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Defining Boundaries & Using the Free Draw Tool
Defining Boundaries & Using the Free Draw Tool

How to use the define installation area boundaries and use the Free Draw tool

Shawn Kranitz avatar
Written by Shawn Kranitz
Updated over a week ago

Once we've gotten our project started, we may find that we want to use the "Define Roof Face" or "Define Ground Area" options, rather than the Aerial Trace Tool.

Note: Defining an installation area in this manner is a less detailed alternative to the Aerial Trace tool or importing an XML model. As a result, some pages of the permit package, such as the Site Plan sheet, will be left blank. If you intend to generate a complete, permit-ready package, we recommend you import an XML model from a third-party vendor such as

To begin, we'll click on the Define Roof Face option.

Define a Roof Face

If the project has a slope, select what the slope of the roof face is, and enter the azimuth as well. If it's a flat roof, just select "flat." It's helpful to give our roof a descriptive name, too.

At this point, we can either select "Save Roof and Finish" in order to use a dimensionless roof face, or select "Define Roof Boundaries" in order to define the area of our installation.

From here, select an appropriate shape for the roof face, and then enter the dimensions of the installation area. 

Below is an example of what entering the dimensions of a Rectangle looks like. 

Free Draw

For the free draw option, we don't select the dimensions of the array area, but rather the dimensions of the canvas that we are going to draw our roof face on. 

Note: It's important to make sure that the canvas we sketch on is larger than the installation area we'll be working with, otherwise we won't be able to fit our array on the canvas!

To get to the drawing portion, we'll hit "Continue." We'll then be presented with our canvas.

As the note at the bottom of the page informs us, we don't have to worry too much about the dimensions of our array area quite yet. Let's just sketch out a rough outline. 

As an example, let's assume that our roof is 65ft on the ridge, with 25ft rakes and an eave that is broken up by a dormer, similar to the image below. 

Above is an image mid-trace in Sketch mode.

Once we close the shape, we'll want to set it to "Refine." This is where we'll be able to put the final touches on our roof, in order to get the exact dimensions we need.

We can move these roof edges and points by clicking and dragging them, or by using the Nudging tool in the top left corner. 

In this case, we'll highlight the left-most edge of the roof and set the Nudging tool to 7.5in in order to fit the ridge to 65ft.

We'll use a similar method to adjust the Rakes to 25ft as well. 

Next Steps

The principles outlined above should allow us to create nearly any typical roof shape in SolarDesignTool. Next, we'll take them into the System Builder to place our PV equipment in the installation area(s) we've defined.

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