Creating a single-axis tracker PV layout

Frame, Placement, Park, Layout, Generation, Piling, Custom, Settings, Export, Align, Exclusion, Zone, Restriction, Area, Trackers, SAT

Angela Farias avatar
Written by Angela Farias
Updated over a week ago

Frame and park settings

To start with a single-axis tracker generation, it's necessary to proceed with the setup of the frames and the placement settings of tables. To do so - click on Frame & park settings and go through the three tabs in there.

Frame creation

  • Current preset - create, save, or delete your presets (presets apply to the current DWG and can be imported/exported to other DWGs)

  • Module parameters - define your main module parameters.

  • Frame parameters - define your frame parameters.

  • Custom piling - define your piling setup and pole distances for the frame.

🛈 To learn about dual-row tracker design, please click below.

If you would like to use the same preset in another project, just use the export/import settings button:

Placement setup

  • Framing type - select either fixed-tilt or single-axis trackers or east-west.

  • Preset library - this is where all the presets that have been created for this DWG can be selected for a generation. You can select multiple amounts of tables and select a color per preset.

  • Frame placement order - there is currently only one type of placement for single-axis trackers which means smaller tables will be placed further away from the alignment line.

Park settings

Park settings are split into three separate parts: Inter-row settings, Corridor settings, and Height settings.

In Inter-row settings, you can define distances between tables like the pitch & inner spacing (E-W spacing) or row spacing (N-S spacing).

One of the more important settings here is the Aligned rows toggle which changes the table placement output. You can hover over the checkbox to understand the difference:

Enabling or disabling this checkbox in the park settings will directly impact the table generation. Using aligned rows will allow you to have a more orderly layout when free space is plenty. However, if you don't have a lot of space and need to fill in more capacity, then not aligning the rows is a better idea.

We also have the function Align by motor - toggling this checkbox will ensure that the frames in a single row will be aligned by the motor line.

If you need a layout with an azimuth different from 0, you can define this by setting a value or drawing a line, the picture on the right will update.

In the Corridor settings, you can define spaces for access or maintenance roads, therefore, splitting up your tracker layout into separate groups. And it's also possible to control a second vertical gap when using corridors. This allows the creation of patterns to better position central inverters and roads. The first step is enabling the tracker corridor settings and changing the second vertical gap value to be equal to your row spacing.

Once you have the trackers placed like this, you can easily identify where you'll need to position your central inverters for uniform distances throughout your project.

To streamline this a step further, you can enable the drawing of corridor lines which can be later used to easily place the roads as well.

Height settings

In the Height settings section, you can set the table height for the entire generation. You can, later on, change table heights one by one by changing the reference height and using the Adapt to terrain feature to lower or raise a frame after it was generated.

Notice that the input field says Reference height and not the minimum clearance height - PVcase places frames based on a reference height, disregarding terrain collision. However, terrain collision can be analyzed as a further step using Civil analysis.

Like with the frame presets, you can export your Placement setup and Park settings and import them to a new design:

For more information about importing and exporting settings:

Layout generation settings

In the Layout and generation settings menu, it is possible to proceed with the following selections:

  • Select the Restriction zone layer (boundaries on this layer will be avoided by frames; Multiple layer selection is possible);

  • Select Distance units (millimeters/meters or inches/feet);

  • Select Slope units (Percent or degrees);

  • Toggle on & off Optimized frames (simplified frame representation for better performance - removes individual modules and poles from the frame view);

  • The Topographic layout option allows generating on a terrain survey, or on a flat surface when you don't have terrain data;

  • Using the Select button you can select or reselect the terrain data to be used.

  • Use the Active grading surface toggle to switch between your original topography and a graded topography (only available once Ground grading has been performed).

Defining generation and exclusion areas

Boundaries or PV areas are defined as a region drawn with a closed polyline. In order to create such a boundary - you can use AutoCAD's polyline function or any other drawing tool that will give you a closed boundary (i.e. rectangle)

Usually, this region or boundary is separate from the actual site boundary and is offset from it.

🛈 Be sure to always close the polyline by using the close command (enter C into the command line while still drawing the line) or attaching the polyline end vertex to the start point with the green object snap.

Boundary troubleshooting

The following error message appears when there are problems with the PV area region. Try checking the vertices to see whether you might have any polylines crossing over each other that create smaller areas or perhaps vertices on top of each other.

Defining exclusion zones (offset areas)

Exclusion zones - by default, the PVcase offset layer is regarded as the exclusion zone layer. You can change which layer should be regarded as the exclusion zone in Layout generation settings.

This means, that any closed areas on this layer will force the software to avoid placing frames in that area - you can draw it using the same approach as you would for a PV area (Closed polyline).


Once the parameters are all set, the generation can be done by selecting one out of two-generation types:

Generate single area - generate tables in a single area by selecting the area's polyline, terrain data (optional), and drawing the alignment line.

Alignment line - PVcase aligns tables towards a line that can be drawn on the boundary of the PV area, inside or outside. When drawing the polyline simply select as many points you need and hit ENTER or SPACE after you're done.

🛈 To learn more about drawing alignment lines, please click below.

Generate multiple areas - this generation should be used when multiple areas are next to each other and need to have rows aligned between them. To use this generation simply select the areas you want to generate and draw a shared alignment line for all of them.

Moving frames manually (shadow frames)

After generation, you can freely move tables around and copy them. However, sometimes they might turn red because they need to be adapted to the terrain or reassigned to an area. Until they are resolved, they will not be counted inside Layout information.

🛈 To learn more about how to work with shadow frames, please click below.

To align or not to align rows

In some circumstances, it is important to understand the differences between using and not using aligned rows and what changes in the layout this can introduce.

For example, using aligned rows might create a layout that has to be adjusted to fill more capacity by moving tables around by hand (see picture below). Rerunning the same generation without aligned rows will put tables closer to restriction areas, but the rows will not be aligned between each other:

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