Planning your Shade Sail – Direction of the Sun

I’ve been designing shade sails for so long now, that I take it for granted that the movement of the sun is the first consideration to take into account when the initial plan phase commences. And it’s also pretty easy for me in my home town to orient my north south east west directionals, purely on experience. But the sun’s movement is different in the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere, so here’s a pretty basic method for working it out relative to your situation.

Pick 4 different times of day – say, 9am, 11am, 2pm, and 5pm – and have a look at exactly where the sun is each time. It rises in the east and sets in the west no matter where you are, so you can work out your east and west pretty easily.
At the height of summer, the sun will be virtually directly above you at around 12pm. However, remember that the sun only reaches this position for a short time, and then moves back in the sky away from you as you move towards autumn. In the northern hemisphere, this means the sun is moving north as it gets into the hotter months, and south for the cooler months. Here in the southern hemisphere, it’s the exact opposite.
So why do you need to do this? Well the shade sail is required for shade, and shade is generally needed in the warmer months, and for the hotter times of day. Orienting a high post on the western most part of the structure will mean that the sun beats in underneath the sail at the hottest late afternoon time of day. Plan your positioning and sail layout knowing the sun’s movements, to ensure that the sail is effective in casting shade for as long as possible, during the months when it’s most needed.
I’ve written the “Complete How-to Guide” for DIY Sail Structures, which is available for FREE download from my website at Sail Shade World Australia or if you are outside Australia, from our international website at Sail Shade World International. Check it out for more tips and tricks.
Catch you next time!

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