Solar Shading

An app for photovoltaic shading analysis

An Essential Tool For Any Photovoltaic Installer

Shading is a major concern for solar panel installations. It causes panel hot spots as well as diminishes the output of an array.

The Solar Shading app lets a photovoltaic installer/designer complete a solar shading analysis in just a couple of minutes and then send out a PDF shading report showing the array losses due to shading and the array kWh output.

The app uses your phone’s compass, GPS and accelerometer to map the horizon and obstructions.  By inputting the array location and data the user can map the obstructions on the horizon (see the quick start guide below). Please read the users manual as the horizon mapping process may not be self evident.

Notable Features

  • Customize the Solar Path Graph
    • Show winter and summer solstice solar path lines
    • Show month solar path lines
    • Show custom day solar path line
    • Show current day solar path line
    • Show day hours along solar path
    • Show grid lines
    • Transpose the graph by 180 degrees (for the users in the southern hemisphere)
    • Edit the colors of all graph elements
    • Add a picture to the solar path graph from your gallery to show the client how the obstructions (i.e. a tree) shade the array
    • Clip the path graph to create what if type scenarios
    • Send the mapping through a smoothing process (used for phones with “noisy” sensors)
  • Customize the Monthly Losses Bar Graph
    • Set alert and danger shading limits
    • Display an non-weighted shading loss graph (i.e. don’t account for the sun angle on the array)
    • Invert the graph elements to show the solar access
    • Change the colors for all graph elements
  • Customize the System Output Bar Graph
    • Set monthly derating factors to account for weather conditions
    • Use PVWatts for system output calculation (coming soon)
    • Change the colors for all graph elements
    • Use PVWatts data for an accurate output kWh (be sure to get an API key if using this option)
  • Create and send a PDF report showing all graphs and information for the array
    • Customize the report with you name and the company name
    • Customize the report with a company header
    • Customize image quality (for quicker processing)
    • Customize date format
    • Customize whether to show the address based on the GPS location
    • Customize which graphs to include
  • Compare shading analysis’s in one report
    • Customize the report with you name and the company name
    • Customize the report with a company header
    • Customize image quality (for quicker processing)
    • Customize date format
    • Customize whether to show the address based on the GPS location
    • Customize which graphs to include
  • Solar compass for quick reference when on site
  • Export location and graphs to Google Earth
  • Export shading file to PVSyst or SAM model
  • Show array location in Google maps

Three things to note with this app:

  1. Your phones SD card must be mounted for this program to function properly.
  2. All of the calculations are done on the phone locally so that the app can be used in remote locations, however, this means that on devices with lower processing speeds the calculations will take a while to process.
  3. You need to have an internet connection when you start the app for a license check.

If you are having trouble figuring out how to map the horizon please check out the FAQ page or e-mail.

Recommended devices include: 1GHz processor, 512MB RAM. Supported on most tablets, but be sure to check the application settings for tablets.

Quick Start Horizon Mapping Guide:

Manual (default)/Automatic Stop

  1. Hold the phone in landscape and line up the crosshairs to the top of the shading obstruction(s)
  2. Start recording by pressing the recording button
  3. Complete a 360 degree turn while tilting the phone to keep the crosshairs aligned with the top of the shading obstruction(s)
  4. Press stop recording (if using the manual stop method)

Manual Tap

  1. Hold the phone in landscape and line up the crosshairs to the top of the first shading obstruction
  2. Record this point by pressing the record button
  3. Rotate clockwise
  4. Repeat steps 1 through 3 until you have mapped all of the shading obstructions
  5. Press the stop recording button

Tips and Tricks

  1. A full 360 degree spin is not always necessary. If you only are concerned with only a single obstruction (like a tree) just start and stop before and after the obstruction. This will speed up the calculation process.
  2. Unckeck the “Create Graphs From Scratch” option to not re-create graphs every time they are viewed
  3. For quickest calculation speeds use the manual tap method (Settings>Horizon Mapping Settings) with the lowest image resolution (Settings>PDF Report Settings)
  4. Use the app defaults to auto-populate the job set up (under Application Settings)
  5. Change the sensor bar and crosshair colors to help with visibility during the mapping process (Settings>Horizon Mapping Settings)