Finding software can be overwhelming. Software Advice helps energy construction contractors choose the right solar software to design the layout of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.

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JobNimbus

JobNimbus is a CRM and project management solution suitable for home service companies. Manage your contacts, tasks, and projects from start to finish along with detailed reporting capabilities. With JobNimbus, businesses can... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 78 recommendations

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ConstructionOnline

UDA Technologies’ ConstructionOnline offers a web-based, integrated approach to project management, project scheduling, and customer management. Designed for emerging construction businesses in the homebuilding and remodeling indu... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 78 recommendations

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WinEst

WinEst is an on-premise database-driven estimating solution that helps estimators in businesses across various industries to manage and integrate project estimates using cost-knowledge management. Key features include construction... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 28 recommendations

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Accubid Anywhere

For electrical, industrial mechanical, and ICT contractors who need a flexible estimating tool to quickly and accurately create estimates, Trimble’s Accubid Estimating is a full-featured estimating solution. Available in multiple ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 26 recommendations

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Acumatica Cloud ERP

Acumatica Construction Edition is true cloud construction and accounting software that provides office and field teams real-time data including job costing, change orders, project management, dashboards and more. With field and of... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 20 recommendations

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CMiC

For over 30 years, CMiC has delivered state-of-the-art software solutions, purpose-built for the construction industry. Since its inception, CMiC has maintained a laser focus on automating essential back-office functions – such as... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 16 recommendations

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Jonas Enterprise

Jonas Enterprise is an intuitive, integrated solution for contractors that has been present in construction and service management for over 25 years. The application offers service, accounting, and operations project management ca... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 13 recommendations

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JOBPROGRESS

JOBPROGRESS is a cloud-based construction management solution for residential remodeling contractors. The solution works with small businesses and can be customized as per the needs of an organization. It offers estimating, projec... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 11 recommendations

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Spectrum

Spectrum (formerly Dexter + Cheney) is a cloud-based construction ERP solution for small, midsize and large enterprises. Primary features include accounting, document management, job cost, project management, equipment management,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 10 recommendations

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Jobber

Jobber is a cloud-based field service management software solution that allows small and midsize service businesses to manage field staff, provide customer support, and expand business operations either through a mobile app or a d... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 8 recommendations

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B2W Estimate

B2W Estimate software for heavy civil construction estimating and bidding enables contractors to bid with speed, accuracy, and strategy. Users can pre-populate a centralized database with cost data and structures for labor, tasks,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 6 recommendations

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plexxis

Plexxis offers comprehensive solutions created specifically for the most demanding specialty sub-contractors. With on premise, subscription, cloud-based and mobile options, Plexxis delivers office and field efficiencies for accoun... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 6 recommendations

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McCormick Plumbing and Mechanical Estimating

McCormick Plumbing & Mechanical Estimating software was developed specifically to handle the needs of construction firms that operate in the plumbing and mechanical piping trades. The software’s strength lies in the estimating, ta... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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HQ Platform

Infinity is a cloud-based construction management solution that helps small to large enterprises manage HR operations, field layouts and building information modeling (BIM) services. Users can configure role-based access across pr... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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Knowify

Knowify is a cloud-based construction management solution that is designed for residential contractors and small to midsize commercial subcontractors. It is suitable for trades, including Landscaping, roofing and masonry. Kno... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 4 recommendations

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Explorer Eclipse

Eclipse by Explorer is a cloud-based construction accounting and project management solution designed for contractor businesses. It caters to medium to large construction companies belonging to different construction businesses, s... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 4 recommendations

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e-Builder Enterprise

e-Builder is a cloud-based construction program management solution for capital projects that provides performance data across the project lifecycle. Facility owners can track business processes with centralized project informatio... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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Oracle Primavera Cloud

For more than 30 years, successful projects around the world have relied on Oracle’s Primavera solutions to plan, build, and operate critical assets. It is the only solution that integrates project and portfolio planning and deliv... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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B2W Schedule

B2W Schedule software for heavy civil construction scheduling and dispatching is a centralized, online solution for managing employees, crews, equipment, materials, and trucking across job locations and over time. Employees throug... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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Ventus

Ventus is a service and construction ERP solution that incorporates CRM, takeoff estimating, job costing, project management, service management, service dispatch, product distribution, inventory control, payroll and accounting in... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Buyers guide

Designing the layout for rooftop photovoltaic (PV) solar panels is a complicated process that many energy construction contractors need to manage while overseeing material costs and customer requirements.

Not only do contractors need to calculate the exact cost of raw materials required to install the solar panels, inverters, or power optimizers, they often also need to provide detailed return on investment (ROI) reports calculating annual energy savings for both commercial and residential customers.

All these administrative tasks can result in contractors having less time to spend on designing solar panel layouts. Enter solar design tools, which reduce administrative clutter by automating the design process and manage costs and customer requirements in a centralized dashboard.

In this buyers guide, we'll take a look at how solar design software helps automate key processes.

Here's what we'll cover:

What is Solar Software?
Common features of solar software
What type of buyer are you?
Benefits of solar software
Key considerations when purchasing solar software

 

What is Solar Software?

Solar software (aka solar design software) helps residential and commercial solar construction businesses plan and design layouts for installing PV panels on rooftops or other locations to optimize energy efficiency. These systems also help business manage solar sales proposals by showing customers PV panel design layouts, track material costs for PV system installations, manage energy storage, and generate energy usage reports and estimates.

HelioScope solar software

View of photovoltaic solar system design in HelioScope (Source)

 

Common features of solar software

Solar software often comes loaded with features, many of which may not be specific to your business needs.

When making your software purchase, focus on the core or common features offered by your shortlisted solutions to ensure you invest in the right tool. Here are the common features you should look for when evaluating solar software:

2D and 3D drawing

Create 2D and 3D drawings of area layouts for PV panel installation.

Animation

Create 3D animations of PV panel layouts to gain a holistic view of PV electrical fittings.

Electrical schematic design

Create blueprints of the electrical schematics required to connect PV panels to main electrical units.

Bill of materials

Create a list of every part or component that makes up a product, including product numbers and quantities.

Data import/export

Users can import/export images, files, and PDFs as needed.

Reporting dashboard

View information related to solar power consumption, financial analysis, and energy savings in a single dashboard.

What type of buyer are you?

Choosing the right solar software depends on the size and requirements of your solar industry business.

Here are three common types of solar software buyers and their unique considerations:

  • Small and midsize businesses. In this segment, buyers have a limited software budget, and their primary concern is often tool pricing. As small and midsize energy construction contractors typically offer solar energy solutions to residential units or smaller businesses, they can use cloud-based solar software instead of on-premise tools to stay within their budget.
  • Large enterprises. Businesses in this segment require software with advanced functionalities, and often have a larger budget to work with. Larger energy construction contractors cater to a wider audience, often installing solar panels on a bigger scale (e.g., warehouse rooftops, industrial buildings). Cloud-based solar software allows larger construction enterprises to choose from a suite of features such as 2D PV layout design, proposal generation, and sales management.
  • Best-of-breed buyers. This segment of buyers has mixed business requirements, similar to those listed above. Since they offer solar energy solutions to residences as well as bigger industrial units, these contractors often need solar software with a complete suite of features.

Benefits of solar software

No matter which of the above three buyer segments you belong in, solar software can help your business. Let's take a look at three key benefits:

  • Reduces raw materials waste. By creating the exact layout for each panel's installation, solar software helps business gauge the amount of raw materials required for electrical fittings to avoid waste.
  • Aids proposal and sales management. For customers who aren't sure how much they'll save by using solar power, solar software helps business generate proposals to highlight overall ROI post-installation.
  • Estimates total energy consumption for prospective systems. Once a PV layout is created, solar software reporting dashboards can estimate overall annual energy savings and assess the cost benefits of solar panel installation.

Key considerations when purchasing solar software

Your final step when purchasing solar software is evaluating these key areas to ensure your business makes the ideal purchase:

  • Integration with third-party software. Are you already using imaging software such as AutoCAD to design solar panel layouts in 2D and 3D? Ensure that the solar software you purchase integrates with this and any other design software you use.
  • Customer support. Does the solar software vendor offer 24/7 customer support? Are there any training modules or FAQs that can help you troubleshoot encountered issues? Make sure the vendor offers any and all support your business needs before purchasing.
  • Mobile application. Determine whether the solar software vendor you're considering offers a mobile app so employees can use the solution while working off-site.

Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.