18 March 2008

Solmetric joy!

It was totally incredible: somehow Snow got ahold of a kickass new solar toy, the Solmetric SunEye, which is like a technologically advanced in-colour version of the Solar Pathfinder...but way cooler on many levels.

When I took my photovoltaic classes originally in 2006, we got to play with a Solar Pathfinder. Well, actually, the instructors did, and we got to watch. Anyway, it's a little tripod with a glass dome, and little circular black pieces of paper that fit under the dome. You set it up where you want to do a solar site analysis and take a white crayon to outline the troublesome shade issues. The paper is divided into hours of the day and months of the year, showing when a particular object's shadow will become an issue. Pretty sweet.

But the Solmetric! It's like a PDA, with a fish-eye lens, a 360-degree level and a compass. Orient the device south and level it, then snap a photo. The divisions for hours of the day and months of the year are still there, but the shading is done automatically. Since it's electronic, you can also go back to edit shading. (An example of this in a bit.) It's so cool though, it shows the percentage of efficiency per season and per month, the azimuth and all kinds of things. I can't imagine the time it saves.

Anyway, I went down to get some 6-32 screws in the substation, and I ran into both Gwynne and Snow down there. Basically, I was given permission to go up to the pool deck at the Palazzo to test it out and see how it works. Snow set it up and we picked one site with the potential for alot of sun and one that we knew would be mostly shaded all the time. After the site shots were taken, we walked back to the office two floors down and he loaded the session to his laptop.

It was amazing. Aside from all the site calculations being done, Snow showed me how to edit a shot. One of them had the construction crane visible, and that's only temporary, so he deleted that as an obstruction. The percentage didn't jump up much, but it was enough to see that such a move might, in some cases, really change the outcome of a particular session. Plus, it can be printed out, so you can average it all together between the sites or print a before and after...I was really impressed. I told Snow I was going to sneak and play with it when he's not looking and he kinda laughed. But seriously, I'd love to work with one, just to get the idea on how an analysis could work.

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