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Solar radiation geometry

Solar radiation geometry is the determining factor of heat gain, Shading and the potential of
day light penetration. Direction of beam radiation is useful in establishing geometric
relationship between a plane and incoming beam solar radiation.
Direction of beam radiation can be described in terms of several angles.
Angles useful in solar radiation analysis

Basic solar angles:



Latitude angle ()
Declination angle ()
Hour angle()
Derived solar angles:


Altitude angle()
Zenith angle(z)
Solar azimuth angle (s)
Surface angles:


Surface azimuth angle()

Slope ()

Angle made by radial line joining the location to the

(1) Latitude angle (): Angle
centre of earth and the projection of that line on equatorial plane. It varies from 00 at
equator to 90 at poles (north positive).

Fig.1: the position of any point on earth.

Fig.2: Basic angles.

(2) Declination angle ():

( It is the angle between a line extending from centre of
sun to centre of earth and the projection of this line upon earths equatorial plane. It is
due to tilt of Earths axis and it varies between 23.45 (summer solstice: 22 June) to
-23.45 (winter solstice: December 22). On equinoxes, Declination=0
It is given by

.( +

Fig.3: The variation in declination angle throughout year.

(3) Hour angle ():

): The angle through which earth must turn to bring the
meridian of a point directly in line with Suns rays. The angle through which earth
must turn to bring the meridian of a point directly in line with Suns rays. At solar
noon = 0.
It is measures from
m noon, (+)ve before noon and (-)ve
)ve after noon.

Vertical angle between direction of sun ray and its

(4) Altitude angle ():
( Vertical
projection on horizontal plane on earths surface.
surface It is maximum at solar noon.

Fig.4: Derived angles.

(5) Zenith angle (

z): Complementary
omplementary angle of solar altitude angle, i.e. Vertical
angle between Suns rays and a line perpendicular to horizontal plane through the

(6) Solar azimuth angle (s

( or Az): It is the horizontal angle measured from
north to horizontal projection of Suns rays. It is considered (+)ve west side. Also can
be defined as solar angle in degrees along the horizon east or west of north.
Relation between basic solar angles

cosz = cos cos cos

cos +sin sin = sin
= 90- z
coss = sec (cos sin
sin cos sin cos )
sins = sec cos sin

(7) Surface azimuth angle (): For tilted surfaces. It is angle of deviation of
the normal to the surface from the local meridian, or It is the angle between the
normal to the surface and south.
For south facing surface = 0. For west facing surface = 90 and so on. Eastward: (+)ve, West-ward : (-)ve.

Fig.5: Surface angles.

(8) Slope (): Angle made by the plane surface with the horizontal. (+)ve : for
surface slopping toward south . (-)ve : for surface slopping toward north.

(9) Incidence () : Used when tilted surfaces are involved. Angle between sun rays
and normal to surface under consideration.
General equation for angle of incidence ():
cos = sin ( sincos + coscoscossin ) + cos(coscoscos sincossin)
+ cos sinsinsin

By: Kailash Singh Jhinkwan

Mtech (Thermal engineering)