When buying a home, many of our homebuyers will ask, “Where is the sun?” The immediate answer is “look up and see!” However, it is a bit more complicated than that.
It’s essential to know where the sun is relative to the home you are thinking about buying. Where and how much natural sunlight illuminates the home throughout the year affects a variety of factors. Those factors include how much snow you will shovel off your driveway, solar access for your solar system, solar access easements, electricity and utility consumption levels, the amount of natural light in your rooms, types of lighting and window treatments, outdoor living spaces, landscaping, and more.
The days are getting shorter, and fall colors are here! On the Front Range, the sun falls behind the mountains early on a winter day. The closer the home is to the mountains, the more likely it is to be sitting in what we call the “early sunset zone”.
Luckily, nowadays, you can do more than just “look up” at the sky to determine all you need to know about the sun’s orientation relative to your home. Sun Seeker is an app you can add to your smartphone or tablet. Here’s the app’s description:
“Sun Seeker is a comprehensive solar tracking & compass app. It shows the sun’s hourly direction intervals, its equinox, winter & summer solstice paths, sunrise sunset times, twilight times, sun shadow, the golden hour & more. The app allows you to add sun-event notifications & has a widget showing the day’s solar data & position on an arc. The surveyor view shows the solar direction for each sunlight hour. Sun Seeker has both a flat compass view & a 3D Augmented Reality (AR) view to show the solar position & path.”
This app has many uses for real estate, including homebuying, homeselling, and homebuilding. I think the most obvious is determining how much sunlight will shine into your home on the shortest winter day. It can help you determine at what time a west-facing patio will cool down in the heat of summer or figure out the best spot to plan a shade tree to protect the patio. Obviously, the snow on south-facing driveways melt the fastest, but you can figure out how much sun the home will receive from other exposures. For example, the app can help you determine the best spot to locate your garden.
If you are building a home, the app can help you decide where to place windows, determine roof angles, solar system placement, porch locations, and much more.
When selling your home and preparing for photographs and video, the app will help you determine the best sunlight times and direction.
How does it do all this?
The Sun Seeker app describes how it works:
- Sun Seeker is a sun locator which uses GPS, magnetometer and gyroscope to find the correct solar position and sun path for your current location.
- Flat compass view shows current solar position, diurnal solar angle & elevation (separated into day & night segments), sun shadow length ratio, atmospheric path thickness.
- 3D augmented reality (AR) camera overlay view shows the sun’s current position, its path with hour points marked. Check golden hour using this feature!
- Camera view has an optional pointer to guide you towards the current location of the sun & help you with sun direction.
- Map view shows solar direction arrows, sun path & elevations for each hour of the day.
- Choose any date to view the sun position & path on that day. You can view sunset & sunrise times for each day as well.
- Choose any location on earth (includes 40,000+ cities or custom locations available offline, as well as a comprehensive online map search capability)
- Get additional details including sun rise, sunset & culmination times, maximum elevation, civil, nautical & astronomical twilight times of the sun.
- Optional device notifications for all manner of sun-related periods & events, such as golden hour or blue hour, various twilight & shadow periods, or sun at a given compass heading or above a given elevation.
- This sunrise calendar app allows the user to include equinox, summer & winter solstice paths on both flat compass view & camera view.
Your Realtor® and architect can help you determine everything you need to know about sunlight and your home.
By Duane Duggan. Duane has been a Realtor for RE/MAX of Boulder since 1982. Living the life of a Realtor and being immersed in real estate led to the inception of his book, Realtor for Life. For questions, e-mail [email protected], call 303.441.5611 or visit boulderco.com.