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Global and diffuse radiation


  • Measures global and diffuse radiation
  • Sunshine duration
  • No moving parts, no shade rings
  • PAR reference sensor for SunScan System 
  • Outputs can be PAR (mmol.m-2.s-1), Energy (W.m-2) or Lux

The BF5 Sunshine Sensor is a versatile, multi-purpose solar radiation sensor. It uses an array of photodiodes with a unique computer-generated shading pattern to measure incident solar radiation. A microprocessor calculates the global and diffuse components of the radiation and determines the sunshine state. The BF5 Sunshine Sensor is protected by patents EP 1012633 and US 6417500.

Two analogue voltage outputs give global and diffuse radiation, from which direct and diffuse radiation are derived. The sunshine state is indicated by a digital output. The three outputs can be connected to appropriate channels on the GP1, GP2 or DL2e data loggers, or other loggers commonly used for environmental monitoring. An internal heater keeps the BF5 Sunshine Sensor clear of dew, ice and snow down to -20 degrees C.

Sunshine Duration

The BF5 Sunshine Sensor measures sunshine hours indirectly using a simple equation based on the total PAR radiation (Photosynthetically Active Radiation), and the ratio of total to direct PAR. This sunshine algorithm corresponds closely to the World Met Office threshold of 120 W/m-2 in the solar beam for sunshine duration. The BF5 Sunshine Sensor does not need to be adjusted or repositioned to track the sun – a distinct advantage over devices with shadow rings. There are no complex electro-mechanical assemblies and no burnt paper tracks to interpret.

SunScan Canopy Analysis System

The BF5 Sunshine Sensor can be used as an integral component of the SunScan Canopy Analysis system. The SunScan Probe is a 1 metre long light sensor array suitable for measuring PAR interception by plant canopies and estimating LAI (Leaf Area Index). The BF5 Sunshine Sensor improves the accuracy of the SunScan system and enables it to be used even under variable light conditions.


In addition to its role in the SunScan System, the BF5 Sunshine Sensor’s alternative outputs enable it to be used in the study of photosynthesis, illumination and solar energy measurement.

For building energy management systems (BEMS), the BF5 can be used to control the opening and closing of blinds or louvres in response to sunlight. The BF5’s ability to measure both the energy in the direct beam and also total radiation, makes it possible to optimise the use of natural light and solar gain while minimising glare for the building’s occupants.

Comparison with SPN1 Sunshine Pyranometer

The SPN1 Sunshine Pyranometer is a precision version of the BF5 Sunshine Sensor and although the two instruments have some features in common, there are important differences. These are summarised in the document: “SPN1 and BF5 Comparison Data Sheet”.


REFERENCES: Wood J, Muneer T, Kubie J (Feb 2003), “Evaluation of a new photodiode sensor for measuring global and diffuse irradiance, and sunshine duration” Journal Solar Energy Engineering.

PAR 0 ..2500 mmol.m^-2.s^-1
Energia 0 .. 1250 W/m^2
LUX 0 ..200 klux
Risposta spettrale 400 - 700 nm
PAR ±10 mmol.m^-2.s^-1 o ±15% della misura
Energia ±20 W.m^-2 o ±15%
LUX ±0.600 klux o ±15%
PAR 0.6 mmol.m^-2.s^-1
Energia 0.3 W.m^-2
LUX 0.060 klux
Segnale TTL per durata insolazione
Seriale RS232
n°2 uscite analogiche per radiazione diretta e diffusa
2 x 1.5V AA Batterie Alkaline (durata 1 anno)
Assorbimento 2mA (in lettura)
Riscaldatore 15 W @ 12V DC
Temperatura operativa -20..+70°C (con batterie al litio)
Size & Weight
Dimensioni 120 x 122 x 95 mm
Peso 635 g
2 anni