Peak Sun Hours
When it comes to solar energy, it is important to understand how much sunlight you get, as well as what times of the day that your solar panel installation will be producing the most energy. As energy costs continue to go up, and the cost of solar panels continues to decrease, the attractiveness of solar energy as an alternative to a grid connection will become even more enticing, and will save you money.
What do we mean by 'Peak Sun Hours'
Peak sun hours are the hours when the solar panels are operating at the highest level of efficiency. There is a variable amount of solar energy that is generated throughout the day, and this is the result of the shifting sun.The amount of Peak Sun Hours shifts through the seasons, and is also affected by the time of day and the climate that your house is located.If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, late spring, summer and early fall will be the times of the year when there is the greatest amount of peak sun hours. This is because the days are longer, giving you a greater amount of direct sunlight for an extended period of time.This is also the time of year when the Earth is closest to the sun, which allows for more intense solar energy to hit your solar panel installation.During the day, early mornings and early evenings are the times when there is a limited amount of sunlight that can produce energy. The Earth’s atmosphere blocks out most of the light, and makes the light that hits the surface not as direct.Peak sun hours are found closer to solar noon, the time of the day when the sun is at the highest point in the sky. To find this, it is generally possible to identify the time that is halfway between sunrise and sunset.Climate also plays an important role in predicting the amount of peak sun hours you can expect. In climates where there is a large amount of rainfall, it is generally expected that there will be fewer peak sun hours compared to a region where there is limited rainfall.Overall, while most areas receive around 6 to 7 hours of daylight every day, only about half of these are peak sun hours.
How to Predict the amount of Peak Sun Hours
Information on the amount of solar radiation that hits the Earth where you plan to install your solar panels can be found from reliable government sources, while a general solar irradiance map gives a rough idea of how much each region around the world receives in terms of solar energy. A reliable map can be found here.
This is an average amount, and will change throughout the seasons. However, using an average amount is a good way to determine the expected payback of your system, and to determine if solar installations on your rooftop would be a good investment.
Resources to help show the benefits of Peak Sun Hours
This website is organized by experts in the solar energy field, and they look to share the latest information in regards to the design of solar panels, and the method in which they operate and generate electricity.
One of the details provided by PVEducation is a page regarding Peak Sun Hours, which outlines the differences between different regions and cities in the world. This includes areas of the United States, Germany, Egypt, Australia and Africa. This account for the weather, geography and the different seasons, and shows the projected solar potential through each month of the year.
This data on peak sun hours can be useful for interpreting the potential of a potential solar array for your home.
Google Project Sunroof
Project Sunroof uses the mapping technology of Google, and combines information on the amount of trees and geographical considerations to paint a picture of how much energy a solar installation on your roof could produce.
You start by putting in your address, and the program identifies the size of your rooftop, the potential energy received by an installed solar array, and show the average energy production potential per square foot of roof.
It then looks to design a solar installation that reduces the cost of your electric bill as much as possible, while also generating a sufficient amount of energy. Using the data around peak sun hours, Project Sunroof provides you with contact information to connect with a solar panel installer to get started on implementing the system that was determined by Google’s system
To learn more about this interesting program, check out this link.
Considerations of Peak Sun Hours for a Solar Installation
Just because your home is in an area that experiences long winters and has a lot of rainfall or snow, solar power from a rooftop installation could still provide you with economic benefits, especially as energy costs continue to rise.
During cloudy days, the solar panels on your roof will still generate power, albeit at a rate that is 60% to 75% less than on a clear day. However, this energy production does add up over time, and should play a valuable role in reducing your energy bill throughout the year.