Solar simulators and light sources produce a simulated solar spectrum for plant growth, material-degradation simulations, weathering tests for coatings, photovoltaic (PV) cell testing, sunblock evaluations, and window transmission studies.

Types of Solar Simulators and Light Sources

Selecting solar simulators and light sources requires an understanding of available configurations.

  • Solar chambers consist of a power supply, light source, and enclosure. The enclosure or chamber providesa work surface and shields the operator from radiation.
  • Flood lamps are solar simulators and light sources that provide a broad or wide beam of light. UV flood sources or modules consist of a power supply and light source for use as a stand-alone system or as a module or subsystem of a larger UV system.
  • Focusedlamps provide a narrow or collimatedbeam of light. UV focused sources or modules consist of a power supply and light source for use as a stand-alone system or as a module or sub-system of a larger UV system.
  • Portable or handheld lamps are solar simulators and light sources that can be carried manually. These devices are useful for repair,testing, and other applications in field, laboratory, plant floor,and othersettingswhere transportation of large systemsis impractical.
  • Spot or wand systemsarebenchtop units that provide a beam of light with a relatively small spot size for selective curing applications.
  • Wallorceiling-mounted systems consist of a power supply, light source, andbracketfor attachmentto a wall or ceiling. Theair stream or dust particles are disinfectedas the UV light irradiates theair circulating through the room.

Lamp Specifications

Solar simulators and light sources can be selected based on spectral range, output power, illuminated area, and product features.

  • Spectral range is the range of light that the lamp emits. Choices for spectral range include full spectrum, UVA (long wave), UVB (middle band), UVC (short wave), and visible light.
  • Output power is the total power that the system produces upon emitting light. Power is generally measured in watts.
  • Illuminated area defines the area in which the primary mirror or lens is used, omitting possible obstructions.
  • Product features may include a computer interface, hour meter or timer, internal filter, light emitting diode (LED) source, and multiple wands. Solar simulators and light sources that are pulsed or NIST-traceable are also available.

Design Applications

There are many applications for solar simulators and light simulators. Some products are designed to test coatings and paints, paper and labels, optical components, or plastic and rubber. Others are used to study degradation and weathering, photostability and color fastness, plant growth, or packaging effectiveness. Solar simulators and light sources are also used for PV cells and solar cells, textile studies, and transmission studies.