Solar Map Lesson


The Solar Map with Leaderboard shows at a glance the performance of schools in different regions across the country in the most recent 30 minute period - this is largely because of changing time and weather, but also depends on panel direction and tilt, as well as other factors. This is shown through a colour-coded map panel, which can be explored by zooming and clicking on individual schools to find out key information about the system at each school, while ranking the most recent generation of the current Top Ten Schoolgen schools. It ranks the schools in a fair way that takes into account that some schools have more/less panels than others.

How to Use

  • Map (Left panel) - Zoom in to different schools (see if you can find the solar panels on the roof in satellite view). Click on the map icons.
  • Key Details (Middle panel) - Analyse details of the school’s solar array: recent performance, overall capacity in kilowatts, orientation.
  • Top 10 Schoolgen (Right panel) - Lists the top ten schools over the last half-hour.  Click on the school name to view the Key Details. 


  1. Open the Solar Map (opens in a new tab)
  2. Note the time of year/season, day and time of day.
  3. How close are we to the nearest Solstice or Equinox?
  4. What schools have the best performance right now?
  5. Look at the array orientation of these schools - do they have something in common?*
  6. What is the best direction for a solar array in the early-mid morning vs mid-day vs mid-late afternoon?
  7. What is the best roof angle around mid-day in Winter vs Summer vs Equinox?
  8. What effect is weather having at the moment across NZ? Compare map to current weather over NZ.

- Extension -

  1. * Make a polar plot graph of direction and tilt (and show current sun position).
  2. Find the difference between True/Solar North and Magnetic North ?
  3. Investigate your school’s solar potential - identify ‘good’ roofs, measure their facing direction (compared to True North) and the angle of the roof surface, find the area. Use the Schoolgen website (school details) to find what a square meter of solar panel can generate in a year.

Related Activities

Also Investigate solar patterns through TIME!