Start your utility-sale solar project layout by entering the project’s location using a map or a .kml or .kmz file. PVCAD Mega loads both the satellite imagery and any line work that’s been drawn inside of Google, allowing the easy addition of setbacks. You can also use AutoCAD tools to draw additional lines to mark wetlands, roads, buildings and other areas where no solar can be installed to add layout obstructions and associated setbacks. If an obstruction has an associated height shading setbacks are also easy to add.


Select your Equipment

PVCAD Mega manufacturing partners NEXTracker and Array Technologies are integrated into the PVCAD Mega software platform, allowing the simple addition of your tracker equipment of choice for your utility-scale project layout with pre-programmed tracker geometry. Options for the addition of user-defined trackers or fixed-tilt racking are also available. Equipment selection also allows choice of module from the integrated database and specification of modules-per-string. Based on tracker/racking manufacturer and module choices, PVCAD Mega will recommend the optimal equipment model. 


PVCAD Mega has an extensive collection of manufacturers and products in the module database. If you cannot find a module in the database, see the Troubleshooting section at the end of this guide for instructions on adding a module via your personal database or PVComplete’s public database.



When specifying a user-defined tracker manufacturer, PVCAD Mega walks you through all the essential value inputs, including row quantity, row length, quantity of piers, number of modules vertically and horizontally, stickouts, motor gaps, pier gaps, row gaps and column gaps. In the installation area setup, specify tilt angle, row spacing and GCR or column spacing.


Single Axis Tracker Layouts

Create single axis tracker layouts with all essential inputs and considerations. Easily add access roads between standard blocks, reserve space for equipment pads. Automatically generate a layout of user-defined standard blocks, and fine tune manually to remove blocks you don’t want. Once you are satisfied with your standard block layout, you can overlay the actual tracker layout. This approach allows a layout for a 100 MW site to be generated in minutes, including both full and partial (if you allow) tracker rows as appropriate given setbacks and obstructions defined previously. You can manually add and remove trackers from the layout as desired.


For those who prefer more precision and granular control, it is also possible to click and drag trackers into position, rather than using standard blocks. Angled layouts are also easy to execute. If you’re using NEXTracker, PVCAD Mega includes the entire NEXTracker block library to populate blocks, pier locations and regular vs. heavy piers, which is useful for estimating budget costs.


Fixed Tilt Layouts


Begin your fixed tilt layout by defining the number of rows and columns, tilt angle and standard table size. Then click and drag to populate the layout, specifying either a square site or an angled site or using the auto “fill” function.


Import Topography 

PVCAD Mega enables advanced topography analysis in less time, including custom topo data. Choose to design a flat site, auto-import topography from Google if you do not have a site survey, or inform the layout with the topography included as a layer in AutoCAD. Using the auto functionality, the layout is populated with topo points, each of which can be selected to see the x,y and z coordinate in three dimensional space. Clearly see the topography using the isometric view. Using the layer functionality, import the topography from a layer in your drawing as contour lines. 


PVCAD Mega then enables pier analysis. Where legacy utility scale project design relied upon slope analysis based on aerial site views and computations of an average grade, PVCAD Mega now makes pier analysis at scale possible for the first time, replacing average grade with unique post heights for every pier on a project site.


Wind Exposure, Pier Analysis, and Schedules

PVCAD Mega will run through every tracker in the layout and define it based on its wind exposure — i.e. interior vs. exterior, northern or southern exposure, etc. — and populates the tracker properties with this information.


Next comes pier analysis. Click the pier analysis button, and PVCAD Mega will ask you to define the tallest pier height you wish to use for the project, the shortest pier height you can allow, as well as the maximum angle the tracker can tolerate. The software’s algorithm will then go through the layout, pier-by-pier, and adjust pier heights to keep all trackers less than the specified maximum angle. If there is no possible solution, those trackers will be flagged in red. Trackers that can be built within the specified tolerance are flagged in blue.


It is possible to run comparative pier analyses using different tolerances to see what specifications allow the maximum number of trackers on the project site’s uneven terrain. 


You can then export all of the pier-by-pier information as a .csv-format pier schedule file that includes every tracker in the layout, its x and y coordinate, geo-coordinates of latitude and longitude as well as the coordinates of all piers, the height of the surface of the earth under that pier, pier height and the angle of the table.