Abstract : Meteosat satellite images are processed to yield values of the incoming surface solar irradiance (SSI), one of the Essential Climate Variables. Two HelioClim databases, HC-1 and HC-3, were constructed covering Europe, Africa and the Atlantic Ocean, and contain daily and monthly means of SSI. The HC-1 database spans from 1985 to 2005; HC-3 began in 2004 and is updated daily. Their quality and limitations in retrieving monthly means of SSI have been studied by a comparison between eleven stations offering long time-series of measurements. A good agreement was observed for each site: bias was less than 10 W/m² in absolute value (5% in relative value) for HC-3. HC-1 offers a similar quality, though it underestimates the SSI for latitudes greater than 45° and less than −45°. Time-series running from 1985 to date can be created by concatenating the HC-1 and HC-3 values and could help in assessing SSI and its changes.