Why isn’t Sunulator a web-based system like the ATA’s Tankulator?
– Sunulator is more complex than Tankulator. In future we would like to turn it into a web-based tool.
Can I run Sunulator in OpenOffice or other spreadsheets?
– Unfortunately not. We understand that many people prefer to use non-Microsoft products. However to meet Sunulator’s requirements for performance and functionality, we had to use Excel-specific features.
When I try to open the Sunulator file, I get “Microsoft Office Excel Security Notice” saying “Macros have been disabled”. Why is that?
– Click the button “Enable Macros”. To avoid this message in future, you can trust Sunulator’s folder in Excel’s “Trust Centre”.
When I click any button, I get a message saying macros are disabled. What’s going on?
– You need to set Excel to allow macros, and/or to trust Sunulator’s folder in Excel’s “Trust Centre”.
Excel won’t let me change the settings so that macros are allowed. What should I do?
– You may be using a computer that’s managed by someone else as the administrator. Please contact them to give you administration rights on your computer.
Why is the Excel file so big, and why does Sunulator take so long to run?
– Unlike most other solar calculators, Sunulator uses a simulation approach. Climate data is stored for a whole year in half-hourly intervals, and your consumption and tariffs are analysed the same way. Your computer hardware makes a difference – in general recent computers are much faster than older ones.
Does Sunulator work on non-English versions of Excel?
– Yes. If Sunulator does not run on your non-English software, please let us know.
Does Sunulator work on Apple computers?
– Mostly. Sunulator works on Apple computers as long as they are running a full version of Microsoft Excel 2011 or later. Excel must also have been updated, to version 14.6.1 or later. However, Microsoft didn’t give Pivot Charts to its Apple version of Excel, so some charts will not work. Also, Sunulator will not recognise supplementary files for regional locations due its different file system.
WHAT CAN I USE THE SUNULATOR FOR?
Is Sunulator suitable for analysing a household grid-connect solar system?
– Yes! Many householders will find Sunulator difficult to understand and use, but if you have the knowledge and time, Sunulator will do a great job.
Do I still need to get a detailed solar system design done?
– Yes! Any solar system needs to be designed to meet Australian standards, and to accommodate physical and electrical constraints. Eg strength of the roof, maximum voltage of the inverter etc.
Does Sunulator allow for site-specific conditions, e.g shading from trees?
– No. It is up to the user to be aware of such issues and apply conservative input values to allow for them. Future versions may support user-entry for shading at specific times of day and months of the year.
Why does Sunulator focus so much on economics, when environmental benefits are more important?
– Most people and organisations considering solar want to help the environment, but also have some economic criteria. The environmental benefits of a solar system are relatively simple to calculate, compared to the economics. Sunulator estimates the annual carbon dioxide avoided compared to Australian average grid electricity and presents this as a “number of cars off the road” equivalent.
Does Sunulator support batteries in a grid-connected system?
Can Sunulator simulate oversized arrays, where the inverter clips output at sunny times?
– No. This is on the list for future enhancement.
Can I use Sunulator for an off-grid system?
– No. The solar generation results may be informative, but Sunulator doesn’t answer important questions for offgrid systems such as battery and solar sizing to get you through several cloudy days.
ENTERING DATA INTO SUNULATOR
Where on my electricity bill can I find the numbers to input to Sunulator?
– Unfortunately it’s not that simple. Please refer to the user guide. If your require further assistance to use Sunulator, please contact the ATA.
I can enter daily and monthly profiles, but that’s not sufficently representative of my consumption pattern. What should I do?
– You may create a customised year-long consumption profile in a spreadsheet, and use the “copy and paste” function to import it to Sunulator.
What’s an appropriate value for the discount rate?
– This depends on individual circumstances. Many people choose a value related to their source of funding, or the return expected from alternative uses of their money. For more information, please see other sources e.g http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discounted_cash_flow.
Where did you get your climate data from?
– ATA purchased satellite-based hourly insolation data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, from the 1990’s up to the end of 2013. Months with too much missing data were excluded. We filled gaps in the remaining data and interpolated to half-hourly values. We then prepared Typical Meteorological Year data, splicing representative months from the data set into a single composite year.
Why does Sunulator give different results from other solar calculators?
– There are several possible reasons, such as the climate data source or timeline, assumptions on solar system efficiency and economic projections. Sunulator provides several options for the user to apply different asumptions if desired.
What testing have you done to ensure that Sunulator is accurate?
– To validate Sunulator’s results, we sourced user-reported generation 2013 data from PvOutput.org for dozens of systems. Excluding those that appeared to be influenced by site-specific conditions or missing data, Sunulator’s simulation matched very well! We also validated against other solar calculators.
How can I copy results from Sunulator into another spreadsheet?
– In sheet “Stats”, just select the cells, copy them and paste into the other spreadsheet.
Can I get the detailed simulation results, e.g export vs. import by half-hour interval?
– Sunulator calculates in half-hour intervals, but does not report results at this level. Please contact the ATA to discuss your requirements.