Field measurement of albedo for limited extent test surfaces

David J. Sailor, Kyle Resh, Del Segura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


A new method is introduced for field measurement of surface albedo. This method consists of the use of a cylindrical shade ring made of opaque fabric with a known (low) albedo placed over a test surface. The albedo measurement is accomplished using two small pyranometers situated so that the downward-facing pyranometer receives radiation only from the test surface and the shade ring. The upward-facing pyranometer simultaneously records the incoming solar radiation. The radiation received by the downward-facing pyramometer is a combination of reflected radiation from shaded and unshaded portions of these two surfaces, requiring detailed accounting of the resulting view factor geometries. The method presented here improves upon past approaches by allowing for smaller sample sizes, minimizing errors associated with reflective properties of the surroundings, and allowing for accurate measurements even under partially cloudy skies. In addition to these methodological improvements we introduce an approach for estimating the uncertainty in the resulting albedo measurements. Results from field measurements are presented to validate the measurement protocol, and to compare its accuracy with the accuracy of a published standard.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-599
Number of pages11
JournalSolar Energy
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Albedometer
  • Radiation view factors
  • Radiative properties
  • Reflectivity measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Materials Science(all)


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