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How to define your layout

Curious about the layout configuration options offered by pvDesign? In this article you will learn how to influence the placement of structures in your PV plant.


As you may know, one of the key features of pvDesign is that it offers optimized layout solutions for your PV plant designs. Our layout algorithm poses an automated, iterative and extremely fast alternative to the traditional design process.

In this article, we will go over the guidelines that you, as a user, can give the software to achieve your goal layout. Let's uncover some of the magic behind the layout algorithm! 

Electrical tab

First, let's tackle the inputs of interest that appear in the Electrical tab. These are found under the sections Type of Layout and Electrical Configuration.

Type of Layout

This is a pvDesign-specific feature. With it, we can indicate the layout algorithm to prioritize either consistency or maximum installed capacity. Let me explain... 

In this section, you will choose the physical unit that pvDesign should consider to cover the available area. This "physical unit" consists of a certain number of structures arranged in a rectangular way. In other words, in this section, you are going to define the overall size of the block of structures used by pvDesign to create your layout.

We must select one of the following alternatives:

  • Regular Blocks - big blocks of structures will be installed.
    • In order to minimize the cable lengths, the shape of the block will be as square as possible.
    • All blocks will showcase the same electrical interconnection scheme, leading to a repetitive design electrically and civil-wise. 
    • Structures that are part of the same block are interconnected to the same power station. The number of structures in a regular block is determined by the number of inverters included in a power station. 
    • This option will lead to consistent design throughout your site as all blocks will be more or less equal. A regular block design is interesting if the available area is large and square. For irregular perimeters,  it may not maximize the installed capacity.

  • Adaptive Design - small blocks of structures will be installed.
    • The size of the block can be from 1x1 onwards. In other words, the block can consist of a single structure. 
    • A smaller block allows for a more fitted design. To adapt your design to the perimeter of your site as much as possible, go small. This will help maximize the installed capacity.

The actual size of the block will be chosen in the Electrical Configuration section. The pool of options is determined by the selected Type of Layout.

Electrical Configuration

The next input of interest is the exact number of rows and columns of structures that form each group.

To see the different block size options available for your design, simply click on Change.

This will open a list of 30 possible electrical configurations for your current PV plant design, consistent with the selected inputs beforehand. 

The parameter we would look at is 'Rows x columns/structure group'. This is the value that defines the unit that pvDesign uses to build the General Layout.

Bear in mind that your set of 30 options might change if you modify design parameters that relate to the electrical configuration. For example, the number of modules per string or the power factor.

Why can't I select the block size independently of the other electrical parameters?

The parameters shown in the list are dependant on each other. pvDesign, based on the information received, facilitates a list of 30 possible electrical configurations that make sense electrically. The priority given to each configuration (displayed in the first column) is assigned based on the goal DC/AC ratio and the preferred number of strings per string box/DC bus system selected by the user. 

Layout tab

You can preview the layout of your PV plant by going to the Layout tab at any point during the design process.

Imagine that we had selected the Adaptive Design option and our block size is 3 x 1.

For fixed structures, the block would look like:

For single-axis trackers, like this:

You can zoom in on your layout to verify that the layout is composed of 3 x 1 structure blocks. In the following image, some of these blocks are indicated with a red line.

Civil tab

For more options regarding structure placement and disposition, go to the Civil tab and check our article How to define the civil parameters of your site.

Future developments

At RatedPower, we aim to fulfill our client's needs. Some of our current developments are oriented to give an optimized layout for any kind of available area. Sneak peek! Shortly, our installation unit will be at string level instead of at structure level, allowing pvDesign to install different lengths of structures. Stay tuned to our social media platforms to be up to date on the new features!

For any other questions or for more information regarding the bifacial simulation, you can contact us at the following email: support@ratedpower.com