SmartCalc.CTM FAQ


  1. General Questions about SmartCalc.CTM
  2. Software Installation
  3. Material Data and Characterization
  4. Features and Models

General Questions about SmartCalc.CTM

What does SmartCalc.CTM do?

SmartCalc.CTM is a software tool to analyze the single effects contributing to the cell-to-module ratio of a module. By using elaborate scientific models SmartCalc.CTM is also capable of predicting the CTM of new module concepts, materials or module setups. SmartCalc.CTM is based on a set of simple measurements and precise input data is required for analysis.

Is a registration required to use SmartCalc.CTM and what does a license cost?

The software is licensed by Fraunhofer ISE. A registration and a valid software license are necessary to run SmartCalc.CTM. Please contact us for available packages.

Is a free test of the software possible?

Yes, a free demo version of SmartCalc.CTM can be downloaded and used for evaluation purposes. Use of the demo is restricted to the licensees own internal business (personal use). Commercial services for third parties using the demo version or results obtained with it are prohibited. The demo version is limited in functionality and not intended for permanent use. No support or assistance is given for the demo version of SmartCalc.CTM. Terms and Conditions apply.

Software Installation

I have problems with the installation of SmartCalc.CTM. Where can I get help?

Please see our [Installation User Manual](../pdf/SmartCalc.CTM_v1.1.4_Installlation.pdf) to guide you through the installation process. If you experience problems please refer to the questions in this FAQ. If you experience problems that are not listed, please contact our support via the contact page.

What are the minimal hardware requirements to run SmartCalc.CTM?

Operating System: 64-bit Microsoft Windows 7 or higher
Minimal screen resolution: 1024 x 768 px
Software environment: Please refer to the next question

Which MATLAB runtime version I should install for SmartCalc.CTM?

SmartCalc.CTM Versions | MATLAB RUNTIME version
v1.1.5 | v9.4
v1.1.4 | v9.4
v1.1.3 | v9.2
v1.1.2 | v9.2
v1.1.1 | v9.2

The new version of MATLAB runtime is available, should I go for the latest version?

Until an update of SmartCalc.CTM for the new MATLAB Runtime is available, it will not necessarily run with a new version. So please keep the runtime version that was valid at the first installation. Each version will only work properly with its corresponding MATLAB Runtime.

I have installed the newest MATLAB Runtime but SmartCalc.CTM is not working?

Please check MATLAB runtime version which goes with your SmartCalc.CTM version in question above.

How can I install SmartCalc.CTM without administrator rights?

If possible, please install the SmartCalc.CTM on a drive where you have administrator privileges (for example D: or E:), if the installation of applications in the C: drive require administrator rights. It is necessary to create/read/write files in the installation folder during operation of the software. If you have only one partition then please refer to question.6

I have only one partition C: drive, could I install it there?

Yes, you can install the SmartCalc.CTM in the C: drive but you need administrator rights in order to install and run SmartCalc.CTM in the C: drive. If you have restricted access due to company policy. then please refer to question.9

Do I need administrator rights in order to run SmartCalc.CTM?

Yes, it requires administrator rights to create some log, material and result files.

Every time I run SmartCalc.CTM, it gives the error "GUI_maincode.log. Cannot open file: permission denied"?

You need administrator rights, in order to run SmartCalc.CTM. Please right click to SmartCalc.CTM application and "run it as administrator". If you do not have administrator rights then please refer to Question.5.

I don't have administrator rights and also have only a single partition (C: drive). How can I install and run the software?

You can ask your IT department / system administrator to install the software, but in order to run the software you need administrator rights. Please ask your IT department to provide you with administrator rights for installation directory only (for example: C:\Program Files\SmartCalc.CTM v1.x)

I have tried everything but I was unable to run the software.

We are currently working on bypassing the administrator issues. In future versions the user only needs administrator rights for the installation of the software on a restricted drive. After that the user will be able to run the software without administrator rights.

Is it possible to run SmartCalc.CTM on a 32bit system?

No, SmartCalc.CTM only works on 64bit systems. There is currently no 32bit version available.

Do the calculations require internet connection, high performance computers, access to cloud computing systems or other special equipment?

No internet connection is required to run SmartCalc.CTM. No high performance computers are necessary to successfully run SmartCalc.CTM. Common desktop or laptop computers running Windows (64 bit) and the Matlab runtime (provided together with installation of SmartCalc.CTM) are sufficient.

Material Data and Characterization

Is data transferred to Fraunhofer ISE or third parties?

No transfer of data from or to Fraunhofer ISE or third parties and no access to cloud computing systems are necessary to perform calculations with SmartCalc.CTM. Neither Fraunhofer ISE nor any third party receives your module designs, material data, calculation results or any other data. No network access to a Fraunhofer ISE server is necessary. The software is “stand alone” and all data is stored locally.

Is it possible to enter own values and change module and material parameters?

Yes, most properties of materials and module setups can be edited within the graphical user interface and spectral data can be loaded from external files. There are only a few (technical) limitations regarding data input mostly to prevent errors.

Can we create or load material data files other than provided by Fraunhofer ISE?

Yes, you can load other materials, edit existing materials and save them as complete new material data files. Please contact your supplier for material data files to import into SmartCalc.CTM. If you are a material supplier or software developer you can contact us to learn about how to create a material data file for your customers or to create an interface to SmartCalc.CTM. There are some technical limitations in editing selected material information but most material and module parameters can be changed within the GUI. SmartCalc.CTM open data concept

Do I need Fraunhofer ISE to run calculations, create material data files or perform characterization measurements?

No. All calculations can be performed without input of Fraunhofer ISE. Module setups, material files or necessary characterization measurements can be performed without Fraunhofer ISE.

Does Fraunhofer ISE provide material files to import into SmartCalc.CTM?

Most commonly used materials in PV modules have already been characterized by Fraunhofer ISE. Due to legal reasons we are unable to provide this data without permission of the material supplier to the software user. Please contact your supplier for permission, material data files, the data necessary to create material files or samples of the material.

Material suppliers may contact us for a detailed guide on how to create material data files.

Material samples provided by a SmartCalc.CTM-user can be characterized at Fraunhofer ISE. Please ask for a service offer.

The software is shipped with a basic package of reference material data files. Other files can be easily integrated.

Are special measurements required to perform a CTM-analysis with SmartCalc.CTM and can the measurements be only performed at Fraunhofer ISE?

A complete and precise analysis requires data input for module materials and their interactions. This data can be obtained from the material supplier, literature, own measurements or any other laboratory. The methodology and the single gain and loss factor calculations have been published by Fraunhofer ISE and measurements can be performed accordingly. If data is already available or previous experiences in CTM-analysis allow the estimation of input parameters no additional measurements are necessary. Depending on the availability of data from other sources and the desired degree of accuracy measurements may be advised to guaranty reliable results.

Fraunhofer ISE is not necessary to perform the CTM-analysis or the recommended measurements. Measurement results from other sources can be used.

Is documentation provided together with the software?

Yes, we provide a user manual and scientific publications explaining the methodology and single loss factors in detail.

Features and Models

What kind of materials can be used for calculation and what kind of modules can be calculated?

The flexibility of the scientific models behind SmartCalc.CTM allow the calculation of conventional glass-foil laminates, double-glass modules as well as new concepts such as shingled modules or TPedge (glass-air-glass).

Front cover: All kind of module front cover materials are possible, as the input data is the spectrally resolved transmission and reflection as well as the thickness. Especially glass (with and without anti-reflection coating), transparent foils or polymer sheets are possible.

Encapsulant: All kind of module encapsulants are possible, as the input data is the spectrally resolved transmission and reflection as well as the thickness. Especially polymer foils (EVA, PVB, TPO etc.), silicone or even air are possible.

Cell: All kinds of solar cells are possible, as the input data are selected electrical parameters, the spectral response, reflectance and geometrical information regarding contact terminals. Possible are (examples): solar cells with 5” or 6” wafer size (full square and pseudo square, full cells and half cells), busbars and contact pads, back-contact (MWT, IBC etc.) or front-back solar cells or cells for shingle interconnection.

Rear cover: All kind of module rear cover materials are possible, as the input data is the spectrally resolved transmission and reflection as well as the thickness. I.e. white, black or transparent backsheets or glass is possible.

Interconnection: Several interconnection technologies are possible. Input parameters include geometrical information of interconnectors and electrical terminals and material data allowing i.e. ribbon based interconnection with rectangular ribbons or round wires, light harvesting ribbons, soldering or electrical conductive adhesives as well as shingling or - depending on the complexity of the electrical design – electrical conductive backsheets.

Will the software be updated and will there be new features available?

Yes, we will continue developing new scientific models and are adding additional program features. Even more module, cell and interconnector concepts will be possible in later versions. We aim to replace measurements with calculations or simulations. Also precision and usability will be continuously improved. Our goal is to achieve maximum flexibility and accuracy for module concepts, data availability and desired level of details of the CTM-analysis.

Please check the news sections and publications for new features.

Reported bugs and errors will be fixed as soon as possible and will not need a new license.

How are the single gain and loss factors calculated?

The calculation is performed using published and validated scientific models. Please see the documentation of SmartCalc.CTM or the scientific publications.

While some models are simple and require only a few input variables other k-factors are calculated using highly complex algorithms. Additionally the flexibility of the models regarding different cell, module and interconnection concepts leads to increased complexity of some calculations. A detailed presentation of every calculation step for some k-factors can therefore not be provided.

How do I measure the single gain and loss factors?

The measurement of the CTM-ratio itself is a simple process: measure all the cells and compare the cell power/efficiency with the power/efficiency of the module. SmartCalc.CTM analyzes the single influence factors which is more complex.

While some factors are easy to measure or to calculate (i.e. inactive module margin area) other factors can only be measured together and are then attributed to single factors by the model. Please see the documentation for more details.