Add Sunlight in SOLIDWORKS
Sunlight is most similar to the directional light, in that they both represent an infinitely far light source where all rays are parallel. The similarities end there however. What sets the sunlight apart is that on your model, you indicate a north direction, a location on the earth, and then a time and date. SOLIDWORKS will accurately locate the sunlight source in relation to your model and take atmospheric conditions into effect to generate realistic outdoor lighting.
Here, we see the sun on this East facing house in Waltham, MA on March 26, 2014 at noon. But SOLIDWORKS didn’t stop there. They took it a step further and gave us the Solar Access Study (SAS). Essentially, the SAS is a motion study showing how the light and shadows change throughout the day or year as the sun moves across the sky. To create a Solar Access Study, click on the Animation Wizard button found in the Motion Study tab in the lower left corner of SOLIDWORKS. Provided you have Sunlight in your model (good thing I showed where it is!), you are given the option of Solar Access Study.
Selecting the Solar Access Study will then give you two options:
- Fixed date, variable time: How does the sun move on a single day, dawn to dusk for example?
- Fixed time, variable date: How does the sun move throughout the year?
Once you have chosen the type you’d like, you can run the study and see the light and shadows cast by the sun. While you can’t get any quantitative light output measurements, the results are very helpful for initial planning of the location of trees, plants, gardens, solar panels, etc..
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