Solar Pathfinder with Case, No Tripod

Gives an entire year's solar potential for a given site in just seconds!
$250.49 List price $270.53
  Customer Reviews (1)

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Free instructional DVD included! Or you can watch it here!
Solar Pathfinder no longer provides a printed version of their manual. Click here to view it.


Solar Pathfinder
Solar Pathfinder with Case



The Solar Pathfinder™ gives an entire year’s solar potential for a given site in just seconds. This non-electronic instrument is ready-to-use upon receipt of shipment.

photoKit Includes:

  • Printed Manual (online version also available)
  • 20 Sunpath Diagrams (latitude & application specific)
    • Pathfinders being shipped to USA addresses will be "prepackaged" having:
      5 - 25-31 degrees N. Latitude Southfacing
      5 - 31-37 degrees N. Latitude Southfacing
      5 - 37-43 degrees N. Latitude Southfacing
      5 - 43-49 degrees N. Latitude Southfacing
  • Angle estimator (for determining altitude and azimuth)
  • White marking pen with extra leads (for marking on the Sunpath diagrams to create permanent records)
  • Tool box specifically designed for the Pathfinder™
    • secures Solar Pathfinder™ unit, pens, tripod    
    • generous space for manual, Sunpath diagrams, other supplies
    • rugged enough for job site and truck
(No tripod.)


Any scientific analysis is only as accurate as the least accurate input. Gross errors in structure orientation, solar system sizing, collector placement, component specification, and scientific studies can result when designers/engineers fail to accurately assess shading patterns t proposed building/ecological sites.

By combining the site-specific shading data of the Solar Pathfinder™ with the published solar radiation figures (by NREL for USA), an accurate solar site analysis can be made. This insolation data, on an hourly and monthly basis can then be applied to architectural, engineering, solar, and ecological applications.

The Solar Pathfinder™ is non-electronic. Simple and straight-forward in its engineering, it requires no special skills or technical know-how. One simple tracing does the job and becomes the permanent record for the solar data. When properly cared for, the unit will give the user years of accurate site analysis.


The Solar Pathfinder™ uses a highly polished, transparent, convex plastic dome to give a panoramic view of the entire site. All the trees, buildings or other obstacles to the sun are plainly visible as reflections on the surface of the dome. The sunpath diagram can be seen through the transparent dome at the same time. This diagram is latitude specific [the further away from the equator, the lower the sun will be in the sky, thereby making the sunpath further from the center of the unit] and shows the sun’s average path for each month. The rays of the diagram depict solar time. The diagram itself is therefore calibrated to give solar insolation data for all the hours of the day and all the days of the year. The diagram is also specific to the application: “South-facing” (for Northern hemisphere) or “vertical” is for applications of 20-90 degrees tilt – usually solar; “Horizontal” is for applications of 0-20 degrees tilt – usually ecological.

Because the Solar Pathfinder™ works on a reflective principle rather than actually showing shadows, it can be used anytime of the day, anytime of the year, in either cloudy or clear weather. The actual position of the sun at the time of the solar site analysis is irrelevant. In fact, the unit is easier to use in the absence of direct sunlight. It could even be used on a moonlit night.

The Pathfinder has an integral bubble level and magnetic compass to facilitate quick instrument set-up. The unit and diagrams are engineered to adjust for magnetic declination to face “true south” (for Northern hemisphere), not “magnetic south”. A locking mechanism secures the adjustment.

Once the Solar Pathfinder™ has been properly set up, the user traces the outline of the horizon’s reflection seen on the dome onto the underlying diagram by inserting a white marking pen (included) through the slots on the side of the unit. The traced line shows exactly at what hours of the day and months of the year an obstacle will shade that particular location. The picture below shows a Solar Pathfinder™ being used at a typical solar site. Notice how the reflected image of the tree-line is sighted coincidentally with the diagram below it. The diagram, also pictured, is a site tracing of the same site. The tracing becomes a permanent record of the solar data.


Customer Feedback

Use for locating greenhouse or sunroom
by Ron P on Nov 3, 2006

By using the Pathfinder this afternoon I see I have 2 good sites in my backyard for a greenhouse, and I also see I could add a workable sunroom to my house. I feel that the Pathfinder paid for itself already. If my backyard turned out to have too little winter light, then I would have taken the Pathfinder and my camera with me when I went house hunting!

"Must have" piece of gear for solar installers!
by Joe Schwartz -- CEO & Tech Editor of HomePower Magazine on Nov 3, 2006

The Solar Pathfinder is a must have piece of gear for every installer's tool kit!

Graphic display
by Dean Moffatt -- Architect, Sundesigns Architects on Nov 3, 2006

Unsurpassed for the professional analysis of solar characteristics at any proposed site and for a graphic display to clients.

Great tool for certified solar site assessors
by Clay Sterling -- MREA on Nov 3, 2006

We have found the Solar Pathfinder to be a simple, straight forward tool for training certified solar site assessors. The Solar Pathfinder provides all the answers for the people in the field and the home owner.

Clever engineering!
by Ron Thornton -- Physics Dept., Tufts Univ. on Nov 3, 2006

Clever engineering for functional low cost!

in use


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Solar Pathfinder


This is the favorite of many old time solar professionals, and it does work. The quality of the product is below average, the outline of the obstructions is not always easy to view, and the dome is easily scratched; what you are paying for is the concept, since the product itself is only worth a ...
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