How important are peak sun hours for solar?

One of the important considerations when going solar is the amount of sunlight your property will get throughout the year. The peak sunlight hours your area gets will help you estimate the amount of energy your solar energy system can produce in a year. The amount of peak sunlight hours can vary between states and locations. While having more sunlight is always ideal, even states with lower sunlight hours can still benefit from solar.

Understanding Peak Sun hours

Normally, the entire U.S. will have roughly the same amount of daylight hours. Daylight however is different from peak sun hours. A peak sun hour is an hour of sunlight that offers 1,000 watts of photovoltaic power per square meter. This is meant to give an idea of how strong the sunlight is in certain areas. The sun is at its strongest when it’s the highest in the sky, and you’re bound to get more sunlight hours during the summer and at locations closer to the equator.

The effect of peak sunlight hours directly translates to the performance of your solar energy system. With lower peak sunlight hours, the performance and efficiency of your solar energy system will drop. This in turn reduces the effectiveness of your solar energy system in producing energy to cut down on your bills. This can be especially concerning if your system is off the grid, where battery bank systems can only last for so long until they need to be recharged.

What’s the ideal peak sun hours for my solar energy system?

The ideal amount of peak sunlight for your system will depend on several factors: The angle of your solar panels, the cost of electricity in your area, and the sunlight available in your area. While there isn’t a clear-cut answer that applies to everyone, the general idea is to get at least 4 hours of peak sunlight.

What if the peak sun hours in my area are lower than average?

Don’t be discouraged if your location has less peak sun hours compared to other areas. While your solar energy system’s total power output isn’t as high, you’ll still benefit from solar energy. The effectiveness of your solar energy system is measured by the price of electricity in your area, and the amount of energy your system generates. The amount of money you will be able to save over the long term will be the real draw for your solar energy system.

States such as Arizona and California benefit from a high amount of peak sunlight hours. Yet solar benefits those living in low sunlight hour states such as New York and Massachusetts. This is mainly due to the higher comparative cost of electricity in those regions. While solar doesn’t have as much potential energy generation, the energy that is generated can translate to real savings. High-efficiency solar panels are a solid choice in low peak sun-hour areas. Especially considering the higher electricity usage during the winter.

These states are also incentivizing the switch to solar energy with programs that can include tax credits. When combined with a federal incentive like the Federal Solar Tax Credit, switching to solar is much more appealing for residents. Some of the incentives offered are:

How do I find out the Peak sun hours in my area?

To find out the peak sun hours of your location one helpful website is the Global Solar Atlas. The site can display the peak sun hours of a specific location or area. It also has a tool that allows you to estimate the amount of energy your system can produce in a single day or year. This information can help you plan your solar energy system installation and potential energy generation for the coming years.

How do I make the most of my peak sun hours?

To make the most of your peak sun hours, you will need to make sure your system is in the best condition to capture the sun’s rays. The azimuth of your solar panels is set to capture the most sunlight. Take the time to make sure your panels are properly aligned and trim any tree branches that obstruct your solar panels. Have your solar panels cleaned to remove dirt and debris and have checks done to spot any potential issues. While these steps may seem obvious, making sure your system is properly running will keep your system efficient. Installing high-efficiency solar panels can improve the energy generation of your solar energy system, especially in hot climates and low sun-hour locations.

Get started with solar energy today

If you are looking to start your transition to solar energy, we are here to help. Our website also has a free online estimate tool that generates a personalized report for you from a simplified questionnaire. That report will contain the potential savings you can net, and the cost of a solar energy system installed on your property. You can also contact us directly via phone at +1 (602) 363-8919 or via email at Scott@elitesolarenergy.org for more information regarding solar energy for your property.