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Solar Energy Basics II - Estimation of Solar Radiation to a Collector

Harlan H. Bengtson, Ph.D., P.E.

Course Outline

This on-line course provides information about the types of solar radiation data available from a Renewable Resource Data Center (RREDC) website. Three different sources of data from the website are identified. The types of data available, how to obtain the data, and some information on interpretation of the data, are described and discussed for each of the three sources. Several examples are presented to illustrate how to obtain and interpret solar radiation data from the three sources on the RREDC website.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for mechanical, electrical and energy engineers, and architects. This course is intended to be taken after E286 Solar Energy Basics I – Fundamentals.  It will be assumed that anyone taking this course is familiar with the nature of solar energy and some of its fundamental properties.

Benefits to Attendee

An attendee of this course will be able to obtain a wide range of solar radiation and meteorological data from the internet, and will be able to interpret the data thus obtained.

Course Introduction

The type of solar radiation data typically needed for planning and design of solar installations is the rate striking a solar panel or solar collector at a specified location, often as monthly averages.  Such data is available for a number of standard collector/panel configurations, from a variety of print and on-line sources.  Three sources of solar radiation data from the Renewable Resource Data Center (RREDC), a unit of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are discussed in this course.    In the following sections, the types and formats of data available from this website will be described, details for obtaining the data from the website will be given, interpretation of the data will be discussed, and examples of retrieving data will be presented.

Course Content

The course content is in the following PDF file:

Solar Energy Basics II - Estimation of Solar Radiation to a Collector

Please click on the above underlined hypertext to view, download or print the document for your study. Because of the large file size, we recommend that you first save the file to your computer by right clicking the mouse and choosing "Save Target As ...", and then open the file in Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Course Summary

Through the information in this course, one will be able to download publications and access websites to obtain a wide range of solar radiation data for solar collectors and buildings and meteorological data for locations in the United States and throughout the world.  

Related Links

1.  Renewable Resource Data Center homepage for solar resource information

2Solar Radiation Data Manual for Flat-Plate and Concentrating Collectors  (Provides solar radiation values for common flat-plate and concentrating collectors for 239 stations in the United States and its territories.)

3.  Solar Radiation Data Manual for Buildings  (Provides solar radiation and illuminance values for a horizontal window and four vertical windows (facing north, east, south, and west) for 239 stations in the United States and its territories.)

4.  Shining On  (Provides a primer on solar radiation and solar radiation data.)

5.   NASA Langley Distributed Active Archive (DAAC) Surface Meteorology and Solar Energy Data Set  (Provides data for more than 200 satellite-derived meteorology and solar energy parameters.)


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.