The concept of probability density frequency, which is successfully used for analyses of wind speed and outdoor temperature distributions, is now modified and proposed for estimating solar radiation distributions for design and analysis of solar energy systems. In this study, global solar radiation distribution is comprehensively analyzed for photovoltaic (PV) panel and thermal collector systems. In this regard, a case study is conducted with actual global solar irradiation data of the last 15 years recorded by the Turkish State Meteorological Service. It is found that intensity of global solar irradiance greatly affects energy and exergy efficiencies and hence the performance of collectors. (c) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.