To assess the accuracy of simuwatt Solar, concept3D partnered with NREL to evaluate the program's outputs against actual plans developed for sites across the country.

3D Solar Modeling Technology

Oliver Davis | concept3D

Can you give us a quick description of what simuwatt Solar is and how it works?

simuwatt Solar is a cloud- and mobile-based application that allows a wide range of users to intelligently, visually, and accurately improve solar array assessment, design, output calculations and the permitting process. To use the application, one simply selects a rooftop, draws a basic outline including any obstructions and adds key information from the simuwatt Library and other data sources (such as modules, inverters, racking systems, utility rates and other). The application then generates a 3D array, accounting for shade, to provide an accurate system design for that specific rooftop. The simuwatt Library is an online repository of thousands of solar modules, inverters, racks, combiner boxes and more.

How does simuwatt Solar help with permitting process?

simuwatt Solar provides documentation, data and imagery that helps with permitting. Once the array is drawn, the project team has a one- and/or three-line electrical diagram using SketchUp and AutoCAD output that can be used to speed the design along. Furthermore, the simuwatt Library includes product spec sheets that are used in permitting documents. Lastly, a 3D model provides imagery that allows a permitting officer, planner or AHJ a better point of reference.

What differentiates simuwatt Solar from other products attempting to reduce soft costs/balance of system costs?

simuwatt Solar is unique in that its primary architecture is for mobile and web (the release includes an iOS version), it incorporates in-app 3D and NREL's system advisor module for production calculations, and it can be used by anyone from field sales to project engineers.

Unlike other applications, simuwatt Solar is a sales, marketing and project engineering application touching all parts of the sales–permitting engagement cycle. simuwatt Solar is unique in reducing soft costs and balance of system costs because it takes you through the entire workflow from sales, to engineering, to design, to permitting. It allows for all these elements to be accounted for in one single application, thereby reducing costs and saving time.

Can you take me through the process of how someone would use this product?

A salesperson creates a project, selects his or her rooftop, draws an outline, adds obstructions and components, and the application produces an estimate, 3D design and layout that can be converted in AutoCAD and SketchUp for engineers and designers. The application will also generate information for the installation process, including permitting, incentive application processing, service details, installation labor costs and sub-optimal system production. 

Is simuwatt Solar exclusively for commercial use?

The product is currently being marketed for commercial rooftop use. However, the platform is designed to support residential and utility-scale ground mount systems.

What kind of savings do you see from using simuwatt Solar?

Initial field tests showed savings of up to $0.10/Watt, depending on size and installation.

How was the system tested for accuracy?

To assess the accuracy of simuwatt Solar, concept3D partnered with NREL to evaluate the program's outputs against actual plans developed for sites across the country. NREL compared manually developed plans for solar energy systems ranging in size from 10–900 kW with concept3D's automated approach. In addition, multiple plan sets from different installers added diversity and volume to the analysis.

Is simuwatt Solar available now?  How can I obtain it?

simuwatt Solar is currently offering a commercial beta version of the product and will be doing a final product launch first quarter, 2014.


Oliver Davis

Oliver has eighteen years of management experience in marketing, operations, product management and business development. Since co-founding concept3D in 2006, the company has launched multiple services – including - while creating the largest custom Google Maps and Google Earth / SketchUp projects to date. Oliver is responsible for vertical branding, technology strategy and client management for key accounts (partial list): DisneyWorld, Disneyland Paris, MIT, Harvard Business School, Haverford College, Heat SF / EA Sports, Google, The National Renewable Energy Lab / NREL and Mortenson Construction. 

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

Comments (0)

This post does not have any comments. Be the first to leave a comment below.

Post A Comment

You must be logged in before you can post a comment. Login now.

Featured Product

Sun Xtender® Deep Cycle AGM Batteries

Sun Xtender® Deep Cycle AGM Batteries

Sun Xtender® Deep Cycle AGM Batteries for renewable energy storage are manufactured in the USA by Concorde Battery Corporation and are built to the same demanding standards crucial to supporting the aircraft industry. To facilitate maximum conductivity & charge acceptance Sun Xtender® batteries are constructed with copper alloy corrosion free terminals & robust intercell connections. Endurance and optimal float life are achieved through plates thicker than the industry standard. Sun Xtender® Batteries' AGM maintenance free design is an ideal solution for off grid and grid tied systems.