Increasingly businesses and individuals are investing large amounts in renewable energy power sources like solar and wind energy. Typically the investment required for installing equipment for generating renewable energy is high. Hence it is necessary to find out the exact weather conditions in the place where the solar panel will be installed. Though meteorological solar data is available for most areas, this is data is for large areas, the solar energy received at a particular location where the solar panel is being installed may differ. Hence it is advisable to install a solar weather station before finalizing the location of the solar panel.
The solar energy received at a particular location depends on the solar irradiance at the place and also the number of sunlight hours. Users should be aware that the sensors for measure solar irradiance and number of sunlight hours are different in design and make. While there are a large number of weather stations, only a few weather stations like Davis Vantage Pro two (VP2 ) have a provision for connecting the solar sensors. For each of the sensors the user can choose from the different options available depending on the accuracy, budget and other details
The Davis 6450 solar sensor for sunlight strength measures the global solar irradiance levels , the strength of the sun’s output power in watts per square meter. It monitors the strength or power of the sunshine in a particular area, especially for light in the visible spectrum range. It should be noted that the sensor does not measure the number of hours of bright sunlight received. The sensor can be used directly with the Davis Vantage Pro weather station. The the station can be ordered with the solar sensor in the VP2 Plus models and it is cheaper to do so if the UV sensor is also required, compared to ordering the solar,UV sensor separately.
The solar sensor is compact and can be easily fitted on the weather station. The sensor is mounted on a small shelf next to the rain gauge. In the VP plus model, the solar sensor along with its mounting shelf is pre-assembled. The solar sensor can be installed with the integrated sensor station, it is not necessary to have a station installed. There is a provision for wireless and cable connectivity of the sensor to the main console. In addition to solar power generation, the solar sensor is also used for agricultural applications where the farmer has to measure the sunlight received.
In addition to the sunlight strength, it is also necessary to measure the duration for which bright sunlight is received accurately. For this the Intromet Sunshine Hours sensor is connected to the Davis weather station. This sensor can be used as a standalone unit if required. The sensor has a sensing element located within a glass dome, and the light intensity depends on the shadow which is cast. On cloudy days, no shadow is visible while during bright sunlight, a strong shadow is cast which is detected and recorded. This method of measuring sunlight hours is widely used in solar weather stations.