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Solar Access Studies

With SOLIDWORKS Professional, you can apply sunlight to SOLIDWORKS models. Using solar access studies, you can simulate the movement of the sun as it passes over models of buildings, solar panels, and outdoor equipment.

You must include the following data when specifying sunlight for a model:
  • The direction of north with respect to the model
  • The geographic location of the model
  • The time and date to simulate

You can create two types of solar access studies:

Fixed date, variable time

Displays the path of the sun on a specific date across a range of time.

Fixed time, variable date

Displays the position of the sun at a specific time of day across a range of dates.

Video: Solar Access Study

Creating Solar Access Studies

Using solar access studies, you can simulate how sunlight that is applied to a model changes over time. To create a solar access study, you must first add sunlight to a model.

To create a solar access study:

  1. From a part or assembly, select the Motion Studies tab (lower portion of the graphics area).
  2. Click Animation Wizard Tool_Animation_Wizard.gif (MotionManager toolbar).
  3. In the wizard, select Solar Access Study and click Next.
  4. Select the solar access study type:
    Option Description
    Fixed date, variable time Displays the movement of the sun over a time range on a selected date.
    Fixed time, variable date Displays the movement of the sun at a selected time of day over a range of dates.
  5. Complete the rest of the wizard and click Finish.
  6. To run the study, after creating the study, click Play from Start Tool_Play_From_Start.gif (MotionManager toolbar).
    The speed of the animation depends on your settings. After you play the animation once, you can drag the timeline to view changes in the shadows as the sun moves.

Adding Sunlight to a Model

The sunlight you add to a model takes location, time, date, and atmospheric conditions into account.

While you can add multiple directional, point, and spot lights, you can add only one instance of sunlight to a model.

Adding sunlight requires the PhotoView 360 add-in, which is available only with SOLIDWorks Professional or SOLIDWORKS Premium.

To add sunlight to a model:

  1. From a part or assembly, click View > Lighting and Cameras > Add Sunlight.
    The PhotoView 360 add-in is turned on automatically if you have not previously enabled it.
  2. In the PropertyManager, for Location, Time, and Date, specify the options:
    1. For North direction, select a planar face or an edge.
      A north direction vector that is perpendicular to the selected face or collinear with the selected edge is projected onto the scene floor.
      Click Flip direction to reverse the north direction by 180 degrees.
      To align the sunlight scene horizon correctly, ensure that the scene floor is parallel to the bottom of the model.
    2. For Location, select a location from the list, or click Specify Location and enter values for North latitude and East longitude.
    3. Enter values for the time:

      Time zone from GMT

      Specifies the time zone for the sunlight location relative to Greenwich Mean Time.


      Specifies the date to apply the sunlight.

      Time of day

      Specifies the time to apply the sunlight.

  3. To set advanced settings such as haze, sun diameter, ground albedo, or sky gamma, click Advanced.
    Click Dynamic help to display detailed help when you move the pointer over the controls.
    These controls affect only the PhotoView 360 preview and final render. Changes to the controls are not reflected in SOLIDWORKS RealView.
  4. Click PM_OK.gif.

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