How to Assess a Site for Solar Potential

Below is a video we made to help people assess a home site they are looking at before they buy.  This is a simple demonstration of using google earth and the sun tool application on your computer to evaluate your building site when designing and building a new home, particularly a passive solar home.

However, Google Earth’s Sun Tool can be used for a many other purposes, relating to home design or not. When designing a new home from scratch you use the Sun Tool to consider the direction that the sunlight will coming from and going. Where is sunrise and sunset? Where is the sun at noon at summer solstice and where is it at noon at winter solstice. For passive solar design, in the northern hemisphere, you want unobstructed southern sunlight during the winter.

With the Google Earth Sun Tool, you can quickly see if your potential building site will be cohesive with passive solar design. Will the winter sun rise far enough over the mountain or buildings to the south? Does the sun shine into the bottom of a canyon? How long does the sun hit the building site? You can use this information to begin to design your home to use the sun’s qualities to your advantage or to minimize the sun’s negative effects.