New to SketchUp? 3 Tutorials that will kickstart your projects

SketchUp Tutorial for solar design

Are you thinking of getting started in computer modelling? Do you want to start shaping your ideas and communicating them in 3D? If so, follow these hands-on SketchUp tutorials to ramp up your 3D modelling skills. (Image: 150kW Solar Farm)

SketchUp has become one of the most widely used programs for modelling and rendering architectural, urban and construction projects. This design software is ideal because of its easy-to-learn interface and intuitive tools. Thus, new users can create simple models in the first few hours of learning. It’s not a direct replacement for advanced software like Autocad, however. Sketchup does excel in rapid model and 3D scene building.

Get modeling in no time with these self-paced, interactive SketchUp Tutorials

These self-paced tutorials are designed to get you started with SketchUp. Firstly, you can create basic 3D models. Secondly, you can share your design through SketchUp’s built-in communication tools. Lastly, save time by using pre-built models from a digital warehouse.

SketchUp Tutorial #1: Getting Started with SketchUp

#1: Getting Started with SketchUp

Learn the basics by following along with this video series of SketchUp for beginners. Each video is like a mini-project that will introduce new tools and essential techniques that you can apply straight away.

SketchUp Tutorial #2: Getting Started with LayOut

#2: Getting Started with SketchUp’s LayOut tool

This video covers the basics of bringing your models into LayOut. LayOut is a powerful tool that makes printing, presenting and documenting your SketchUp models fast and easy. For example, Layout will produce 2D drawings from your 3D models for presentation.

SketchUp Tutorial #3: Exploring 3D Warehouse library

#3: Exploring SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse, the world’s largest 3D model library

3D Warehouse is a community-based website of 3D models that you can download and incorporate into your designs. You can import a whole solar farm as shown above, for instance. It offers hundreds of thousands of ready-to-load product models, making it easier to create accurate designs. This tutorial is a quick start guide on how to use this fantastic resource.

Once you master the basics and start modelling more complex things, native tools can sometimes not exactly do what you need. But don’t worry — that’s what plugins and extensions are for. In short, members of the SketchUp user community developed these tools to enhance the native tools and making them more powerful. Most importantly, they are free and available for download in the SketchUp Extension Warehouse.

Most popular plugins for engineering, electrical and solar professionals

Plugin - The Engineer Toolbox

The Engineer Toolbox: A powerful tool that enables users to add standard and customized parametric components like flange beams, lumbers, piping and more to your SketchUp model.

Shadow Analysis is a simple tool for analyzing daylight conditions. The analysis presents different colours to denote the different amount of exposure to sunlight.

Medeek Electrical is a plugin that provides a simple interface for creating accurate 2D and 3D electrical geometry within SketchUp. 

Further learning: SketchUp tutorials for Solar PV Systems

Planning the layout of a large rooftop solar system can be a nightmare. For example, you need to know what obstructions will shade panels and which orientation is best. In addition, you need to plan for racking installation and maintenance access. SketchUp makes this easy by constructing a 3D scene and showing real shadows. The larger the system, the more complex the design; however, we recommend starting with the basics. Afterwards, our SketchUp for Solar PV Systems online course will soon make you a SketchUp solar Professional. This course provides step-by-step video instruction tutorials for drafting a commercial solar PV system in SketchUp.

SketchUp for Solar PV Systems one-day course

You will learn to:

  • Use NearmapGoogle maps and Sketchup’s inbuilt location function.
  • Use Sketchup tools to create a realistic view of existing buildings, including all features of the roof.
  • Correctly place PV modules on the roof.
  • Perform Shading analysis to optimise your system design.
  • Create AC and DC SLDs to include in your reports.
  • Create professional site plans and string layouts.
  • Use the flyover video tool to impress your clients.
  • Export your SketchUp data to use in AutoCAD and PVsyst.

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