Solar radiation is an important measurement for many researchers and those who are monitoring their evapotranspiration values for irrigation purposes. If you have been wondering how accurate your solar radiation measurement is, Apogee Instruments (an associated company of Campbell Scientific) has a Clear Sky Calculator mobile app for that, and an online Clear Sky Calculator to help you find out.
For best results, perform the comparison on a clear day with no haze or clouds. The big, fluffy clouds scattered through the sky can reflect sunlight and will affect the solar sensor measurement. Doing the comparison close to noon, within 1 hour, also works best.
For the online version of the Clear Sky Calculator, enter the appropriate Input Parameters for Estimating Solar Radiation. You will notice that the time of day value for this online version must be entered in a decimal format. For example, noon is equal to 12.0 in decimal format. But if it is 11:50 a.m. when you are doing your comparison, you need to convert the Time of Day into decimal format for use in the online calculator.
The following is an example of how to convert the time of day to a decimal format:
So, 11:50 a.m. becomes 11.8333 in decimal format.
Compare the Watts per meter squared (Wm²) value from your pyranometer measurement with the calculated value.
So now that you know how well your pyranometer is calibrated, what’s next?
If the accuracy of your solar radiation data is critical to your application, and the sensor is out of calibration by more than 5%, you may want to consider sending your pyranometer to Campbell Scientific for calibration services.