The Solar Software Ecosystem: Page 4 of 5

HelioScope Folsom Labs developed the core model in HelioScope as a means of evaluating and analyzing new PV system technologies such as dc-to-dc converters, which requires a component-based performance model. The platform automates and expedites presales design activities such as comparing array and BOS layouts for roof- or ground-mounted PV systems. This allows users to quickly evaluate potential sites and system design options. For existing commercial rooftops or flat land areas, users can access Google Earth imagery within HelioScope or import their own aerial images. Integration with SketchUp Pro is required for users to analyze new construction, multi-elevation roof planes, 3-D models, point clouds or terrain maps. Because of its component-based performance model, HelioScope is capable of analyzing shade or voltage drop with component-level granularity.

HelioScope is a good fit for anyone who needs to quickly assess potential sites for solar, including project originators, sales support staff, engineers and investors. While the platform primarily addresses presales processes, Folsom Labs recently introduced the ability to export design data for an electrical line diagram. The company is currently developing a network of interoperable software products, including a proposal-generation module, to create a more seamless end-to-end experience. Though some financers ask for additional PVSyst modeling to meet their underwriting requirements, the independent engineering firm DNV GL (formerly BEW Engineering) has validated HelioScope’s performance model.

Folsom Labs /

PVBid PVBid brings machine learning and real-time project cost feedback to the process of structuring bids for commercial-scale solar projects. Its premise is that solar installation companies can improve bidding accuracy and operational effectiveness by learning about the actual costs incurred in the field and how these differ from estimating assumptions. The platform tracks and analyzes task-level construction cost data via integration with accounting tools. This feedback loop allows the platform to display suggestions for users putting together a bid. 

PVBid is currently accepting beta customers. The company designed its platform to cut across work processes, such as bid development, project management, construction and accounting, and provide actionable feedback loops. Its target customers are EPC firms and larger solar installation companies looking to develop more-accurate and competitive bids.

PVBid / 510.473.7246 /

PVComplete PVComplete is a toolbar extension for AutoCAD (the full version), a computer-aided drafting platform that solar companies working in commercial and industrial applications widely use. The platform helps expedite project engineering by automating or streamlining activities such as module and BOS placement, string sizing and shade analysis. It also allows users to quickly run design optimization and other what-if scenarios. Through recent work with the SunShot Catalyst program, PVComplete has developed a web front end called PVSketch that allows execution of quick sales layouts, which users can later import into PVComplete’s flagship product during the project engineering phase.

PVComplete targets draftspersons and engineers at EPC firms that specialize in commercial, industrial and larger-scale projects. A number of EPC firms and large residential solar companies have had to build tools similar to PVComplete in-house. PVComplete brings this functionality to the wider marketplace for smaller solar developers.

PVComplete /

SolarDesignTool SolarDesignTool is cloud-based software that automates many of the routine activities involved in preparing residential permit packages. Platform features include array layout, string sizing for multi-MPPT inverters, voltage drop calculation and basic structural design verification. Users can import aerial imagery or wireframes (skeletal line renderings of a 3-D roof) from companies such as EagleView Technologies or Rooforders. SolarDesignTool exports include a long list of elements necessary for solar permit packages: a single-line diagram, a bill of materials, multiple site plan options, placards and a labels sheet, a structural report for each roof face and subarray, a wire schedule, an abbreviated conductor and conduit schedule, and a long-form wire and conduit report.

SolarDesignTool best fits companies in the residential market that would use it to expedite the process of generating complete engineering plan sets. The most appropriate users of this tool are personnel with at least an intermediate understanding of project design principles.

SolarDesignTool /

Article Discussion

Related Articles