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# SOLAR GEOMETRY

AND
Natural daylight is a vital element in creating a more
efficient and eminently more rewarding interior
environment. Daylight is important for its quality, spectral
composition, and the variability that it provides to any
space.

amount of energy from
the sun and usually most
of the sunlight gets
concentrated in certain
areas of the space.

## Such a large amount of direct sunlight can be a source of

great discomfort when concentrated on a spot, but is
extremely useful if distributed to all parts of the room
equally.
When ambient temperature are
within or above the comfort
zone, any ingress of solar
discomfort

## The angle at which the sun's rays hit

the atmosphere above us effect the
It varies throughout the year from
+23.5 degrees at the summer solstice to
0 degrees at the equinoxes to -23.5
degrees at the winter solstice.

## The use of massive air conditioning plants to correct all

ill conceived environment does not differ in principle
from the use of a masonry façade to hide an
unnecessarily ugly concrete structure.

## The climate presents a challenge to the architect not

satisfied with substituting mechanical equipment for
good design.
SOLAR GEOMETRY

## The Earth’s daily rotation about

the axis through its two celestial
poles (North and South) is
perpendicular to the equator, but
it is not perpendicular to the
plane of the Earth’s orbit.

## In fact, the measure of tilt or obliquity of the

Earth’s axis to a line perpendicular to the
plane of its orbit is currently about 23.5°.
SOLAR GEOMETRY

## We call the plane parallel to the

Earth’s celestial equator and
through the center of the sun the
plane of the Sun.
SOLAR GEOMETRY

## Solar Geometry describes the relationship between

the Sun and the Earth. Its also defined as the determining
factor of heat gain.
Cognizance of the sun angles is imperative in
designing for sun access and penetration into interior
spaces. Faces of the building receive differing amounts and
quality of light depending on their orientation, time of year and
time of day.

## In studying solar geometry we are going to figure out how to

use the Sun’s natural path in summer Vs winter to provide FREE
heat in the winter, and to reduce required COOLING in the
summer.
How is the geometrical relation between Earth and the
Sun relevant to Building design?
For any design purposes, the position of the Sun on
a given date at a given time has to be known. This
enables the building designer to predict which faces
of the building would be sunlit, and hence receive
the building, the patches on sunlight on floors walls,
etc.

## The knowledge of altitude and the azimuth of the

Sun enable the designer to predict the intensity of
solar radiation for a specified space and time
coordinates. This influences building size, volumetric
proportions, orientation, fenestration details,
shading devices, ventilation, building materials, etc.

## Generally, roofs are subject to much higher thermal loads in summer

East and west facades are subject to even higher loads in summer than
South facades however are suitable in winter for solar energy yields
since the relatively flat sun falls almost exclusively on the vertical
surfaces.
The largest thermal loads on the facades are present in spring and
autumn on the south east and south west facades.
The south facades are easier to control thermally due to the steep
incident sunlight in summer.
SUN CONTROL

## Four variables which are within the control of the

designer are
Orientation and window size
Internal blinds, curtains
Special glasses
ORIENTATION
intensities on a horizontal surface and
on vertical walls of different orientations
are shown.
In general, the horizontal surface receives the
greatest intensity(especially near the Equator).
At the higher latitude the wall facing the
Equator receives the next highest intensity in
the winter, but it receives very little in the
summer.
In the equatorial location north and south
walls receive the least intensity and that only for
short periods of the year.
East and west facing walls receive the second
highest intensities in the equatorial location and
consistently large intensities even at the higher
latitude.
Solar radiation intensities for latitude 1⁰
South - Nairobi
CONCLUSION

## IN THE EQUATORIAL LOCATION, IF SOLAR HEAT GAIN IS TO

BE AVOIDED, THE MAIN WINDOWS SHOULD FACE NORTH OR
SOUTH.

## AT THE HIGHER LATITUDE, AN ORIENTATION TOWARDS THE

EQUATOR MAY BE PREFERABLE.

## IN OTHER LOCATIONS, ONLY MINOR OPENINGS OF

UNIMPORTANT ROOMS SHOULD BE PLACES ON THE EAST
AND WEST SIDE.

## SOLAR HEAT GAIN ON THE WEST SIDE CAN BE

PARTICULARLY TROUBLESOME AS ITS MAXIMUM INTENSITY
COINCIDES WITH THE HOTTEST PART OF THE DAY.
SUN PATH

## Sun path refers to the apparent significant seasonal-and-hourly

positional changes of the sun (and length of daylight) as the
Earth rotates, and orbits around the sun.

## The relative position of the sun is a major factor in

the heat gain of buildings and in the performance of solar
energy systems.
summer

winter
SUN PATH
Accurate location-specific knowledge of sun path and
climatic conditions is essential for decisions

## The degree of tilt of these sun paths from the vertical is

the same as the latitude of the location.
At the equator the sun paths
would be vertical and at the pole
the equinox sun-path would
match the horizon circle, for the
winter half-year the sun would be
below the horizon and for the
summer half-year it would not set:
it would spiral up to an altitude of
23.45⁰ and then back to the
horizon.
SOLAR ANGLES: The Sun’s position on the sky hemisphere
can be specified by two angles
Solar altitude angle
Solar azimuth angle
SOLAR ANGLES

## altitude (ALT) - measured in the vertical plane, between the

sun's direction and the horizontal; in some texts this is
referred to as 'elevation' or 'profile angle'

## azimuth (AZI) - the direction of the sun measured in the

horizontal plane from north in a clockwise direction (thus
east = 90⁰, south = 180⁰ and west = 270⁰ , whilst north can
be 0 or 360⁰).
SUN PATH DIAGRAM
Sun path diagrams can tell a lot about how the sun will
impact your site and building throughout the year.
Stereographic sun path diagrams can be used to read
the solar azimuth and altitude for a given location.

## The solar altitude, and the solar azimuth, can be read

directly for any date of the year and any hour of the day
from the solar charts or sun path diagrams.

9.9252° N
At 9am…on April 1...
the azimuth is 62o
the altitude is 30o

STEREOGRAPHIC SUN
PATH DIAGRAM

## There are many different reasons to control the amount of

sunlight that is admitted into a building.
In warm, sunny climates excess solar gain may result
in high cooling energy consumption;
In cold and temperate climates winter sun entering
south-facing windows can positively contribute to
passive solar heating; and
In nearly all climates controlling and diffusing natural
illumination will improve day lighting.

## Well-designed sun control and shading devices can

dramatically reduce building peak heat gain and cooling
requirements and improve the natural lighting quality of
building interiors.
SUN CONTROL AND

## Sun control and solar shading

devices can also improve user visual
comfort by controlling glare and
devices offer the opportunity of
from another. This can provide
architectural interest and human
scale to an otherwise
undistinguished design.
The use of sun control and shading devices is an important aspect of many
energy-efficient building design strategies. In particular, buildings that
employ passive solar heating or day lighting often depend on well-designed
Shading devices can have a dramatic impact on building
appearance. This impact can be for the better or for the
worse. The earlier in the design process that shading
devices are considered the more likely they are to be
attractive and well integrated in the overall architecture of
the project.

## Architecture today uses shading devices not just as a

practical necessity but also to enhance the architectural
nature of a design.

## These are placed horizontally in front of the window, in various ways.

Their shape, type, depth and height all differs, all depending on the sun
conditions.
A window overhang is a (usually) horizontal surface that juts out over a
window to shade it from the sun.
This is desirable in order to reduce glare or solar heat gain during
warm seasons.
In temperate climates, where there are warm and cool seasons due to
the tilt of the earth's axis of rotation in relation to the plane of its orbit, it
is often desirable to shade a window during hot summer months but to
allow sunlight to shine through a window in the winter to help warm a
building.
Because the sun is higher in the sky in the summer than the winter, it is
possible for a fixed overhang to accomplish both summer shading and
The vertical exterior louver and egg-crate solar shading devices, are
primarily useful for east and west exposures. These devices also
improve the insulation value of glass in winter months by acting as a
windbreak.

Vertical Louvers
can also be designed
to vary angle
according to the sun's
position.
EGG-CRATE
The egg-crate solar shading device is a combination of vertical and
horizontal shading elements. They are more commonly used in hot
climate regions because of their high shading efficiencies. The
horizontal elements control ground glare from reflected solar rays.

## RULES OF THE THUMB

Shading devices should be selected according to the orientation of the
window. Whilst some orientations are easy to shade, others are much
more difficult as the sun can shine almost straight in at times. The table
below indicates the most appropriate type of shading device to use for
each orientation in the southern hemisphere.
ANGLE OF INCIDENCE

## From solar altitude angle and solar azimuth angle,

the Sun’s position in relation to the wall surface of any
orientation can be established.

## The horizontal component of the angle of incidence will

be the difference between the solar azimuth and the wall
azimuth.
If the wall is facing west(270⁰); the angle of
incidence = (270⁰ – 62⁰) = 208 ⁰

## The vertical component is the same as the solar altitude

angle itself.
The performance of shading devices is specified by two
angles:

When attempting to shade a window, the
absolute azimuth and altitude of the Sun
are not as important as the horizontal and
vertical shadow angles relative to the
window plane. These can be calculated for
any time if the azimuth and altitude of the
Sun are known.
The solar azimuth angle is
the azimuth angle of the sun.[1][2][3] It defines in
which direction the sun is, whereas the solar
zenith angle or its complementary angle solar
elevationdefines how high the sun is.
ORIENTATION
Structural controls like ‘external shading devices’ are essential environmental
controls that either obviate or greatly reduce the need for mechanical heating
and cooling to maintain thermal comfort inside buildings, by controlling heat
gain through openings. Along with glazing type and size of the fenestration,
shading devices are equally important in limiting heat gain from outside through
radiation. External and internal shading devices can thus be used as an essential
solution for achieving energy efficiency.
Efficacy of internal shading devices is limited as they absorb the heat once it has
been transmitted inside the space and heat up themselves. This can lead to
higher mean radiant temperatures inside the building.
Orientation of an opening and by extension, solar radiation incident on it, is the
single most important factor in the design of its external shading
devices. Impact of seasonal variation in the sun path (and incident solar
radiation) is linked to the orientation. Sun path is at a low angle and, slightly to
the south of east and west during the winter season in northern hemisphere. In
summer, sun path is at a high angle and, to the north of east and west. So
shading for south openings in the south must allow penetration of the low angle
sun for heat gain during winter but must block the same during summer. For
opening in north, shading is needed only to prevent penetration of the high sun
angle during summers.
Solar radiation on east and west facing openings does not vary much by the