hourly. Using 'Import Load Profile' then 'Import New Load Profile'. Press 'F1' for context help following those instructions exactly! (or go to this Help page: Home > Consumption > Import Load Profile). If the measured data is split into horizontal weekly or monthly rows then this must first be converted to a single column of data. One way to do this is via a free third party program called 'Notepad ++' using the relevant Find & Replace switches to replace \t with \n to get a single column. We cover this in more detail in our training courses.Back to top
Since the PV*SOL 2016 version, it is possilbe to design for grid-connected AC-coupled battery storage systems and the SMA brand of off-grid DC-coupled battery systems. Some grid-connected battery systems on the market (such as Tesla) use a DC-coupled battery, and so may not be currently listed in the database.
However, it is possible to add a battery of any brand / model to a custom battery system and then add a battery inverter of your own choice (providing the technical details are known).Back to top
If a load profile is imported from say a smart meter that was already based in the Southern hemisphere then the seasons and months will already be synchronised. If a profile from the Northern hemisphere is found, such as those that come bundled with the program, then the months must be inverted to match the different seasons. This can be done from the results Excel spreadsheet option where the load profile can be isolated in either hourly or minute resoloution. The data can then be manually inverted so that summer becomes winter etc. then saved as a CSV format. This can then be re-imported back into PV*SOL with a new file name.Back to top
Using the source PVGIS as an example, the data is first exported as a download in .txt format. The two columns of azimuth/bearing and angular altitude are then copied to a spreadsheet. The headers are removed and the numbers formatted without decimals. The bearing format is required so if the data is shown as azimuths then it must be converted by adding/subtracting 180 degrees. From the spreadsheet, copy the two columns to a text editor such as Notepad ++ so they are shown as one column of text with a single space between each pair. Save as a text file with suffix *.hor. This will now directly import into PV*SOL.Back to top
There are so many variants of this appearing every day that you are likely to need to create a custom one to match your customer's local supplier. First view one of the Example Projects > ‘Example TOU’(= Time-of-use). Open this and navigate the ‘Financial analysis tab > ‘Select’. This is opposite the Net Metering section. Then right click > Edit on either ‘Example Rate Net Metering’ or ‘TOU Polyphase’. Viewing these will help you understand how that dialogue works. Now you will more easily save a new tariff for your own country.Back to top
For part load data, follow this file path: Main menu > Databases > PV Module. Then right-click > EditBack to top
Definition of Terms
Go to the Help menu > Glossary.Back to top
The energy from grid consists of the property's electricity requirement which is met by the grid (if connected), plus the PV system's own requirement for inverter stand-by and night use.Back to top
These are available in the Tariffs selection of the Financial Analysis. Both the Export and Generation tariffs are separately applied. Options to use 50% deeming are also available.
If the latest ones are not shown then you can easily add your own based on the a previous one. In the databse view, right-click and copy an exisitng tariff. Rename to suit the new period and change the 'valid from' date. Then adjust the tariff rates that are different by comparing to the official announmcents from OFGEM. Then click 'OK' and the new tariff will appear in your list. Repeat this for the different building classifications and export tariiff as required.Back to top
The best way to use PV*SOL is to create some templates on which to base future projects and in this way many options do not have to be repeatedly entered. There are also frequent choices in the program to save favourite climate, module, inverters and other dialogues 'Save as Default'.Back to top
In short, no. However in the Financial Analysis, it is possible to use normalised costs/kW, and these can be stored as template projects. The 'Detailed' view on these allows individual items to be summed.Back to top
These values are affected by the module degradation, inflation of the tariffs and annual average return on capital (otherwise employed). The latter can be considered the opportunity-loss of interest-bearing capital that would otherwise be gained if the PV project had not proceeded.
For cashflow tables, degradation and inflation rates are applied on a monthly basis over the entire assessment period. This is applied from the start of the first year. If the start of operation is a part-year then the first year will not match subsequent years. Whereas in the results, 'Total payment from utility in 1st year' is shown as if a complete year.
This value is affected by module degradation, opportunity-loss of interest-bearing capital and inflation of tariffs.Back to top
More complex arrangements are best created in a separate spreadsheet after copy/pasting the cash-flow table in the results.
However, there is the option within the program to use 'Price of Electricity sold to Third Party' in the Financial Analysis dialogue [currency/kWh]. This is used to calculate the income from the electricity that is not compensated by the power company but is sold directly to third parties at market prices.
If entered, this rate is multiplied with the grid feed-in (export energy to grid). If a feed-in tariff is selected, then then this is first used for the calculation of the income. Only if the feed-in tariff is not used or has expired then the third party tariff is used. The third party tariff is also used if you have defined that you are not paid for the full amount of the feed-in energy such as when the feed-in tariff contains an un-compensated portion of the electricity.Back to top
The starting date is adjusted in the initial project date tab. The default is the date of first creating the project. If there is a mismatch of this date and any defined tariffs such as Feed-In tariffs then a non-critical advisory message appears at the bottom of the screen and so you may wish to adjust the starting date or adjust the choice of tariffs before completing the project.
If you chose the 1st of January the first year’s economic calculation will then run from the January 1st to December 31st. For any other staring date in the year the first year’s economic period is from the starting date to the end of the month before the starting month e.g. If the starting date is set to 31 December it goes from December 31st to November 30th. All other years are counted as complete 365 days.
If the starting date is other than the first of the month, the shortfall of the ‘lost’ days in the first year is calculated from the mean daily feed-in rate (energy export to grid) multiplied by the number of ‘lost’ days multiplied by the chosen feed-in or third party rate.Back to top