EME 810
Solar Resource Assessment and Economics

1.8 Introduction to SAM


Try This! Download SAM

This activity requires you to download NREL's System Advisor Model (SAM) for use in the next lesson. I want you to take the time to download and even try launching SAM. If, for some reason, the software goes "bonk," let's sort it out now rather than during a graded activity, okay?


  1. Create a User Account and choose Photovoltaic as the Technology Focus at the bottom of the page.
  2. Follow the Download Installation Instructions.

    NOTE: SAM is an Open Source project! The version of System Advisor Model as of the update of this page is SAM 2017.9.05 (and there will likely be newer versions each semester). It requires about 890 MB of disk space, and either Windows 10/8/7 or OS X 10.9 Intel or later. SAM is a 32-bit program that will run on both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems. If you do not have one of these operating systems, you can browse their list of Legacy Versions as an alternative.

    Find the open source code on GitHub if you want to dig in.
  3. Install and launch SAM on your computer. The very first time, you will need to enter your email and click the "Register" button. SAM will send you a code to use in the next entry for "Key". Paste it in and get rolling!
  4. Try to "Start a New Project" with Photovoltaic (detailed) or Solar water heating for a Residential (distributed) scenario. The defaults are pretty reasonable in SAM. If you've never tried something like SAM, don't worry. This is really just an exploration step, and you can't really break anything by opening a new project and running it. So, just explore a little and have some fun.
  5. If you successfully create a new project (I'll name an example "Simpsons_Solar_Springfield"), hit the big blue box in the lower left labeled SIMULATE >. The program will run a year's solar data and will output a heap of results. The output in the lower left field is the summary stats for the project, usually estimating 25 years of a solar project.


See the course calendar for specific due dates.