My job is to help growing solar companies manage their training program. It’s the best. But I don’t teach the classes, so I rely on smart people like Sean White to answer technical questions. Here’s a question I get a lot:

Where’s the best place to get basic CAD training for an entry level person who wants to start doing site layouts?

Sean covers site layouts and basic PV design in his NABCEP PV Associate course, but we don’t spend much time on the mechanics of creating the drawings.

Here’s what Sean recommends:

The best place to learn about software is usually from who designs the software. They have an incentive to help someone learn and often for free.

That being said, AutoCAD is the industry standard for CAD and has a large learning curve. I recommend someone take a Community College AutoCAD course to learn AutoCAD.

Once someone knows how to use AutoCAD, then they can take that knowledge along with the material in our class specific to PV and design a system.

Other solutions include Sketchup, which was originally designed by Google and has a free version. Most people learn it from the Sketchup YouTube videos.

Skelion is a company that makes a Sketchup add-on.

Many PV proposal and analysis software companies have some design functions, such as Aurora, Helioscope and PVsyst. There is also PVCAD and a lot more.

If we were to teach software for how to do CAD programs, it would be difficult to pick which one to use and then it would not be relevant to the other software.

Just to answer this question with one URL for something cheap (free version) and easy:

This will work for layouts and permit packages. I also recommend using a permit service for your first permits and they are about $300 per permit and I have a list of them in the class.

What Drawing Program Do You Use for Solar Projects?

Should we be offering courses in one or more of these drawing programs? Which one do you think is best? We’re always interested in what the pros are doing.

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