Solar Proof Review - Feature rich and accurate

Get an indepth look into solar design software made just for Australian solar installers.

Updated:
June 17, 2022
Rating:
4.0
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Get an indepth look into solar design software made just for Australian solar installers.
Solar Proof

Lucian Wu

The following is a review as per the date above. There is no exchange of compensation and there are no affiliate links on this page. All opinions are my own.

Overview

Solar Proof is a cloud-based solar design software built in Australia for Australian solar installers. The subscription based software aims to provide an end-to-end solution from startup installers to established companies. 

Solar Proof does a decently good job of it. Anything that you would expect a solar design software to have, it does. But in addition to that, the package also includes a customer calendar booking system, electronic signing and email templates.

The best part of Solar Proof is that the solar estimations and calculations are some of the most accurate I’ve tested.

Solar Proof has a few bugs here and there and still feels rough around the edges. But if you do have any issues, you will be looked after and treated like a real customer. 

Pros:

  • Unlimited use of high resolution imagery
  • Calculations have very low error
  • Allows multiple choices of proposals

Cons:

  • Software has a few bugs
  • User interface feels outdated

Solar Proof demo initial thoughts

I had requested demos from the other popular solar design softwares. But out of all my requests, Chris Taeni, the founder, was the only one that called me to organise a time for a demo. 

During the 90 minute demo, he showed me about customer creation, solar design, proposals and integrations. He answered all my questions, and treated me like I was a real customer. It showed that he really cared about giving me the best experience possible as well as hearing my feedback for possible improvements. 

Did I mention the demo was also free? Not just for me, but also for you if you want to try it out.

90 minutes may seem like a long time, but it felt like we were skimming over many things. Anytime that we dived deep into a particular functionality, it opened up a ton more features. 

All the functionality you would expect from a solar design software is there and has been done very well. Everything was relatively easy and straightforward. 

It seems like Chris has put a lot of his effort and attention into making the product as functioning as possible, but not as much into the user interface. 

This makes it seem like Solar Proof is still very much like a startup or in its infancy stages.

Pricing structure is a mix-bag.

I like pricing structures that are simple to understand. 

Solar Proof’s pricing is done very well in some areas, but is more complex than necessary in others.

Free Demo - always a good thing

I love the fact that the demo is free. For everyone. 

This builds trust. This means that the company is confident in their ability to keep you even after you’ve tried their software. 

This also means if you’re just starting off in your solar installation journey, you’re able to quote 3-4 jobs a month for free, without paying for anything.

Pro Tier pricing is confusing

When your needs grow to needing about 1.2MW a month of quoting, you step into the Pro Tier.

From the screenshot, it looks like the only difference between the Mini and Pro Tier options are the monthly capacity and Commercial templates. 

But in fact, the Pro Tier can be further split into different options and pricing depending on your required monthly capacity limit. You can choose the selections by clicking on the dropdown box.

Right now, by default, it looks like no tiers offer Proposal Editing and API Access. Making this simpler to understand would be great for everyone involved.

Design is easy for long and simple roof types

Stepping into the design is where Solar Proof shines.

Designing a solar system on Solar Proof is the easiest and quickest when the roof is simple. In just a few clicks, you can get the panels aligned exactly how you want them to.

I also like that the entire system can only be 1 type of panel. There are other solar design software that allows for different types of panels on the one roof. I like this way of implementation because I’m not sure if that will ever be necessary for more than one type of panel per system.

In addition, I can confirm that changing panels automatically updates the roof layout to reflect panel sizes.

However, when the roof you’re designing on is smaller, has chimneys, or when panels need to be placed in different roof directions, that’s when the design process becomes more time consuming.

Solar Proof image resolution is one of the best.

Solar Proof is one of the few solar software that allows unlimited use of NearMap. Even on the demo tier, use of NearMap is free.

NearMap is a competitor to Google Maps. Whilst Google Maps is free, NearMap charges for its maps, but ensures that the images are much clearer.

NearMap achieves this by taking photos from a plane and publishes them at least once a year. Google Maps takes photos from a satellite, and could take 1-3 years to update.

This makes NearMap a much better solution because clearer imagery makes for easier and more accurate solar design.

Below is the image quality difference between Google Maps and NearMap of the same house. As you can see, the difference is night and day.

Solar Proof’s solar calculations are highly accurate

To some solar installers, accuracy of the estimation is one of the most important aspects of the software. 

They don’t want to over promise the customer, but still want to present a good return on investment.

So I put Solar Proof’s calculations to a test.

I have access to data of a residential 8kW solar system in Melbourne that was installed at the end of 2020. It has been tracking energy data every day.

The system consists of:

  • 27 x 370W LONGi LR4-60HPH-370M
  • 1 x Fronius Primo 8.2-1

I used Solar Proof to recreate the exact same system with the same components.

The left image is a photo of the existing system taken by NearMaps, and the right is my design to match the existing system. 

I then used Solar Proof to generate a quote, which shows its estimated daily energy generation.

I matched it against the actual generated data from the solar system from 01/01/2021 to 31/12/2021, 

Below is a table showing the Solar Proof estimation for solar vs the actual solar generation.

What this shows is that Solar Proof is extremely accurate. 

Solar Proof estimated generation vs actual generation

Solar Proof percentage error

Solar Proof actual error:

The error percentages seem high, but in comparison to other solar design software, I think this is extremely well done. 

This level of accuracy gives confidence to the solar installer that the system they are installing has a high likelihood of achieving the promised results.

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3 Proposal designs

I like the designs that are available for selection. The fact that we are given a choice between 3 designs, even on the Free tier, is great. Some of Solar Proof’s competitors only have a single proposal to choose from. 

Here are the 3 basic versions. 

The software also gives us the option of uploading our company logo, and contact details:

Having multiple choices in proposal design means:

  • Your proposal is less likely to look the same as a competitor.
  • You can measure and test to see which proposal works best for your customers. You’ll never know if you only send out one type of proposal.

Software Bugs

Bugs can be annoying for the user. This is especially true when you’re using software for the first time, because you don’t know if this particular experience you’re having is unintended, or because you just haven’t been able to figure it out.

I have to say that there were a few bugs that I came across.

For example, some steps allow you to go back, and some don’t.

It’s one thing to face a bug. But it’s an entirely different experience to identify a bug, report it, and not hear back from the development team. 

I discovered a bug, sent it to Chris, and within 2 minutes, he was onto it, and showed appreciation for the discovery.

Missing features

Here are some features that I hope will come in the future for Solar Proof.

Branding

Uploading our company logo onto the proposal is included. But what I would like to see is the ability to change fonts and styles. Your customer should have a consistent feel of your brand from the moment they start interacting with your website all the way to seeing your proposal.

It is jarring to them if your proposal has a completely different feel to your website. It will look inconsistent.

Multiple options inside the proposal

Quotes and proposals do best when the customer is offered multiple choices. Giving one choice is asking your customer to choose between you or your competitors.

Giving multiple choices is asking your customers to choose between A or B, both of which is a sale for you.

Instead of: Would you like to buy this pen?

It is: Would you like to buy the black pen or the red pen?

Integrations with accounting software

What I would like to see is for the proposal to be sent along with a payment link. Most small businesses use Xero (or a similar competitor). What makes Xero great is the ability to interface with your online banking account, send invoices and check to see if invoices have been paid. 

Seeing as Solar Proof wants to be the end to end software solution for solar installers, knowing whether you’ve been paid or not is an important part of running your business.

Lead Generation embedded onto a website

Most solar businesses need a website. If you don’t currently have a website, speak to us. Most websites will have a form that asks visitors to leave their contact details behind. 

To streamline your sales process, the best way is to integrate the submission of your website form into a customer profile inside your solar design software. 

This eliminates human error and reduces your time.

Conclusion

Solar Proof is a decently good solar design software made for Australian solar installers. There is a lot of functionality built into the cloud based software system at an affordable starting price of $80/month.

I feel like Solar Proof is ideal for people who are tech-savvy solar enthusiasts that want accurate projections. They want to feel like they are getting a lot of features and value for their money, while knowing that they will be looked after if there is a problem.

Solar Proof may not be right for you if you’re easily irritated with software bugs or an outdated user interface.

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