Top 4 best solar design and proposal software

Need to know the differences between the best solar design software? We compare Helioscope, Solar Proof, Pylon and Open Solar to see which one is best for you

Updated:
June 17, 2022
Need to know the differences between the best solar design software? We compare Helioscope, Solar Proof, Pylon and Open Solar to see which one is best for you
Lucian Wu
Lucian Wu

There are so many solar design software available that there is no “best” software. It depends on what designs you do, who your customers are, how many quotes you need to send out, etc.

Below are 4 such software that I’ve used, and have written individual reviews.

I wanted to review Solar Plus also, but was unfortunately not given the opportunity to.

Keep reading to find out which one is suitable for your company.

You will find some tables below with some symbols:

  • ✓ means that this feature is included at no extra cost
  • $ means it is an additional premium feature 

Which solar design software is the easiest to use?

I found Pylon to be the easiest software to use. The interface was the most modern looking. Navigation was simple to understand and the general feel of the software was that it is built like a modern SAAS (Software as a service) product.

Solar Proof Open Solar Pylon Helioscope
Maps
Google
Nearmap $ $ $
Bing - - -
Google 3D - - -
 
Design
User Interface Outdated Outdated Modern Outdated
Snap to grid -
Inverters
Batteries $ -
Panel Strings - -
Error 6.67% 7.17% 10.28% 12.36%

Solar Proof and Open Solar are also not far behind. Their designs snapped easily to the grid, searching was easy, and changing existing designs a breeze. 

The only issue I had was with Helioscope. their panel placements are automatically allocated based on the area you provided. This proved most problematic on residential rooftops.

On the other hand, Helioscope is by far the quickest to design when the solar system is in excess of 50kW. The larger the system, the more efficient Helioscope becomes.

In terms of accuracy, Solar Proof was the most accurate with an error rate of 6.67%. You can read more about it here. This is followed closely by Open Solar. The highest error was Helioscope at 12.36%.

I have to caveat this by saying that this test was constricted to the following:

  • 1 location
  • 1 solar array
  • 1 year (01/01/2021 - 31/12/2021)

If I had access to more data, the rankings may prove to be different.

Which solar design software has the best proposals?

The ultimate measurement of the “best” proposal should be the conversion rate. 

However, I don’t have that kind of data. If any of you have access to that, I’d love to find out.

Some of the other important features of proposals are:

  • E-signatures
  • Custom Branding

E signatures are vital

E signatures save customers a lot of hassle. Previously, they would need to print out the contract, sign it, and then return it. But e-signatures speeds that process and you will forever keep the copy.

Custom Branding 

You don’t want your customer to receive the same looking proposal from 3 different solar installers. 

At the very least, your proposal should allow you to embed your logo and your colour scheme. 

Solar Proof, Open Solar and Pylon all include this.

Which solar design software is cheapest?

The cheapest software depends on how many quotes you typically send you in a month. Pricing models vary from paying per quote, to paying for a flat monthly subscription. 

The table below shows the prices of each quote, assuming each quote is an average 6kW solar system.

Solar Proof Open Solar Pylon Helioscope
Cost per quote per month
1 quote - total 6kW Free Free $4.16 $135.00
10 quotes - total 60kW $8.00 Free $3.85 $13.50
100 quotes - total 600kW $2.60 Free $3.70 $1.35
1000 quotes - total 6000kW $1.79 Free $3.70 $0.14
 
Cost per quote per month with Nearmap
1 quote - total 6kW Free $250.00 $11.99 $385.00
10 quotes - total 60kW $8.00 $25.00 $11.32 $38.50
100 quotes - total 600kW $2.60 $2.50 $11.11 $3.85
1000 quotes - total 6000kW $1.79 $0.25 $11.11 $0.39

As you can see, it is hard to beat Open Solar when they offer a free product. As I said in my Open Solar Review, they charge their manufacturing partners rather than solar installation customers. 

The problem with Open Solar is that NearMap does not come free. You will need a separate subscription with NearMap (around $250 AUD per month). 

The question is, “Do you need NearMap at all?”

That depends on you. Some of my clients believe that it is crucial to have the latest and best resolution imagery as possible.

Pylon charges 100 credits per Nearmap per project, which is the price you pay for 2 quotes. However, they also licence high resolution non-NearMap imagery which may be adequate.

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Which solar design software has the best integrations?

Solar Proof Open Solar Pylon Helioscope
Xero - send invoice - -
Xero - check for payment - - -
Plenti - - -
Brighte - - -
Energy Ease - - -
Solaris - - -

Xero integration

Solar Proof can integrate with Xero to send invoices, but Pylon is the only one that knows whether the invoice has been paid. 

To me, knowing this within the software is important in running your business. 

Financing Options 

You may want to give your customers different financing options. You can do this manually with your customer irrespective of the design software.

But Open Solar makes your life easier by including any of Plenti, Brighte or Energy Ease options in the proposal for your customer to choose from.

Which solar design software has the best CRM features?

Solar Proof Open Solar Pylon Helioscope
Customer management -
Embed lead generation - - -
API - - -
Webhooks - - -

The aim for all solar installation software is to be the end-to-end solution for solar installers. From when a new lead arrives, to getting paid, to finishing the installation. 

Solar Proof offers basic customer management. Address, contact info, but has a calendar showing bookings.

Open Solar takes it to the next level by offering a form that you can then embed on your website. A successful form submission sends all the information straight into Open Solar as a new customer. The only downside is that the look and feel of the form is not customisable.

Pylon doesn’t have an embed form, but allows your web developer to integrate it with API and Webhooks, which opens the doors for many more options.

Conclusion

Choosing a solar installation software for your business is difficult. There is no one size fits all. It depends on the stage of your business and your personal preferences.

But the good news is that you can always change. 

If accuracy or clear imagery is important, use Solar Proof.

If your installations are medium to large on a regular basis, use Helioscope.

If you don’t want to pay for anything at all, use Open Solar.

If you want a simple and easy experience, use Pylon.

What are you waiting for?

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