Note: The information contained in this periodical weblog may be outdated. This was my personal weblog published before January 1, 2015. Since then I have been the co-owner and Principal Solar Designer at Florida Solar Design Group.

Sketchup for Solar

3D Drawings are not just for graphics artists and engineers. Sometimes visualizing a concept is tremendously helpful when trying to explain something to a customer or employee. Google Sketchup is a terrific tool that I use to produce 3D renderings of homes with solar energy products. But it is so much more than an architectural tool.

Recently I was trying to explain how solar electric modules are mounted on stand-offs and rails on a tile roof to a customer in Port Charlotte. The easiest way was to use details from a model that I created for a permit package a while ago. I have compiled quite a large library of models showing solar rail attachment details and mounting methods. Whenever I need it for a customer or shop drawing, I can just pull the right details from my library.

Drawing Showing Details of Stand-Off Attachment
Drawing Showing Details of Stand-Off Attachment


Last week I also needed to put into perspective for a customer how much solar power a roof could accommodate. Since I already had the proposed solar module in my library of components, it was simple to put together a rough building model and place modules on the roof. Before even visiting the customer, I can estimate that 516 solar modules should fit, or a 188 kW system!

This Building in Bonita Springs Can Accommodate Lots of Solar Panels

Once a model is built, that’s not the end. The 3D drawing can be used to produce 2D views. These are useful in developing shop drawings, permit packages, and homeowner association approval drawings. Sketchup’s companion program, Google Layout, is the tool used to make 2D renderings from 3D models. A full array of annotations can be made to the 2D drawing.

Solar Shop Drawing
2D Rendering with Annotations Made from 3D Model


It’s no secret that I am a huge Google Sketchup fan. I use it almost every day for something or other. Today I looked at my home and traced out the lawn to determine the size of each section of lawn to determine how much fertilizer I would need. The uses are endless!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *