Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Friday, December 19, 2008

Showing People the Light

In using the tools of a trade that require the photographer's head to be aligned with the earth's rotational axis, perhaps we see that even if the Universe appears to revolve around oneself, there is still the opportunity to be in service to others and the planet.
There, Caitlan, an absurd example of Not Art. Coming up with an Artist Statement does not transform this image into art.

This is, however, a picture of me... and the sky, showing how the sun moves through it over the course of a year. It's taken with a Suneye, a device made by Solmetric. I'll take a half-dozen or so of these and use the data to help my clients see where to place their panels. I've been to jobsites where at 2 in the afternoon we are standing in the shade of a giant tree and the client will say to me with a perfectly straight face, "This is the part of the yard we don't use, so I want to put the array here," or "That corner of my roof gets late afternoon sun, can we put a panel there?"

Even before I took this job, I knew that solar panels ran on sunshine. Not shadeshine.

If I try just using my words to explain that buying solar panels to put in the shade is not a good expenditure, a typical response is "I want your engineer to figure it out anyway." So the Suneye is invaluable. I'll take a picture, it'll show how the trees shade the spot, and also how much sun really does land there. The client will often be disappointed ("But I can see so much sky over my head, I am amazed that the sun doesn't shine right here!") but then we get to move forward and see if they really do have any good space for an array. I wish I could pass along a lesson of permaculture, in which people slow down and spend time observing a place for at least a year before making any changes. I mean really observing, too: shifting with the seasons and all.

In the pic above, the software automatically shades green over places that block the sun. I told it to ignore the tree that blocks this spot after about 3pm for 8 months of the year. I over-painted that tree yellow to show the client that he can get all the way up to an annual insolation of 72% if he takes that tree out.

The Suneye is to shade measurements as CAD software is to a drafting board. I can spend about 15 minutes taking readings and 15 minutes interpreting them and give my client a fairly accurate idea about how to place an array so the money they spend on their solar panels generates the most amount of power.

1 comment:

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