A friend asked me if it is it absolutely necessary to use a Feng Shui compass (or a Lou Pan) to measure the facing of a house.
The answer is absolutely not! You can take accurate measurements with any reliable navigation compass that has a straight edge. A compass with a straight edge allows to you accurately align the compass with the door and other points of reference – which I will explain later. It is something that you cannot do accurately with a circular compass. Please refer to the diagram showing the two types of compass.
There isn’t a ‘correct’ answer on how to take the measurement. Different schools have different practices. Some insist on taking a single measurement at the door only while others measure a few feet ahead and behind the door or the facing wall of the house. I will show you how I do it using a an example of a house whose facing direction is the same as the orientation of the main door.
Before we do that, let’s learn how to use the navigation compass (with a straight edge) to measure the orientation of the door. It’s simple. You align the straight end of the compass with the door as shown. Let the magnetic needle settle and then turn the dial on the compass until the points marked ‘N’ and ‘S’ on the dial are aligned with the compass needle as shown. Next read the facing direction off the dial. In this example the facing orientation of the door is 270 degrees.
Once you have learnt how to use the compass, it is time to measure the facing direction of a house. Please refer to the diagram below.
It shows the frontal part of a house with the main door at the centre and two windows at the side. Imagine a line running through the centre and perpendicular to the main door. Next imagine two other lines marked A and B, perpendicular to this centreline, a few feet forward and backwards. There is no rule on how far apart line A and B should be. The objective is to be as far away from objects such as columns and other structures that can affect the reading on the compass.
First take a reading at the door. Then take readings at line A and line B. If the readings are the same at all three locations then that is the facing direction of the house. In practice it is not always like this. You are likely to find the readings at A and B to be similar but different from the one taken at the door. The deviation is usually caused by some metallic object nearby such as the metal grill door or metal reinforcement rods embedded in concrete columns. In my practice, I would use the reading at A or B – since they are similar – as the facing direction.
What if all three readings are different? That is a story for another day!