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Sun penetration north facingwall.gif
Sun penetration south facingwall.gif
Sun penetration key.gif

Sun penetration charts for North and South facing walls with the same window design, that demonstrate the difference in the hours and duration of sun coming in to a space based on orientation. Source: The Weidt Group.

Direct sunlight can be an issue for glare, discomfort, and thermal loads in the building. The orientation of the building plan, the elevations, and the window walls for spaces that are daylit need to be considered carefully. In the northern hemisphere for building sites located north of the 23rd parallel, the north façade is exposed to less abundant but more uniform daylight and presents the least problems for sun penetration in to spaces; the south façade has the most abundant light where direct sun can be relatively easily controlled; the west and east facades have the least uniform daylight and direct sun penetration is very hard to control effectively with passive or static shading devices.

The most common and effective daylighting designs orient the building with major elevations facing north and south, with minimal window areas on the east and west elevations. Rotating the building away from the cardinal directions can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of the daylighting solution. Detailed sun penetration analysis for each orientation and façade condition can be relatively easy to do with computer simulations.

Section Key Resources
  • Electric Power Research Institute. 1997. Daylighting Design Smart and Simple.
  • Moore, F. 1985. Concepts and Practice of Architectural Daylighting. New York. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company.
  • Robbins, C. 1986. Daylighting Design and Analysis. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company.

Lead Author(s): Prasad Vaidya

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