The Energy Matters Solar Analyser is designed as a pre-screening tool for determining the suitability of a site for a solar power installation, but it can also be used to estimate output of existing systems.
Although designed primarily for the iPhone 3GS, Solar Analyser will work with relative accuracy on the iPhone 3G and iPod Touch. While the compass hardware is not available in the older iPhone 3G, (and neither compass or GPS functionality are available on iPod Touch), Solar Analyser is still capable of providing useful results with these devices.
Energy Matters' Solar Analyser is an iPhone based site evaluation tool, providing full solar site analysis and is absolutely FREE to Australian users.
NOTE: Solar enthusiasts outside Australia can use the Sun Tracker App from iMeasure Systems.
Solar Analyser makes the most out of the iPhones 3GS’s features. The compass and inclinometer functions, together with the built in GPS, has enough processing power to handle complex sun positioning algorithms.
Solar Analyser can perform shade analysis in seconds. It is simple to use, quick to deploy, and features once-only calibration and minimum site set-up time. Since it is built into your phone, it requires no extra hardware.
Using a built-in climate database, the Solar Analyser provides a realistic estimation of the solar availability (peak sun hours) at a location, taking into account the local shading. It also supports fixed, single and dual axis tracking systems.
The Energy Matters Solar Analyser includes a large database of solar panel and inverter models and will even calculate the $/month production of the proposed site under standard electricity rates or feed in tariffs.
The Solar Analyser generates a personalised PDF site survey summary including a graphical presentation of data and easy to interpret site information. The report information includes:
Solar Analyser allows you to e-mail the report for record keeping, for analysis by Energy matters, or to request a quote for a grid connected solar system.
Energy Matters welcomes enquiries relating to solar power systems, but support relating to the use of the Solar Analyser is only provided via the Energy Matters Forums
Before calculations can begin, the iPhone must be calibrated work accurately with Solar Analyser. This once-only calibration will ensure accurate measurements are made allowing accurate site data collection.
On opening the Solar Analyser application, enter the setup menu (top left of the home screen) and press the calibrate button (top right of the setup screen) and follow the on-screen instructions.
When opening Solar Analyser, the application will automatically find your location using the built in iPhone GPS. iPod Touch users can fill missing values manually, using an online maps service to ascertain latitude and longitude.
Using the menus at the bottom of the Setup screen, fill out the following menus:
Locate yourself on the roof or area the solar array is most likely to be mounted. Solar Analyser uses the skyline from this point on the roof to establish potential shading from buildings or trees that could be detrimental to solar performance. If potential shading is expected, position the iPhone closest to the end of the array most likely to be shaded.
(NOTE: Complete these next couple of steps only if you have an iPhone 3G or iPod Touch - iPhone 3Gs users should just click the "Skyline Scan" button (top left of setup screen) then follow the steps AFTER the Skyline Scan screenshot image below)
When in position, use the iPhone 3G or iPod Touch camera to take a single image of the skyline from the solar array’s perspective. If the solar aspect is wide and unimpeded, an iPhone image stitching application could be used to increase the width of the shot (this is not compulsory, but will better demonstrate the full visual skyline).
Now return to the Energy Matters Solar Analyser application and click Skyline Scan (top left of setup screen).
Observe the solar aspect for any obvious trees or buildings blocking early morning or late afternoon sun. Using the East/West limit button Slide the East and West markers to approximate the beginning and end of the ‘solar window’ as measured in degrees.
Use the Skyline Trace button on the Skyline Scan screen (bottom left of setup screen) to begin the trace process.
Note: If your Skyline Scan screen tool bar just contains a row of arrows, click the "Done" button on the right hand side, which will then take you to a screen similar to the above.
Starting at the “sight” screen, familiarize yourself with the crosshairs. Note: iPod Touch users will only have access to the "Across Face" inclinometer method of scanning, not the crosshair method. However, if iPhone users find the glare on the screen or camera is too great the "Across-Face" method can be used by entering the Setup screen and turning off the "Heads Up" sight switch.
Point the crosshairs (Heads Up method) or arrow (Across Face) at the right hand starting point of your skyline. Heads Up users will need to press Start, but for Across Face users, the scan will commence automatically.
|Crosshairs (Heads Up
function 3G and 3Gs)
|Across Face method for iPod Touch. iPhone users can also select this method in setup.|
Slowly trace (keeping above 0°)
from right to left the outline of buildings and trees visible in the skyline and
press ‘finish’ when you reach the left hand limit of the solar aspect. A
typical scan takes about 15 seconds
For iPhone 3G and iPod Touch users, if required, then use the Nudge and Image Underlay buttons to adjust the Skyline Trace to match the sun’s curve and position. The image will add a level of realism to the trace, further confirming the accuracy of the Skyline Trace. Please note that if using an image underlay, it will greatly increase the size of the final PDF report.
Once the Skyline has been established, Solar Analyser will present a sun path plot, showing today's estimated solar trajectory together with an animated sun (manipulate the sun’s positions using the Simulate sun path, Pause sun path, and Reset sun path buttons). This demonstrates the sunrise and sunset for the time of year, and the elevation achieved by the sun at midday. When in the default Viewing Mode, Solar Analyser also shows the sun path for the summer and winter solstice.
Once a Skyline Scan and all other data entry is complete, press “Analyse” to start the calculation process. Please note: The analysis can take up to 40 seconds.
Handy tip: If you want a record of this or any other screen just press the iPhone top right button and home button together. That will execute a screen capture that will be saved in your iPhone photo album.
At this point you may decide try a different location or you may wish to change the panel tilt & azimuth. To summarize and save the current results press “Report” to view the full analysis.
Press “Preview” to preview the report on screen or “Email Report” to send a copy of the PDF report via e-mail. Please note that if using an image underlay, it will greatly increase the size of the final PDF report.
The iPhone camera has a view angle of 60° by 40°. Solar Analyser works best when the user takes photos in the portrait orientation, this means that the user can cover 60° of elevation. After the photo has been imported to the trace background, the user can then use a known reference (such as a tree) to correctly align the image. In some cases (where sunlight obstacles are numerous), it is desirable to have a wider image (a panorama) that covers the full sun path from east to west.
Some applications known to capture panoramas are AutoPan and AutoStitch.
Once you have your site information, you can use Energy Matters' online quoting system to receive an obligation free instant estimate!