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What is solar shading analysis?


May 2023

We answer your questions about solar shading analysis, including how it’s done and what tools you need to do it accurately.

May 2023

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With green energy and cost savings both top of mind in many industries, solar shading analysis has become increasingly important across planning and construction. From residential homes to large-scale projects, finding clever ways to make the most of our clean, natural resources to create smarter structures is a more popular concept than ever.
Through solar shading analysis, we can determine how much solar radiation enters a building or space — this means factors like indoor comfort, energy use and daylighting can be optimised. So, how does it all work? We’ll talk you through it.

How does solar shading analysis work?

A solar shading analysis is typically performed using computer simulations that consider a variety of factors that affect the amount of solar radiation that enters a building or space. Let’s go through the basic steps involved in a solar shading analysis:

Site analysis

The first step is to gather information about the building site, including its location, orientation, and surrounding environment. Thorough site analysis can be conducted totally remotely using the most current oblique and orthographic aerial imagery from Nearmap.
Information gathered in a site analysis can be used to create a 3D model of the building and its surroundings — allowing you to visualise your project in deep context of its environment.

Climate data

Next, climate data is collected for the location, including information on solar radiation, temperature, and humidity. This data is used to simulate the amount of solar radiation that enters the building under different conditions.

Building properties

The properties of the building itself are also taken into account, including the size and location of windows, the type of glazing used, and the materials used in the building process.

Simulation

Using the gathered information, a computer simulation is run to model the amount of solar radiation that enters the building over the course of a set period. The simulation accounts for the position of the sun and the angle of incidence of the solar radiation.

Analysis

The results of the simulation are analysed to assess the potential effects of solar radiation on indoor comfort, energy use and daylighting. With this information, you can decide if the space is a candidate for solar power and figure out the optimal shading strategy.

How do you interpret solar shading analysis?

Interpreting solar shading analysis involves using the gathered information to determine the potential effects of solar radiation on a space. The analysis should provide information on the amount of solar radiation that enters the building or space at different times of the day and year. This can provide vital context about glare and heat gain as well as solar radiation-related discomfort, thermal discomfort, and visual discomfort.
Secondly, you can learn about potential energy use of the building or space under different shading scenarios.
Finally, you can get a baseline for the potential for natural daylighting under different shading scenarios.
When you complete a thorough and accurate shading analysis, you will be rewarded with the pieces of the puzzle required to reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency in a space. The specific needs of a project will also determine how the results of the analysis can be used.

How is shading analysis used?

On a holistic level, solar shading analysis can optimise building design and energy efficiency, as well as ensure occupant comfort. There are some vital practical applications of shading analysis that we’ll expand on below.

Energy-efficient building design

When designing an energy-efficient building, you must consider factors like orientation, window size and location, as well as the surrounding environment. By analysing the amount of solar radiation that enters a building and the potential effects on indoor comfort and energy use, designers can determine the optimal shading strategy to reduce energy consumption and improve comfort.

Solar energy installation

By performing shading analysis on either a new site or an existing structure, it can be determined whether a certain space is a good candidate for solar panel installation. The solar industry can benefit hugely from smart solar lead generation — it makes prospecting for sites a faster, smoother and completely remote operation.

Window treatment selection

Shading analysis can be used to determine the best type of window treatments for a space. For example, a space that receives a lot of direct sunlight may benefit from window blinds or shades that can be adjusted to block or allow light as needed.

Building retrofitting

If you need to identify areas of a building that are experiencing solar gain and contributing to increased energy consumption, shading analysis is the solution. The findings can be used to retrofit the building with shading devices or other measures to reduce solar gain and energy use.

Daylighting design

Optimising the design of daylighting systems in a building is a huge energy-saver. By analysing the amount of solar radiation that enters a space and the potential for glare or heat gain, designers can determine the best placement and type of daylighting systems to maximise natural light and minimise energy use.

Finding the best solar shade analysis tools

When it comes to solar shading analysis, accuracy is paramount — which means you need to use the best tools available. Access to the most up-to-date aerial imagery is a vital piece of the solar shading puzzle, as it allows you to conduct a site analysis totally remotely, with accuracy and confidence. You can measure building sizes, see varying angles including vegetation, and ultimately get a fantastic snapshot of some key factors in the shading analysis process.
Want to find out more? Get in touch with Nearmap today.