Difference between Pyranometer and Pyrheliometer

A pyranometer and a pyrheliometer are both instruments used to measure different aspects of solar radiation, or sunlight. However, they measure different components of sunlight and are used in different applications.

The main difference is that pyranometer measures total solar radiation while pyrheliometer measures direct solar radiation.

Before we move to the differences, let’s understand what are Pyranometer and Pyrheliometer:

  • Pyranometer: A pyranometer is an instrument used to measure the total amount of solar radiation that falls on a horizontal surface, including both direct and diffuse radiation.
  • Pyrheliometer: A pyrheliometer is used to measure the direct normal irradiance (DNI) or direct beam radiation, which is the amount of solar radiation that is received on a surface that is perpendicular to the sun’s rays.

Pyranometer vs Pyrheliometer

Now, let’s move to Pyranometer vs Pyrheliometer:

Major differences between Pyranometer and Pyrheliometer

Pyranometer Pyrheliometer
A pyranometer measures both direct and diffuse radiation. A pyrheliometer measures only the direct radiation.
A pyranometer is more commonly used in weather stations. A pyrheliometer is often used in solar energy studies or research.
A pyranometer is typically used to measure daily or monthly solar radiation levels. A pyrheliometer is used for more precise measurements of solar radiation for shorter time intervals.
Pyranometer is less expensive than Pyrheliometer. Pyrheliometer is more expensive than Pyranometer.
Pyranometer measures radiation from all directions. Pyrheliometer only measures radiation from the sun.

That’s it.

Note that sometimes, the question might also be asked as “distinguish between Pyranometer and Pyrheliometer”.

Also see:

Final words

Pyranometer and Pyrheliometer are both devices used to measure solar radiation, but they measure different aspects of it. Pyranometer measures total solar radiation, while Pyrheliometer measures direct solar radiation.

Understanding these differences can help us choose the appropriate device for our specific measurement needs.

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