Why You Should Be Careful With Free Solar Sizing Software

Photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of a hou...
Photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of a house near Boston Massachusetts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why you should be careful with free solar sizing software or tools?

Free software for solar power system sizing could be easily found on the Internet, on sites of most solar vendors. It appears attractive since everybody would be excited to get a solar system evaluated for free. At least this is what those free sizing tools are claimed to do.

Get a solar system evaluated for free… Let’s think a little of these words!

I’m going to pose a couple of questions.

Is this evaluation really for free?

Is this really an evaluation?

Is this actually what you need to get?

And last but not least – nowadays ‘free’ appears commonly as a trap. Where is the trap here?

Now, if you’re a normal person who has not already decided to buy a solar system, you would be interested in a couple of issues, such as:

–      Is solar energy for me?

–      What is the solar system configuration that would best fit my daily energy needs, available roof area and available budget?

–      How would my geographic location reflect on the solar system size?

–      How much will cost an optimal solar configuration?

–      If my budget is not enough for an optimal solar configuration where could I make any compromises?

–      What are going to be my annual profits and annual expenses?

–      Will annually rising prices of electricity help get a higher profit?

–      In how much time will my solar system be paid off?

That’s ok but how does actually a free solar sizing tool look like?

You are supposed to select a solar panel model and inverter model. Then you get the results: how many modules will you need to meet your energy target and whether you can do with a single inverter of the chosen type or you need a couple of ones. Moreover, you are also recommended how many modules of that type to connect in series and how many in parallel.

What’s wrong here?

On one hand, you are not in clear what solar module type is the best one. You do not have enough technical background to compare solar modules based on their technical parameters. The only result you get is how many modules you need to meet your target.

The number of solar panels needed however might not be the optimal one, since with another vendor you might get totally different results – different number of panels of another vendor, with other parameters. And last but not least – priced higher or lower.

Therefore by using a free software for solar sizing, you might end up paying a higher price for equipment you don’t need. For example, you might get calculated that to meet your daily target you need 7 solar panels of a specific type by vendor A and 6 panels by vendor B. Every solar vendor wants to entice you as their customer and will act as though no other solar vendors exist. What comes next, you should compare the price of vendor A and vendor B.

Moreover, you should get informed which vendor is more reputable. And so you get into the solar-vendor-cycle. You deal with piles of solar panel models, you get overwhelmed with technical parameters since each vendor offers solar panels with different characteristics, you get a variety of numbers of panels you need. The lowest number seems attractive, but how could you be sure it’s not overestimated?

Furthermore, such a free software tool is not actually what you need as a person seeking whether to benefit from solar or not. The reason is that you are not provided with any means of economic estimation – that is, evaluate your system with regards to:

  • Rising electricity prices,
  • Your potential annual solar income
  • Your annual expenses for solar system maintenance
  • Any solar incentives you could be eligible to
  • Any costs of getting your building connected to the grid (in case you live in a remote area)
  • The payback period of your system

You see, free sizing tools are rather limited. They are not for people who have not already decided to go solar. They are not for people who need to get a techno-economic evaluation of an optimal solar system that would match best their needs, budget and available roof area. Instead, such free software tools are for people who:

  • Have already decided to buy a solar system
  • Have already chosen a specific solar vendor
  • Have a substantial knowledge of various solar components offered by that solar vendor
  • Have a high enough budget available.

This could mean that they do not need any economic evaluation of the system since they are not afraid of rising energy prices. Furthermore, it’s for those people it’s more important to choose a leading and highly reputable (therefore more expensive) solar vendor than to throw a couple of hundred dollars for solar components they actually do not need.

What we offer is not just a solar system sizing tool. Our tool is for solar system evaluation which spreads far beyond the plain solar components sizing. What is more, our product is for people who are making their first steps in solar system field of information. Click Here to discover how our solar system sizing tool can help you get the most affordable and efficient solar panel system

We are not trying to tell you that this software is a paid substitute for those free calculators because it does not do the same type of calculations. Instead, it is recommended for system evaluation which is always supposed to precede the vendor selection process. It is not a plain system sizing tool but rather it gives the answer to lots of questions and concerns to any person who is interested in photovoltaics.

Indeed, you cannot go selecting a specific panel model and inverter model before even get informed whether the solar radiation in your area is suitable for installing a solar system. You cannot go shopping without the least idea of what you need – therefore what to look for being already at the shopping center.

Furthermore, you do not go shopping being unaware of how much money you have and how much you are prepared to spend. For this reason what would be normal is to spend $100 on getting your specific case evaluated than spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a system or system components you might not need.

And why that? Due to a hasty and inconsiderate advice with a dealer trying to sell as many of his production as possible. It’s quite a common vendor’s practice by the way, isn’t it?

Click here to discover more about our Solar packages helping you get the most efficient cheap and aesthetically pleasing solar panel system either for your home or business.

 

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Lacho Pop, MSE, holds a Master's Degree in Electronics and Automatics. He has more than 15 years of experience in the design and implementation of various sophisticated electronic, solar power, and telecommunication systems.  He authored and co-authored several practical solar books in the field of solar power and solar photovoltaics. All the books were well-received by the public. You can discover more about his bestselling solar books on Amazon on his profile page here: Lacho Pop, MSE Profile

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