SR30: Solar measurement in cold climates

An excellent alternative to externally ventilated pyranometers in cold climates.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is currently conducting the De-Icing Comparison Experiment (D-ICE) for radiometers at their Barrow, Alaska Observatory. Hukseflux has supplied several instruments for this experiment, including an SR30*. A preliminary analysis by Hukseflux of the publicly available data confirms that SR30 is an excellent alternative to traditional, externally ventilated pyranometers, even in the extremely frosty Alaskan winter! SR30 provides similar performance at a lower cost, lower power consumption and lower maintenance requirements.

Introduction

Accurate measurement of solar irradiance with a pyranometer in cold climates is challenging. Figure 2 shows a typical problem in freezing conditions: ice accumulation on the dome surface perturbs the incoming sunlight and renders the measured data unreliable. We call this a reduction in “data availability”. Dew, frost, rime and snow all have an adverse effect on data availability. Moreover, the extent of these effects can not always be estimated reliably from the data, possibly contaminating the data without you even knowing (shown in Figure 1). It is therefore important to use the right instrument in such harsh conditions.

The SR30-D1 is Hukseflux’ response to these issues. In this white paper, we will use data provided by an independent cold climate test to confirm that the SR30 is an excellent alternative to the traditional solution: externally ventilated pyranometers. In addition, we will highlight several of SR30’s distinct advantages.

* The use of an instrument by NOAA in the D-ICE experiment does not constitute an approval or endorsement. Data used by Hukseflux are taken from NOAA as published on the NOAA website, which is part of the public domain. Conclusions in this report represent the opinion of Hukseflux only.

Find out more about D-ICE on the NOAA website:

https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/arctic/d-ice/

The problems with external ventilation

External heating and ventilation, the traditional solution to operating a pyranometer in cold climates, has several drawbacks. First off, purchase of an external ventilation unit and the accompanying extra maintenance introduce additional costs. Secondly, power consumption is higher and the fan may freeze or get stuck. Finally, application of external heating can lead to offsets for thermal sensors like pyranometers.

A next level solution

Hukseflux SR30 provides a next level solution to pyranometer operation in cold climates. Internal Recirculating Ventilation and Heating (RVHTM) technology (Figure 3) provides the advantages of external heating without the drawbacks.

Heated air is ventilated throughout the sensor, raising the sensor temperature evenly. This prevents ice accumulation while reducing thermal offsets caused by a dome-sensor temperature difference. Also, because the heated air is recirculated, the required heating power is much lower: 2 W versus a typical 10 W for external ventilation. This combination makes SR30 a very attractive and versatile sensor for operation in cold environments.

SR30 is equipped with Recirculating Ventilation and Heating technology.
Figure 3 SR30 is equipped with Recirculating Ventilation and Heating (RVH™) technology. It enables uniform heating of the sensor while reducing thermal offsets.

Case in point: D-ICE

To compare the performance of pyranometers in cold climates, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is conducting the De-Icing Comparison Experiment (D-ICE) at their Barrow, Alaska Observatory. Located more than 500 km north of the polar circle, this is the ideal testing ground for equipment in harsh, arctic conditions (see Table 1 for climate data).

Hukseflux has supplied an SR30 for this experiment, to be tested alongside several traditional, externally ventilated pyranometers. SR30’s performance so far has, in our opinion, been remarkable, as the following data will show.

 

Table 1 Climate data for Barrow, Alaska
polar night 18 NOV – 23 JAN
polar day 11 MAY – 1 AUG
yearly rainfall equivalent 115 mm (desert)
yearly snowfall 960 mm
coldest month

February
avg. low -29.1 °C

warmest month

July
avg. high 8.3 °C

temperature extremes during D-ICE
(SEP 2017 – APR 2018)

9.5 °C on 3 SEP 2017

-38.4 °C on 28 FEB 2018

 

Read the full article here:

SR30: solar measurement in cold climates. D-ICE radiometer testing conducted by NOAA in Alaska (PDF)