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Solar Exposure

Solar Exposure determines the number of hours of sunlight at your location, which is important in gardening, architectural planning, solar heating and many other applications. Unlike other solar apps that provide only visual displays or rough estimates from images, Solar Exposure uses actual measurements at your location to compute the amount of sunlight each hour, in the morning or afternoon, for any season, or day of the year. Solar Exposure takes into account the effect of trees, houses, and other structures that can obscure the sun at different times of the day, which usually vary on a seasonal basis.

Solar Exposure is easy to use:

  1. Mark your position on a map.
  2. Scan the sky using a visual (virtual reality) guide that shows you the path of the sun in spring or fall, summer, and winter.
  3. Edit the sky scan to mark areas in the field of view that are shaded or in sun.
  4. Generate a report and export via email.
Applications:
  • Determine how much sunlight a window of your house or apartment will receive in the spring, summer, fall, and winter.
  • Help decide where to plant a garden, or whether certain plants will receive enough sunlight, or even what type of grass seed to use.
  • Decide where to place solar heating units in places that are shadowed at certain times of the day or year.

How to Operate

Select "Setup" to go to a map view that shows your current location. Move the map so the cross-hairs are on your current position. Tap the "Re-calibrate" button until the map rotates to match the orientation of the surrounding landscape.

N.B. You must hold the device up, aim parallel to ground, and tap "Re-calibrate" in "Setup" mode for app to work properly.

Select "Scan" to generate a new scan, save a scan, load a previous scan or delete a scan you no longer need. To create a new scan, tap "Start". After a brief delay the app will be beep. While holding the phone upright, rotate your body and raise the phone to follow the guide lines. Red is the path of the sun on the winter solstice (shortest day of the year), blue is the path on the spring and fall equinox, and green is the path on the summer solstice (longest day of the year). The field of view of the iPhone is sufficient to capture the full extent of the path of the sun. The iPad's camera has a narrower FOV and so the user will have to adjust the scan accordingly to make sure trees, houses, and other objects that block the sun are represented.

Select "Analyze" to see your scan, which at first is scaled to show the full scan. The lines showing the path of the sun are superimposed on the scan.

Tap the left button to see the northeast (NE), southeast (SE), southwest (SW), and northwest (NW) quadrants of the scan.

If the right button is set to "Sun" tapping the middle "Reset" button will create a yellow mask (overlay). Yellow indicates that the sun will be visible at your location when it is at that position in the sky. Tap the "Sun" button to switch to "Shade". Erase the sun wherever there are trees, buildings, and other obstructions. You only have to do this between the lines.

When you are done, select "Report" to generate a table. The right button changes the number of rows in the table. "Year" creates a table summarizing the number of hours of sunlight at your location averaged over the entire year. "Season" creates a table summarizing the number of hours of sunlight at your location averaged over three month intervals:

  • Jan-Mar - winter in the northern hemisphere (summer in the southern hemisphere)
  • Apr-Jun - spring in the northern hemisphere (fall in the southern hemisphere)
  • Jul-Sep - summer in the northern hemisphere (winter in the southern hemisphere)
  • Oct-Dec - fall in the northern hemisphere (spring in the southern hemisphere)
"Month", "Week", and "Day" provide increasingly greater detail in tables with 12, 52, and 365 rows, respectively.

The middle button lets you summarize the number of hours of sunlight over the entire day ("Daily"), in the morning and afternoon ("AM/PM"), or by hour ("Hourly") in tables with 1, 2, or 24 columns, respectively.

After selecting the kind of table you want, tap "Compute" to display it, and the right button to export it via email.

N.B. The app does not work in equatorial regions between +23.5 and -23.5 degrees or in places where there is no map coverage.

App works best on iPhone but can be used on iPad provided the user is able to make the appropriate adjustments noted above.

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