500 kW Maximum Design Size in 3D
OpenSolar performs raytracing simulation for each module in the system design when a system is designed in 3D. OpenSolar also simulates each inverter and MPPT performance separately based on array stringing configuration that is assigned to each inverter. This provides extra granularity than conventional solar modelling software, however, it does mean it is more computationally heavy and this introduces limitations on the maximum design size. We recommend our users to design under 500 kW when using 3D design.
It is technically possible to make designs over 500 kW using 3D on OpenSolar, however the user may start experiencing slow simulation speed, errors in successfully running the calculations and saving the results.
For projects larger than 500 kW - 1 Megawatt, we highly recommend designing in 2D as it is a lot less calculation heavy.
Designing Larger Systems over 500 kW
OpenSolar users have been able to design systems up to 5MW. This can be done by reducing the complexity of the simulation by doing the following:
- Limiting the number of System Design Options to 2.
- Limiting the number of Payment Options across all system designs to 6. This can be calculated by summing up the number of payment options offered in each system design option.
- Using 2D design - In 2D design raytracing simulations is not performed.
- Not applying string inverters and just specify the inverter efficiency - This removes the need for OpenSolar to simulate multiple inverters and MPPTs that apply in a large system design. Note: this does not apply if the system is using micro-inverters, and we should still be adding in a micro-inverter if used. By default all panels that are unstrung will be assumed to be using a micro-inverter.
- Reducing the number of Panel Groups in a system design if your system design allows for it.
- You can use the Recalculate button in the design page when a large system is designed in a 3D capable map view (either a 3D map type or a None map type), has >=50 panels, and it is using SAM as the calculation engine. The recalculation button appears in Summary section when any change is made in the 3D project with a large system:
Tips for Speeding up your Commercial Designs
1. Using "Fill Rectangle" to quickly create a large array.
You can layout panels length and width wise and then use the "Fill Rectangle" functionality to quickly create an array.
2. Adding gaps, defining the number of panels per row for an array (panel group), setting orientation of panels and more ...
If you click on a panel group, the lefthand sidebar should now should the panel group details and settings that you can configure. These include:
- Gap Y/X - Set gaps in meters (m) between each row (Gap Y) and/or column (Gap X).
- Clearance - Set the distance in meters (m) between the module and the roof/ground that they are placed on.
- Orientation - Whether the panels are placed in portrait or landscape.
- Advanced Layout > Elevation Auto - If toggled "on", it will automatically set the elevation of the panels to be flush with the roof surface or ground that the modules are being layout on in 3D design. If "off" you can manually adjust the panel ground height when selecting the panel group.
- Advanced Layout > Modules Per Row - set the number of modules per row. The distance between the rows are set using Gap Y.
- Advanced Layout > Offset - this will offset each module row so that each row will start midway between modules above and below.
3. How to manually string modules quickly
If you are going to string modules to an inverter manually, you can quickly string a row of panels by clicking on the starting module you want to add to the string, and then clicking on the last module in the same row to string to. This will string all modules between the first and last module in that row that you clicked on.
Note: this method of quickly stringing modules does not work when string modules across a column of modules. It ONLY works when stringing across a row.
Other Topics to read up on: