PV-DesignPro Quick Start - (Text from program help file)

PV-DesignPro can help you to evaluate PV system designs more effectively than current worksheet based methods.   Also, it is an in-depth learning tool that produces information on likely system performance never before possible.  Its built-in databases of common equipment and user-oriented interface will make it possible to reach a new level of PV design conception and performance maximization.   PV systems are far too expensive to rely on crude sizing methods, where uneeded over-design of panels or batteries could cost thousands of extra dollars.  PV-DesignPro will more than pay for itself with the money saved on redundant equipment that is often included in system designs.  Appropriate software has been long needed in this area to solve tough questions on proper system design and configuration.  To use the program, follow the quick start steps below…

1. Load a sample PV system file.
Use the file menu to load a sample file.  Once the file is loaded, the toolbar becomes active and you can modify the system components.

2. Choose a climate.
Use the climate toolbar button to bring up the climate window.  Using the file selection box, select a climate.  239 climates from around the U.S. are available in hour-by-hour format.  Once the climate is selected, you will see the average temperature and daily radiation amounts on the climate summary tab, and monthly and daily charts of this data on those respective tabs.  Viewing this data helps to understand the climate with which you are working.  Close the climate window.

3. Adjust the Load.
Click the load toolbar button.  This brings up the load window where the daily electrical load on the PV system can be adjusted.  Two load profiles are available: weekday and weekend.  Both are divided into AC and DC loads.  AC loads will be increased by the amount due to efficiency losses caused by an AC inverter.  Typical electrical loads are detailed in the standard loads database, which can be brought up by pressing this button.  Add together all loads for respective hours and enter their sum, by hour, into the data grid.  Load profile charts for weekdays and weekends help to understand the load profiles.  Holidays are accounted for as weekends in the simulation.

4. Design the PV Array.
Click the array button on the toolbar.  The array window is simpler than it looks.  Select a panel from the panel database.  Its parameters will automatically be incorporated into the information boxes on the window.  In general, boxes in black with blue text are program outputs in PV-DesignPro and cannot be directly modified.  In general, white boxes with black text are meant to be direct user inputs into the program.  With this in mind, there are only 2 user inputs boxes on the window: Number of parallel panel connection strings and Number of panels in each parallel string.  These numbers are what control the total number of panels in the array and the electrical characteristics of the array.

Current is additive for panels mounted in parallel, and voltage is additive for panels mounted in series.  With this in mind, adjust these numbers so that the array will match the intended battery bank voltage (the voltage at the maximum power point of the array should be about 1.5 times the nominal battery bank voltage for them to match).  Also, the AC inverter voltage must match the battery bank voltage.  You can view the array electrical parameters on the array parameters tab.  Data for individual panels in the array are to the left of the window, and come from the database.  Various charts are available for the array on the other tabs which will not be detailed here.  Click the tracking button to select one of the 6 available tracking methods.  Click the MPPT button to use a maximum power point tracking device in the system, and input its efficiency.  Fixed test conditions normally stay the same and do not need to be altered.  Close the array window.

5. Choose a Wiring Configuration.
Click the wiring toolbar button.  The panel to battery wiring has two parameters: length and diameter.  The length is the distance between the array and the battery bank.  Two wire runs are accounted for in this distance.  Also, input the diameter of the wire (metal diameter) to be used.  Close the wiring window.

6. Design the Battery Bank.
Click the battery toolbar button.  Using the battery database button, you can choose the type of battery used.  The number of parallel connections and number of units in each parallel connection are similar to the panel inputs, and are adjusted knowing current is additive for parallel connections, and voltage is additive for series connections.  Be careful to match the array voltage and the AC inverter voltage.  Close the battery window after reviewing the available charts.

7. Backup Battery Charging.
Click the backup button.  This window controls backup battery charging.  When the batteries are discharged to the backup "ON" state of charge (%), they will be cut off from the rest of the system and begin to be charged at the amps charging rate.  When they are charged to the backup "OFF" state of charge, the charger will be shut off and the batteries reconnected to the load.  Adjust these parameters so that the batteries will be prevented from reaching too low a level of discharge and charging will be at a rate capable by the backup battery charger.  Close this window.

8. AC Inverter.
Click the AC inverter button.  Pick an inverter from the inverter database, being careful that the load will not exceed its continuous power capability.  A graph shows the efficiency of the inverter at various loads.  Close the inverter window.

9. Calculate the Results for the System.
Press the calculate button.  Approximately 8-20 seconds (8 seconds at 200Mhz, 15 seconds at 100 Mhz), the results window will appear with the results of an hour-by-hour simulation of the system.  From this window, you can view:

A. Month by month solar fractions (the percent of electricity provided by solar energy).
B. Battery states-of-charge by month.
C. An Annual Energy Cost Analysis, which is the starting point for the next tab.

D. The Lifecycle Financial Analysis, which is a proforma estimate of the costs and savings involved with the system.
E. Detailed hourly charts with the system load and battery SOC, tracking angles and cell efficiency, or array power output charts (by pressing these chart buttons).  Every week of the year can be selected for these charts.
F. Formatted system reports can be printed by pressing the print system reports button.  Advanced "parametric" analysis is also included on this window.
G. To view the hourly data in numerical format, press the view hourly data button.  This will write all the simulation data held in RAM to the disk, and then make it viewable in a window on the screen.  Almost every calculation done in the simulation becomes directly viewable in this window.  This is useful for detailed analysis of system performance or to answer questions about how the program computes results.

Close the results window when done.

10. Save the New File.
The modified PV system can now be saved as a new PV system file by using the PV system files menu option on the main screen and inputting a name.  Also, parameters can be changed again, and the system recalculated until optimal values are reached.

The above “quick start” information should be all one needs to effectively use PV-DesignPro and learn more about the design of photovoltaic energy systems.  More detailed questions are answered in the other help files.  Please bear in mind that the accuracy of the simulation is dramatically increased by sticking to “realistic” values.