Applications and Uses of Pyranometers

About Pyranometers

Solar radiation at Earth's surface is typically defined as total radiation across a wavelength range of 280 to 4000 nm (shortwave radiation). Total solar radiation, direct beam and diffuse, incident on a horizontal surface is defined as global shortwave radiation, or shortwave irradiance (incident radiant flux), and is expressed in Watts per square meter (W m-2).

Pyranometers are sensors that measure global shortwave radiation. Apogee Instruments offers both silicon-cell and black-body thermopile pyranometers. Silicon-cell pyranometers are only sensitive to a portion of the solar spectrum, approximately 360 to 1100 nm (approximately 80 % of total shortwave radiation is within this range).

Typical Applications

Applications include incoming shortwave radiation measurement in:

  • agricultural weather networks
  • ecological weather networks
  • hydrological weather networks
  • solar panel arrays

Payero,J.O., S. Irmak | Irrigation Science
Yllop, M.L., A.M. Anesio | Multidisciplinary Journal of Microbial Ecology
Marsh, C.B., J.W. Pomeroy, R.J. Spiteri | Hydrological Processes
Kargar Sharif Abad, H., M. Ghaisi, S. Jahangiri Mamouri, M.B. Shafii | Desalination
Hoelscher, M., T. Nehls, B. Janice, G. Wessole | Energy and Buildings
Petrass, L.A., D.M. Twomey, J.T. Harvey | Procedia Engineering
Shin, J.H., J.E. Son | European Journal of Horticultural Science
Caterian, G.L., R.E. Will, D.J. Turton, D.S. Wilson, C.B. Zou | Echohydrology
Google's Project Loon
Apogee's SP-230 heated pyranometer was selected to monitor PV panels on Project Loon.
Monitoring PV Panels on Jin Jeop Library
SP-110's are integrated as part of a PV monitoring system for a PV power generation facility on the roof of the Jin Jeop library in Korea.
Solar Power Plants on Lakes and Dams
Studying solar radiation at different angles to determine locations for solar power plants.
Irrigation Study
Pyranometer mounted on model train to collect measurements in orchard for irrigation study.
Campbell Scientific

The cosine response and accuracy of the Apogee pyranometer have met the high standards of Campbell, Scientific, on of the world's leader in environmental measurements. Campbell Scientific installs Apogee Pyranometers on weather stations such as the ET106 and other data collection systems.

Colombia Weather Systems

Colombia Weather Systems incorporates Apogee's silicon-cell pyranometer in all of their weather station configurations requiring solar radiation.

"Apogee pyranometers have proven to reliable, accurate, and cost-effective for these professional and industrial weather monitoring applications." -Martha Khoury, Columbia Weather Systems


WeatherHawk weather stations feature Apogee pyranometers for measuring solar radiation. The pyranometer's ruggedness and durability make it ideal for continuous outdoor use, while home users welcome its affordability.