The U.S. solar industry is growing at a staggering rate. In 2007, the solar industry generated roughly $42 million in revenues. A decade later, that number jumped to more than $210 million.
But industry growth alone does not guarantee commercial solar installers will find business. To be successful, commercial solar companies need to constantly be generating solar leads and managing them as prospects.
The right software makes it much easier to do so.
In this article, we look at the various types of solar software, including specific software applications that can save commercial solar installers valuable time, money and staff resources.
|Best Software Tools for Solar Companies|
|1. Solar Lead Generation Software|
|2. Solar Design Software|
|3. Solar Proposal Software|
|4. Solar Monitoring Software|
|5. Solar Asset Management Software|
|6. Solar Project Management Software|
Solar software is intended to make commercial solar installers’ lives easier. These programs help simplify business operations and processes, helping companies deliver better services and manage better customer relationships.
Consider, for instance, the value of solar software that allows companies to evaluate the specific financing opportunities for any given commercial solar project.
This helps solar companies in the proposal stage, as they can provide realistic quotes for customers based on current financing alternatives. Companies can run quotes and qualify prospects before going too far down the rabbit hole.
If it appears that a deal doesn’t pencil out, that company can cut its losses and move on to generating solar leads elsewhere. The time saved by leveraging solar software applications can instead be spent connecting with property owners and scaling their business.
And this is just one of many examples. Let’s dive into the various types of solar software helping companies succeed in commercial real estate.
Solar Lead Generation Software
The Reonomy platform serves solar installers with a way to find hyper-targeted commercial real estate leads in any U.S. market in a matter of minutes.
Multi family and commercial assets of any kind can be searched based on building and lot characteristics, sales and debt history, and ownership and tenant information.
With a quick property search, you can find commercial assets of a specific building and lot size and age in your target market.
All of this can be compiled into a lengthy and hyper-targeted lead list of property owners, essentially letting you generate solar leads on demand.
You can use owner contact information to reach out directly to owners at the right time and make your pitch.
Solar Design Software
Commercial solar projects can be complicated—and expensive. That’s why the design is so important from the outset.
Whether you’re installing PV solar panels on a 50,000 square foot commercial roof, or lining a cornfield with solar, the design is critical for maximizing energy production and cost savings.
Here are a few solar design software tools the commercial solar companies may find helpful:
SunDAT is a solar design software geared toward helping installation companies maximize PV layouts on the most complex boundaries.
It provides automated module layout to optimize space, including the placing of roads or aisles, regardless of site obstructions and topography. SunDAT can be used for all kinds and sizes of commercial solar projects, from a 1MW parking canopy to a 150MW utility-scale ground mount.
PVComplete offers several solar design software tools. PVSketch, for instance, is a web-based tool that allows solar salespeople to create endless layouts and production models for their customers based on site size and location.
Meanwhile, PVCAD is integrated with Autodesk to allow solar engineers and designers to model shadows, energy production and more.
All PVSketch designs can be imported to PVCAD when commercial solar installers are ready to move into project engineering for with their customers.
HelioScope is a product by Folsom Labs that integrates power simulation engineering, advanced algorithms, and graphics to help commercial solar companies improve their PV solar design speeds by up to 10x.
The company prides itself on being a highly intuitive software for solar installers to use, making it easier than ever for staff to run multiple simulations with just the click of a button.
PVsyst allows users to follow a simple, three-step process when designing PV solar projects: Just set your desired power or project area, then choose the PV module and inverter from PVsyst’s internal database and the solar design software will generate a proposed solar configuration that serves as a preliminary simulation.
The program uses a color-coded system to indicate potential system challenges, which allows the user to modify the configuration accordingly.
Solar Proposal Software
Solar proposal software applications allow commercial solar companies to provide timely, accurate proposals for their prospective customers.
Proposals that used to take days – even weeks – to complete can now be generated seamlessly with these software applications:
Aurora Solar is used by commercial solar companies needing to move quickly. This solar proposal software allows users to design and quote solar systems remotely.
No more traveling to conduct a site walk, take measurements, or evaluate how much direct sunlight a site gets. Aurora Solar’s unique remote site analysis feature helps solar installers generate accurate solar proposals in minutes.
Aurora Solar proposals integrate design and financial feasibility, thereby providing realistic estimates as to the financial returns a customer might reasonable expects if they were to move forward with the solar installation.
MODsolar allows solar installers to generate proposals with just a few simple clicks. The solar proposal software is geared toward smaller solar companies looking to gain wider traction in their local markets.
Users can churn out individualized proposals in less than five minutes, including options for custom-fit solar PV design and incentives and other loans to help finance the project. Importantly, the MODsolar software design is simple: users do NOT need to be CAD experts to generate proposals using this program.
Solar Monitoring Software
There are all kinds of solar monitoring software applications on the market these days. Some solar monitoring software tools help installers measure an installation’s potential ROI.
Other solar monitoring software tools measure a project’s performance.
These software applications help commercial installers throughout the lifecycle of their business with a client – beyond just prospecting, design and proposal generation. Instead, these tools can be used to assist clients with reporting over time.
TrueCapture by NEXTracker combines advanced sensor, weather forecasting, and machine-learning technologies to help maximize the solar production of commercial PV solar projects. TrueCapture monitors this data and, using the company’s tracking algorithms, allows the solar array to adjust for things like changing weather conditions.
Tigo Energy’s TS4-M monitoring system uses software to remotely detect and diagnose any solar performance issues.
The software sends notifications that allow owners to proactively intervene and maximize system uptime. Benefits include better fleet management and lower O&M costs.
TS4-M can be combined with Tigo’s other software applications, such as TS4-F, which provides a rapid shutdown solution in the event of a fire.
PQube 3 by Power Standards Lab is a solar monitoring software application that simultaneously monitors DC voltage and AC output in real time.
These power diagnostics are combined with recorded environmental data such as temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, vibration, and solar irradiance.
Together, this data helps owners understand the health and efficiency of their PV array at any given point in time.
Solar Asset Management Software
Solar asset management software applications can be used for an array of purposes: performance monitoring, contracts and compliance, tasks and work orders, invoicing, reporting, financial analysis, document management and more.
Here are a few solar asset management software programs to consider:
BluePoint provides a 360-degree of alternative energy assets (including solar, wind, hydropower and more).
All of the system’s data is kept in a central location, allowing owners to track the asset (and mitigate risks) throughout its lifecycle.
BluePoint is particularly helpful for those who own or operate multiple assets, as asset information can be presented within a single dashboard indicating total MW capacity, upcoming milestones, contracts and more. BluePoint’s tagging features allow data to be searched by keyword, system, portfolio or use. All information is stored on a secure cloud-based platform.
Arbox specializes in asset management & O&M software in the solar and wind industries.
The software was designed by a solar asset management firm in need of a comprehensive software platform that consolidated all data into a single system. The software allows users to perform both technical and financial asset management in a single platform.
Features include operational administration, financial management, performance monitoring and report generation.
ACTIS, a solar asset management software program by Alectris, provides users with account and contact management, activity management, contract management and compliance, PPA management, warranty management, cash flow management, loan management and more.
ACTIS software monitors KPIs for individual systems as well as KPIs aggregated over an entire solar portfolio.
Importantly, asset managers are automatically alerted if cash flows drop below expectations so they can adjust as needed to protect investors’ upside.
Solar Project Management Software
Large commercial solar projects can be complicated, with many moving parts at any given point in time.
That’s why solar project management software is so critically important to commercial solar installers.
Rather than getting stuck in the weeds of a project, these software tools allow commercial solar installers to take a step back and focus on generating new commercial solar leads instead.
ENACT provides a single, integrated solar project management platform. Users can design systems, identify financing, monitor installation and provide asset management using this single solar project management software.
ENACT is tailored toward corporate solar customers, from industrial investors to retail and hospitality. In particular, ENACT’s installation management tools stand out.
The tool enables users to monitor milestones through its workflow system, manage subcontractor bid processes, create project checklists and schedules, and coordinate multiple workflows on this integrated system.
SolarNexus combines CRM, design tools, proposal generation and project management within the same solar software program.
This software is intended to help smaller commercial solar installers streamline processes, such as designing and quoting projects, so they can spend more time scaling their business.
SolarNexus is one of the oldest solar project management software applications in the market, and as such, is highly trusted within the industry.