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Choosing the correct site to install a solar panel can greatly impact its power output. Obviously, a solar panel in an open field will receive more power than one in the shade of a forest. The sunís path varies significantly throughout the year and it can be challenging to understand when an area will be shaded during different seasons and what impact the shade will have on the overall production of the solar panel.

The solar pathfinder is used for shade analysis. Any trees or other objects that could cast shadows on a particular area are reflected in a plastic dome, clearly showing shading patterns at the site. An underlying diagram includes data on time of year and sun angle. Using a wax pencil, student will trace the reflected shadows on the sunpath diagram, giving an indication of the sunlight expected at different times of year and day. With this information, students will assess site suitability for a solar panel placement.


We are looking for a place to install newly purchased high efficiency solar cells on a platform. The platform is approximately 3 feet tall and can only be mounted on the ground. Unfortunately, the platform does not offer any tracking (or tilting) and can only be mounted parallel to the ground. According to the architects, the solar cells on a platform can only be installed in 10 different locations around Baskin School of Engineering. The figure below illustrates approximate locations. Please help us to determine the best place to install the newly purchased solar cells.


NOTE There is no sound in the videos.
  1. Please ask your TA to assign you and your partner a location.

  2. Please watch the video and follow along.

  3. Please watch the video and answer the questions after.

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Thank you for participating in this laboratory experiment.

Please answer the following questions. Your answers will not be graded.

The laboratory experiment procedure may contain parts of Solar Pathfinder Instruction Manual to assist students in assembling and using Solar Pathfinder products, manufactured by Solar Pathfinder.