The Designs → System Design section is where you place modules on the structure, generate your irradiance map and can see a 3D visualization of the system you have created. It provides a visual, CAD-like interface that makes it easy and fast to put together even complex system designs.
Before starting to create your design, you will need to make sure that you have modeled your site. Check out tips if you haven't previously here!
When entering Designs → System Design, you will see any roofs, obstructions and trees that you have previously modeled. Note that these are not editable in this view - if you would like to make changes to your site, you will have to go back to Site Model → 2D.
In this view, you can place your modules, inverters and balance of system components, define your strings and connect your system.
The Top Toolbar
You can access all the visual components of your design in the toolbar on the top of the screen. From left to right, the functions in the toolbar are:
Run Design Validation: Clicking here will run a sequence of error checks on your design and open a window with the validation report.
Details: Here you can toggle Azimuths and Setbacks: Toggling Azimuths will toggle on azimuth arrows, that you can drag and rotate to change the snap grid for modules. This way you can specify which way modules will be oriented when you move them or when you fill in a roof face. Toggling Setbacks will toggle the visibility of any setbacks you have previously defined.
Irradiance: generates a map with shading values then allows you to toggle on and off. This will automatically generate a new irradiance map if none has been generated yet or if the site has been changed.
Toggle Map Imagery: Click on the mountain icon to toggle satellite imagery on and off. You can also select between Google and Bing imagery or a custom image (previously uploaded in your site model) in the drop down menu.
Export: Here you can export a Screenshot or DXF. Screenshot Generates a screenshot and opens it in a new tab. DXF downloads the design as a .dxf file. You will be prompted to specify which layers (e.g. modules, connections) you would like to export.
- Settings: Here you can select display options for Monthly Irradiance / Solar Access and Show help / Status Messages. Monthly Irradiance / Solar Access will show an active graph to demonstrate the monthly irradiance an solar access where you place your cursor on the roof. Show help / Status Messages will pop up suggestions on the next steps in your design in the bottom middle of the screen.
The Right Toolbar
You can access all the functionality required to create a design in the toolbar on the right of the screen. From top to bottom, the functions in the toolbar are:
Auto Design: Allows you to generate a design based off of target energy offset or savings by comparing multiple components and automatically designing the most optimal configuration.
Solar Panels: You can add solar panels to the design using the following options:
- Modules: Add modules manually. In the resulting pop-up window you can specify the module, number of rows and columns, orientation, tilt, row spacing, as well as whether you would like to attach a microinverter or a DC optimizer.
- Rack/Carport: Add a rack or carport assembly. In the resulting pop-up window you can specify the module, number of rows and columns, orientation, tilt, height, X and Y module spacing, as well as whether you would like to attach a microinverter or a DC optimizer.
- Fill Roof Face: Fills a roof face with modules. Aurora will try to fill as many modules as possible onto the roof face, given the parameters you specify. These parameters include the module orientation, tilt, row spacing, and whether you would like to place a string inverter, microinverters and DC optimizers. You can also specify a minimum solar access percentage (SAP), in which case Aurora will only place modules in locations that have a higher SAP than the threshold you specified (thereby you can avoid shaded areas). Furthermore, there are a number of advanced features, which are primarily useful for commercial system design. They allow you to specify the desired DC/AC ratio, the Overcurrent Ratio, combiner and recombiner boxes and load centers.
- Fill Zone: Fills a roof zone with modules. Aurora will fill as many modules as possible onto the zone specified, given the parameters you specify. These parameters include the preset tilt, module, orientation, tilt, row spacing, and whether you would like to place a microinverter, DC optimizers and string inverter. You can also specify a minimum solar access percentage (SAP), in which case Aurora will only place modules in locations that have a higher SAP than the threshold you specified (thereby you can avoid shaded areas). Furthermore, there are a number of advanced features, which are primarily useful for commercial system design. They allow you to specify the desired DC/AC ratio and the Overcurrent Ratio.
- Inverter: Places a string inverter
- BOS Components:
- Combiner Box: Places a combiner box
- Load Center: Places a load center
- Service Panel: Places a service panel. You will be able to specify whether the service panel is the main service panel and whether it already exists, or whether it will be installed. Existing service panels will not show up in the bill of materials and the cost breakdown
- Meter: Places a meter. You will be able to specify, whether this meter already exists (for example if you want to model a pre-existing utility meter) or whether it will be installed. Existing meters will not show up in the bill of materials and the cost breakdown.
- Disconnect: Places a disconnect.
String Modules: Enters Stringing Mode. Check out this How To Guide to learn how!
Connect: Enter "connect" mode. When in this mode you click on a component to start a connection and click on a second module to finish the connection between the two components. If the connection is invalid (e.g. you can't connect a combiner box directly to a load center), Aurora will reject the connection and throw an error message.
- Walkway: Add in walkways on your roof.
- Roof Face Info: After selecting this option, click on a roof face to get information including pitch, tilt, area, azimuth, module count, average irradiance and solar access (both across the roof face and across all modules on the face).
- Ruler: The ruler lets your take measurements of distances and angles. After selecting this option, click twice in the viewport to measure the distance between two points. Hold down Ctrl to place additional points to measure angles. Right click on the viewport to clear existing measurements.
Note that most commands in the toolbar have keyboard shortcuts
The Compass Toolbar
The compass at the top indicates the cardinal directions in the layout view. The + and - are zoom in and zoom out respectively. The hand is Pan. The circular arrow enables you to rotate the viewpoint. Clicking the north arrow on the compass resets the viewpoint to the default north-south alignment.
The Status Bar
The status bar in the bottom right gives you some live summary information on the system you are designing—the number of modules in your system, the system size (in kW) and the project price. The latter is calculated based on the per-watt price that your specified when you created the design, as well as the system size.