From Solar Power in Building Design: The Engineer's Complete Design Resource

Essential steps required for solar power systems engineering design include site evaluation, feasibility study, site shading analysis, photovoltaic mapping or configuration analysis, dc-to-ac power conversion calculations, PV module and inverter system selection, and total solar power array electric power calculations.

In previous chapters we reviewed the physics, manufacturing technologies, and design considerations applied to photovoltaic solar power cogeneration systems. This chapter is intended to provide a pragmatic approach for designing solar power systems.

In order to have a holistic understanding of solar power cogeneration systems, designers must have a basic appreciation of insolation concepts, shading analysis, and various design parameters that affect the output performance and efficiency of the overall system. In view of the California Solar Initiative (CSI) and other state rebate programs, which will be discussed in future chapters, the importance of system performance and efficiency form the foundation that determines whether a project becomes financially viable.


The amount of energy that is received from the sun rays that strike the surface of our planet is referred to as insolation (I). The amount of energy that reaches the surface of Earth is by and large subject to climatic conditions such as seasonal temperature changes, cloudy conditions, and the angle at which solar rays strike the ground.

Because our planet revolves around the sun in an oval-shaped orbit with its axis tilted at approximately 23.5 degrees, the solar declination angle (i) (shown in Figure 4.1) constantly varies throughout the revolution, gradually changing from +23.5 degrees on...

Products & Services
Photovoltaic (PV) and Solar Power Systems
Solar power systems convert light into electricity. They are the building blocks of photovoltaic (PV) modules.
Solar Panels
Solar Panels are modules built with a collection of solar cells and are used for the production of DC voltage and current directly from the sun energy.
Photovoltaic Cells and Panels
Photovoltaic cells or solar cells generate a voltage when radiant energy falls on the boundary between dissimilar substances. A solar panel, also called a photovoltaic panel, is a group of photovoltaic cells that are enclosed to keep the cells safe and so that the voltage obtained from each cell can be combined.
Solar Radiation Instruments
Solar radiation instruments measure the spectral range of radiation, including global solar radiation (sun + sky), net radiation (incoming solar - reflected solar) and the photosynthetic light spectrum.
Solar Simulators and Light Sources
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.

Topics of Interest

Introduction In previous chapters we covered the basic concepts of solar power system design, reviewed various system configurations, and outlined all major system equipment and materials required to...

Overview Radiation is an important component of the climate system because it is the dominant form ofenergy exchange between the earth and its surroundings. The sun is the primary source of...

Overview The following is a summary highlight of the California Solar Incentive (CSI) program, a detailed version of which is available on the CSI Web page at Beginning January 1, 2007,...

Introduction Solar, or photovoltaic (PV), cells are electronic devices that essentially convert the solar energy of sunlight into electric energy or electricity. The physics of solar cells is based...

PART 7. PHOTOVOLTAICS Etienne Rapp 11.27. SOLAR RADIATION The average solar power per unit area received in the Earth's orbit is 1,368 W/m 2. This power decreases like the reciprocal of the square of...