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Skelion: A solar energy design plugin for SketchUp

Skelion was designed to make working in SketchUp quite a bit easier for solar professionals. It features the ability to automatically insert solar panels on SketchUp surfaces. Because the developers are solar professionals themselves, I have a feeling others in the industry will find this plugin quite useful. I had a chance to ask one of Skelion’s developers some questions:

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well, I am Sam Jankis, industrial engineer and co-developer of Skelion, although my partner is the real code developer of the plugin: Juan Pons is a Spanish engineer and programmer. Skelion was born in July 2011 after two years of development. It is a plugin for Google SketchUp that allows you to, among other things, insert solar panels on surfaces automatically.

Why did you build Skelion?

Skelion was developed to automate the design of solar systems using Google SketchUp. The goal was to do all the design work we were doing, but automatically. Now we can do with four clicks what we were doing in four hours. Skelion reduced considerably our average time expended on doing layouts and energy production reports of solar systems, and allowed us to multiply by four the preliminary studies we could do.

How does it work?

Basically, you select a surface where you want to insert solar panels and click on the solar cell logo. A menu appears that asks you about tilt and orientation for the panels, the type of panel, and a shading range for a given day. Photovoltaic panels can be selected from our database or you can create your own, and they can be placed in portrait or landscape orientation. After that, the plugin automatically inserts the solar panels on your selected surface. It also works with irregular surfaces. For more information, take a look at our video tutorials.

What are your goals for the plugin?

The goal for Skelion is to become a standard design tool in the solar industry. We believe that as soon as solar designers get familiar with the plugin they are going to love it—as we do.

How can SketchUp modelers try Skelion?

They can download the plugin from our download page. The Free version includes the most powerful feature: the automatic insertion of solar panels. With the Pro version, you get some interesting and useful features such as energy reports.

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Louise said...

The soaring price of oil has become a big burden to us and this mean that when the oil prices are up so as our daily needs. Therefore, we must save all the money that we can. In order to that we need to consider cheaper electricity or even free. Solar panels are only one way to overcome this situation.

solar panels pennsylvania

Rebecca said...

I would completely agree with you louise, we really need to look at future oil prices and how we can subsidise this future expense through cost cutting in other bills. Like you i would say cheap energy could save house owners lots of money.

solar panels gloucestershire

Андрей said...

прекрасно но вот общедоступность. даных проектов сводится к нулю. затраты на установку и обслуживание заставляют задуматся многих так ли бесплатно достается, при условие что многие живут поколения в кредит и им лучше оддовать понемногу но 3 раза больше и дольше, чем меньше и сейчас. Я уже молчу про забытую богом Россию в частности Сибирь.

Jim said...

So when I unpack the file the the script files have file extension rbs not rbz
consequently the files are not recognized as Ruby scripts by Sketchup. When I change the
file extension to rbz sketchup recognizes the file but is unable to install it referring
me to the installation instructions which are

Download SKELION plugin "skelion.rbz" from the Download Button and save it
In Sketchup 8 M2 (last version): Go to Window - Preferences - Extensions - Install Extension
Select "skelion.rbz" and accept to install it.
Accept license and restart SketchUp
Activate SKELION toolbar [View/Toolbars/Skelion]

So can anyone help me with the installation?

Joshua Kelley said...

I must admit we have been doing things the old fashioned way and taking a photograph of the clients home and then hand sketching how the solar panels port charlotte will look on their home. This looks like a really interesting plugin for SketchUp, and we are definitely going to look in to how we can implement this. The time savings you mention from 4 hours to just minutes is very compelling, and also the professional presentation looks good too!

ttjerk said...

What a pity that these examples look so ugly. With a little more effort it could look much nicer. There are hundreds of nice examples of BIPV (building integration) available.

Juan said...

Sorry Jim, you downloaded an older version called "". If you clear the cache of your browser you will be able to download current version "skelion.rbz". I fix skelion web page so if you download now, I think you don't need to clear the cache of your browser.

Anthony said...


I have tried to unsuccessfully download the skelion plug in. The first time I could only download the '' file (which when unzipped did not contain any '.rbz' files. I deleted all temporary internet files and tried again but could only get the zip file again. I redownloaded it but upon opening it said the file was corrupt.

juan said...

Hi Anthony,
Current file to download is "skelion_v503.rbz".
You can use other browser different of your normal browser, like "chrome".
Then I'm sure you will download the right file.

Anthony said...

Thanks Juan,

Chrome did the trick.

Jennifer Long said...

I do believe in the helpful benefits of home solar panels. However, IMO, Skelion is only applicable with big houses or establishment..