Common questions and issues - Layout

faq, trouble shooting, common, brown, reference height, front view, cross section, faulty, several orientations, pvsyst

Silja Stirnimann avatar
Written by Silja Stirnimann
Updated over a week ago

This article is a collection of questions/issues that especially new users come up with frequently. In order to use PVcase effectively, it is crucial to understand the underlying concepts provided in the answers.

Top 3 troubleshooting tips

If something doesn't work... here 3 very generic first aid trouble shooting tips:

  • Are all elements on the correct layer?*

  • Is the correct PV area selected?

  • Use Reassign frames or Adapt to positions to make sure the frames are correctly associated with the Pvcase PV area you want to work with (do not use Adapt to positions in this case if you have used Set slope or are on PVcase Proposed terrain after using the Ground grading tool)

    * Important note: PVcase algorithms are based on PVcase layers. It's best practice to leave these layers alone - don't move any objects manually to PVcase layers (exceptions: PVcase Offset and PV area layer), from a PVcase layer to another one, don't change layer names etc. Should you change something back to its original PVcase layer (because you had mistakenly changed it), you might need to reopen your drawing for everything to work properly.

Is there a library for tracker and table presets? Can I reuse my own frame presets in other projects?

There is no library with predefined presets. However, once you have created your own presets, you can export the settings to other projects, save them locally, send them to colleagues etc.
Export them here:

This will not only export your frame presets, but also the configuration for Capacity iteration, Civil analysis, Custom Color, Electrical design colors, Electrical design devices, Electrical design strings, Grading, Layout generation settings, Park settings, Shading analysis, Shading objects, Terrain mesh.
Should you not want to export all of these settings, you can specify the desired ones here:

In your new design, you have two options to import these settings.

  • Either use "Import settings" to overwrite/replace all your current frame presets and other settings:

  • or use "Append presets from settings file" to add the exported presets without overwriting the current ones (the ones you have already created in your new file):

    More details HERE, Video HERE

    My frame presets have gone lost, how can I retrieve them?

    If you still have frames of the same type in your drawing, you can retrieve the with this button:

    Also, to prevent losing any presets, it might be a good option to export and save them somewhere.

    What does the alignment line define?

    The alignment line defines where the layout generation starts. Typically, for Fixed tilt designs, the alignment line is rather vertical, and for trackers and East-West systems horizontal.

    Examples Fixed Tilt:

    Alignment line on the left side; frames are "glued" to left side of the defined PVarea, on the right side, there are some empty spaces.

    Alignment line right - opposite from above.

    Alignment line in the middle - tables are generated from the middle, there are free spaces both on the right and left area borders.

    Alignment line left, Descending from alignment side selected in Placement Setup - Big tables on the left, filling up the areas with smaller tables on the right.

    It also makes a difference whether the alignment line is drawns top to bottom ( or bottom to top:

    Alignment line bottom to top - frames "glued" to bottom area border, some free space on the top, and vice versa.

    Examples for trackers (alignment line above, below, in the middle):

    In the case of trackers, the bigger frames will always be placed close to the alignment line.

    Observation: Aligned rows in Park settings will overrule the alignment line

    More info about alignme lines HERE

    What do red frames indicate/What does the warning "Faulty frames" mean

    If frames have lost or simply don't have a reference to the terrain and/or the PVcase area, their color changes to red. This is the case if Convert to PVcase is used, frames are moved manually etc. These frames will automatically be placed on a different layer (PVcase Shadow Block) and will not be included in layout information, and other PVcase actions will not work on them either

    Also, when you open the drawing, this warning message will be displayed:

    Most of the time, it's enough to use Adapt to positions or Reassign frames to (re-)establish their reference to the terrain and/or PVarea
    More details

    In the case of dual row and terrain following trackers, red/orange frames might also be an indication of angle limitations that are not respected (depending on the settings):

    In this case, dark red stands for east-west slope between the two trackers of more than 4%.

In this case, some tracker segments are in orange because the angle delta between them exceeds the set limit of 3%

For the above examples for dual row and terrain following trackers:

  • This is purely indicative; PVcase does not provide a correction at the moment of writing (however, this is bound to change soon).

  • The warning color is given at the moment of generation. It will stay even if the settings are changed to more permissive values a posteriori.

  • orange/red trackers will be placed on layer Indicative frames, their capacity will still be accounted for and PVcase actions (i.e. stringing) are possible on them

    Brown frames / warning Tables too close

    When using the Aligned rows option in the Park Setting menu for fixed tilt systems, you might see a warning and some brown frames:

    This happens because PVcase needs to reduce the distance between frames below the predefined column space distance in order to reach aligned rows.

    In the following example, we can see that some of the distances are below the predefined 0.35 meters, hence the frames highlighted in brown:

    By using Adapt to positions, they will turn blue again. However, the inter column spacing will not be changed, meaning it is up to the user to evaluate if the reduced value (measurable with AutoCAD measuring/dimensioning tools) is tolerable.
    If you use Adapt to setting instead, intercolumn spacing will be adjusted.

    Height settings/reference height: Lowest point is not respected

    The lowest point set in Park settings, is not taken as a hard limit for table placement. It is merely a reference height that is applied to the extreme sides of the tables:

    However, if somewhere in between there is a hill/bump, the distance terrain - lower table edge will be lower than what was set in Reference height:

    The same principle applies for trackers, just that in this case, the reference height is not given by the lowest point but by the frame reveal:

    This is why it would be recommendable to set your reference higher than your project specific minimum lower point or minimum frame reveal.
    In order to detect tables that are too low in some places, you can use our Collision analysis tool in the Civil analysis menu

    Circular/closed road

    The PVcase Draw road command does not work on closed polylines, circles etc. In order to create a circular road, it is necessary to either draw the polygon with at least two polylines or to break an existing polygon at least in one place; the latter can be done with Break at Point:

    PVcase road doesn't follow the terrain

    PVcase roads are not designed to follow the terrain. Typically it just stays on 0 elevation along with the PVarea polyline, offsets, electrical strings etc.:

    If, for visualization reasons, you would like the road to be at a more realistic height, you could evaluate one of these options:
    Manually change the road elevation to a realistic average value:

  • However, the road will be totally flat, not following any ups and downs of the terrain

  • Use a flat fence to imitate a terrain following road:

    How to change road width (and other settings)

    The first time you draw a road in your design, you will be asked to input road with, radius (applied to curves) and offset. These settings will automatically be used for further roads in the same design.

    Should you want to use different settings for other roads, after clicking on the Draw road button, click on ROAD SETTINGS in the AutoCAD command line:

    A settings window will pop up:

    Once the road is created, you cannot change its dimensions, you would have to delete it and create it again with updated settings.

    How to change and check the dimensions of Shading objects

    The dimensions of a shading object cannot be changed a posteriori (regenerating them would be necessary).

    Which settings have been used for object creation can often be deduced from the name in the Properties:

  • How do minimum and maximum inner spacing or pitch settings affect shade-free table placement?

    For Fixed tilt systems, there is an option for shade free table placement in the Parksettings. For the selected time or angle, PVcase will place the tables in a way that there is no shading from one table to another, meaning that (in the Southern hemisphere) tables on South slopes will automatically be placed closer together than tables on North slopes. The spacing depends progressively on the orientation and steepness of the slope.

    In the following an extreme example: (North left, South right):

    If the minimum inner spacing is set to a very low value (i.e. 0 m) and the maximum very high (i.e. 30m), the layout will just be generated to avoid any shading at the same time.

    This can be visualized by using the shading analysis tool set to the same location and time/sun position angle:

    We can see here that the tables are placed in a way, that the red shading line doesn't overlap any frames, no matter what distance between the row is needed for that result.

However, maybe you would like to assure a minimum interrow spacing of 2m for maintanance reasons, even if that is not necessary to avoid shading on so South slopes. And, on the other hand, you might want the pitch to maximum 10 m, even if that means there will be some shading on North slopes (table overlap in mangenta color):

By the way, the pitch measures can be displayed using Row and pitch display:

If we now generate the layout again and do the shading analysis, it can be observed that there is some shading on adjacent tables because of the set 10m limit:

I changed the number of poles, but it is not updating

Whenever you change something in the configuration windows, PVcase will not automatically update anything in the drawing. This is an essential concept to be understood when working with PVcase.
In the case of poles, it also does not help to hit "Show piling" again, since the table configuration in the drawing has not changed yet. There are several ways to update changed piling:

  • Change the piling in your presets and regenerate the layout from scratch (Generate single/multiple area)

  • Use the right-click action Change piling on one or several frames:

  • Change the piling in your preset, select the frames in question (i.e. with Select similar), and then use the right-click action Swap preset (even if your new preset has the same name as the old one)

    Can I use my own 3D objects for shading analysis?

    You cannot use your own AutoCAD 3D objects for the PVcase or PVsyst shading analysis. Only the PVcase shading objects will work properly for shading analysis and export to PVcase. However, being creative, you might be able to adapt PVcase shading objects to your own needs, i.e. you might want to simulate a CCTV camera with a tree with a small crown, a building with one or several Station blocks etc.

    Adapt doesn't work on trees/shading objects

    The function "Adapt" only works on PVcase frames, not on shading objects. Shading objects are automatically placed on the terrain, no further action is required. However, if you import terrain after the creation of shading objects or if you import new terrain data (i.e. if you had used terrain from Google Earth for a preliminary phase and now you have more accurate data), just move the shading objects minimum 1mm (use AutoCAD MOVE function), PVcase will adapt them automatically to the new terrain.

    How can I check what preset and park settings have been used at the moment of generation?

    Sometimes the settings in the frame and park settings have been modified after park generation. However, we would like to know what configuration was applied to our drawing (motor gap, reference height, module dimensions, turning angle, azimuth, column spacing etc.)
    This can be checked for every frame with Frame information in the Layout information window:

  • The resulting information might pop up on a different screen and contains all of this info:

    PVsyst - error message "Several orientations"

    When importing a terrain based Fixed tilt design to PVsyst, this is a very common error message:

    Do NOT click on Update Orientation Parameters, instead, follow these

    Frames in front view/cross section not visible

    Sometimes only the terrain, not the frames can be seen in front views and cross sections.

  • After clicking on Cross section, make sure you choose the option "Frames and terrain":

  • Make sure the tables are adapted to the terrain (just try using the Adapt to position button (do not use that if you have already used Set slope or are on Proposed terrain after using the Grading tool)

  • Make sure to choose the correct PVarea(s) when creating the views

  • Make sure layer "PVcase Cross Section" is not frozen or turned off

    A quick alternative to searching for frozen/turned off layers in the layer list or manager whenever there is an element you cannot see, would be to just quickly turn on and thaw/unfreeze all layers clicking on these two buttons:

  • No Front views and Cross sections are created

    You clicked on Front view or cross section, selected the area, defined the cut and placement location, however, no section is displayed?

    Probably you are working on a layout that is not terrain based; PVcase creates these views only for terrain based designs.

    You can see that your design is not terrain based either in the layout generation settings and/or when you see that there is a button "Reassign frames" instead of "Adapt":

    Solution: Add terrain to your drawing (either from your own sources or using the PVcase Import terrain function.) After having done so, don't forget to use Adapt on your frames/area.

    If for some reason you want your front views/cross sections on completely flat terrain you can create a false topography with elevation zero everywhere:

    How to flatten a design/create zero elevation topography

    If for some reason you need your frames to be placed on flat terrain, follow these steps:

  • Create a new layer (i.e. called “False topo”).

  • In this layer, insert at least 4 text elements containing “0.0”. Those numbers have to be placed at the extremes of the design (or all around), so the topography covers the whole design.

  • Proceed to select the topography by clicking: Layout generation settings > Topography > Select and clicking on one of the text elements we have just inserted. PVcase will recognize those text numbers as topographical information.

  • If you have already generated modules, you will be able to bring them down to the flat design by using the tool Adapt.

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