Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Our Garden's Solar Window

One of the neat things about instructing for the Illinois Solar Energy Association is that I have access to some pretty neat tools. My friend Jim loaned me a site assessment tool that has turned out to be a pretty neat device for determining the best location for our garden.

The Acme Solar Site Assessment Tool (manufactured appropriately enough by Wiley Electronics), is a tool that basically is a camera mount that is aligned with true South, and then takes seven photos from different positions from east to west. The neat part is the software, that then brings in all of these images and plots the path of the sun across them at different times of the year. It also determines the shading, and calculates the hours of sunlight available throughout the year.

While our backyard is clearly not a useful site for solar panels, I was more concerned with ensuring that we can get at least 5 - 6 hours of sun for our vegetable garden. So I took photos from two locations in our yard - one near the garage (shown above), and one spot near the back porch of our house (shown below).

Based on these sun paths, it looks like the first location, close to our garage, will be the best location for our vegetable garden. That will receive a bit of morning light, and a healthy amount of afternoon sun. Although, in this location, we may still have to sneak a bit of tree trimming on our neighbor's tree. We may also try to put some container-based plants near the porch and see how they do. That way, we can always move them if needed.

In any case, this was a fun way to see how the sun hits our home all year round, and we also now know where the best location for solar panels would be (our roof), should we ever decide to.


joel and stephanie said...

The house looks nice. We are in Chapel Hill but lived on the 600 block of Taylor.

jay said...

Hey thanks for the compliments. It's always nice to meet virtual neighbors - even former ones!

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