Google Sketchup, a free 3D drawing tool for PC and Mac, can be used to accurately lay out solar modules to avoid shading for a selected geographic location and any time of the day or year.
Many people are users of Google's 3D drawing tool, Sketchup. What many solar designers don't know is that Sketchup can be used to draw a solar array, place it in a specific geographic location and then see the effects of shading on the array over the course of a year. Here are the specific steps to view your array in Sketchup:
- Download and install the free Google Sketchup program.
- Take advantage of hundreds of free 3rd party and Google created tutorials to feel comfortable with the Sketchup interface.
- Draw your own solar array, or download and modify one from the 3D Warehouse built into Sketchup.
- Site the array on or near its planned location using the Google Earth plugin
- Use the Shadows tool to visualize shading of the array for any time of the year.