Solar spectral irradiance measurements on a routinely basis are relevant to study the influence of solar spectrum on the photovoltaic (PV) module performance, especially for thin film and third generation PV. Two spectroradiometers from EKO were added to the instrumentation available at the ESTER outdoor station of the University of Rome Tor Vergata. A detailed characterisation of the spectral irradiance at the site was carried on during more than 6 months of monitoring activity measuring spectral solar irradiance in the range 350–1700 nm with a time interval of 10 min on a horizontal plane. A wide variety of spectra were acquired in various weather conditions, and indications about the spectra behaviour on a daily and seasonal basis were obtained. Moreover, information about the effect of the weather conditions on the solar radiation spectral distribution were identified. The Average Photon Energy index was used as an indicator of the spectra characteristics. The same index was also used to evidence the solar spectrum influence on polycrystalline and double junction amorphous silicon PV modules. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.