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Ecotect Tutorial : Incident Solar Radiation Graphs

Synopsis

This ECOTECT tutorial explains how to display and interpret information on an incident solar radiation graph.

Duration

You will need about 20 minutes to complete this tutorial.

Training and Accreditation

Successfully completing this tutorial fulfills one of the practical skills required for completing Level 1 of the Solar Radiation Analysis training module.

Resources Required

To complete this tutorial, open the Bldgs-ShadingDesign-RtoL.eco file located in the Examples folder of your Ecotect installation.

Tutorial

Single Day Hourly Exposure Graph

  1. Incident solar radiation graphs can be displayed for one or more objects in an ECOTECT model. For this tutorial, select the Zone 8 window as shown in the screenshot, and then select the Calculate»Solar Exposure menu item.
    Select the Zone 8 window object.
    Select the Zone 8 window object.
  2. This initially displays a blank hourly solar exposure graph. To rectify this, you need to load some climate data - click the Calculate button, and a dialogue box will appear, prompting you to load a climate data file. For this tutorial, use the .WEA file for Perth, Western Australia. Then click Yes to the Update global position to match climate file dialogue box, and you will then be returned to the analysis graph.
    Blank graph.

    Blank graph.

    Load climate data.

    Load climate data.

    If not already loaded, load some climate data.

    1. The updated graph breaks down hourly solar radiation exposure into six components :
      • Incident is the amount of solar radiation hitting the selected surface.

      • Absorbed is the amount of solar radiation being absorbed into the selected surface.

      • Transmitted is the amount of solar radiation passing through the selected surface.

      • Direct is the total amount of solar radiation originating directly from the sun.

      • Diffuse is the amount of solar radiation that results from diffuse sky conditions.

      • Reflected is the amount of solar radiation being reflected by objects tagged as solar reflectors.
    2. The hourly solar exposure graph is also overlaid with a grey mask, representing the percentage amount of shade being projected onto the selected object - however the shading mask display first needs to be updated. Click the Update Shading button - this prompts ECOTECT to recalculate the shading mask for the selected object. The hourly solar exposure graph now displays the shading percentage for the selected object on the selected day. In the following screenshot for January 1st, the selected window is in 80% shade at 7pm.
      The updated hourly solar exposure graph for Jan 1st.
      The updated hourly solar exposure graph for Jan 1st.
    3. Use the Select Date slider and the Search Data For button to select other dates to display - note how the shading mask and amount of solar radiation exposure updates accordingly. If you don't see any change to the shading mask, click the Update Shading button to prompt ECOTECT to update the shading mask manually.
      The shading mask changes throughout the year.
      The shading mask changes throughout the year.
    4. Under the Overshadowing section, you can choose to use shading data from one of two sources - Each Object uses the 10°x10° shading mask generated during the last Inter-Zonal Adjacency calculation. Sun-Path uses the detailed Sun-Path shading calculation functions for each object. Use the wizard button to the right of the drop box to configure the settings for the respective shading data options. After making any changes, click the Calculate button to update the displayed graph.
    5. Below the shading data option drop box, there are two checkbox options. Ground Reflection sets whether or not to include the effects of ground reflected solar radiation (a reflectivity of 0.2 for the ground surface is assumed). Direct Light Only isolates the direct component of the available solar radiation, ignoring all diffuse and reflected radiation. After making any changes, click the Calculate button to update the displayed graph.
    6. To the right of these options, you can see a text field containing a numerical summary of the graph data. Right-click on this field for formatting, copying and saving options for the data.
      The graph data is also available as a numerical table of values.
      The graph data is also available as a numerical table of values.

    The single day hourly exposure graph is just one of four ways of representing solar exposure data, which can be selected from the Calculate dropdown box:

    Average Daily Solar Exposure

    Average Daily Exposure Graph.
    Average Daily Exposure Graph.
    This calculates the amount of radiation falling on selected surfaces on an average day each month. Geometric overshadowing and reflective effects are calculated for only one day in the middle of the month. The total solar radiation for that month is calculated from the climate data file and divided by the number of days in that month. The resulting graphs therefore shows the average hourly values to be expected on any one day during that month.


    Total Monthly Solar Exposure

    Average Daily Exposure Graph.
    Average Daily Exposure Graph.
    This calculates the total amount of solar radiation falling on selected surfaces for each month of the year. Geometric overshadowing, reflective effects and available radiation are calculated separately for each day within the month. This calculation will obviously take around 30 times longer that the average daily calculation and display a graph similar to the Average Daily graph, however showing the total hourly values to be expected over the entire month.


    Full Monthly Solar Exposure

    Average Daily Exposure Graph.
    Average Daily Exposure Graph.
    This is the same calculation as used for total monthly radiation, except that the results of each day are displayed in the graph, showing significantly more variation.


    For each of these graphs, the same overshadowing options exist as with the single day hourly exposure graph, along with the ability to isolate what solar data to display (eg. incident, reflected, absorbed etc). Also, with all but the Full Hourly graph, measured values can be superimposed over the cells of the graph.

Ecotect Tutorial : Cumulative Insolation Analysis
Ecotect Tutorial : Solar Availability Using Analysis Grid

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