Heliostat Target Efficiency Simulator

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This documentation is part of theĀ Open Sun Harvesting Project.

To make it easier for people to check whether or not their chosen target is efficient, I have written a program which first simulates the angles between the sun and the target and then calculates the percentage of light that is intercepted by the heliostat’s mirror based on those angles.

Make sure that you check out the page How to Maximize Your Heliostat’s Efficiency by Choosing Good Targets before using the program so that you have a good idea of what it is showing you.

Starting the Program

Click here to start the program. (I recommend that you right click and choose “Open in New Window” so that you can leave this documentation open.) After you click the “Graph It” button, you should see the same thing that is in the picture below.

Using the Program

To customize the program for your area, input your latitude, longitude, and timezone. If you live south of the equator, make sure you uncheck the “North of the Equator” option. (I have found that it is kind of hard to click this option if you click in the middle. Try clicking on the upper left hand corner if you have this same problem.) The Northern and Southern Hemisphere Differences in the Sun Tracking / Heliostat Program page explains the difference between the two options.

To choose the time of the year, just fill in the year, month, and day. (The year doesn’t really have that much of an affect, so you can just leave it as it is if you want.)

Some useful dates are…

June 21 (Summer solstice in northern hemisphere / Winter in southern hemisphere)

December 21 (Winter solstice northern hemisphere / Summer in southern hemisphere)

September 22 (One of the equinoxes)

To choose a target, just set the altitude and azimuth for the target.

The default direction for where azimuth = 0 is south.

If you live in the southern hemisphere, you might prefer to to use north as the direction where azimuth = 0. To switch from south to north, just uncheck the checkbox next to “Azimuth = 0 When Pointing South.”

Fair Warning

Keep in mind that this program is just a simulation. It should be accurate, but I do make mistakes.

This documentation is part of theĀ Open Sun Harvesting Project.


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