December 2, 2022

What Are Peak Sun Hours And How Do They Affect Solar Panel Output?

Solar Energy

Table of Contents:

Among the many factors that should be considered when purchasing a home solar panel system is the amount of intense sunlight it will receive during 24 hours. We call these “peak sun hours” and they represent a window of time during each day when a solar panel system receives the maximum amount of sunlight. This is important because the more sunlight and the more intense it is, the more power is produced.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. Many factors affect the output of a solar panel system, of which peak sun hours are only one. Let’s take a look at what peak sun hours are and their role in producing power.

What Is A Peak Sun Hour?

A peak sun hour is defined as a period in which the sun is at its most intense, usually during mid-day. More precisely, it is the time during which the sun’s energy is capable of producing 1,000 watts of electricity per square meter (approximately 10.5 square feet) during one hour.

This is also the primary measurement used to test and rate solar panels. So, if you purchase a 9-kilowatt solar panel, that means it can produce nine kilowatts of power a during peak period. However, it’s important to remember these ratings represent maximum output under perfect conditions. In addition, it does not account for the system losses that occur due to heat and other physical and environmental factors.

What Are The Peak Sun Hours For My State?

On average, the optimal amount of peak sunlight for a solar system in the U.S. to make sense financially is approximately four hours. However, this may be offset by several factors and doesn’t necessarily mean that less than this is a deal-breaker.

For instance: In New York, the average amount of peak sunlight per day is 3-3.5 hours. However, New York also has some of the highest electric rates in the nation and the state government offers excellent solar incentives in addition to the 26% federal tax credit. When these factors are considered, the cost of going solar becomes very attractive, even though there isn’t as much peak sunlight as there is in other parts of the county.

peak sun hours in the U.S.
Solar Radiation Model

So, what are the peak hours of sunlight for the states that Shine serves? They are as follows:

* Arkansas – 3.5 – 4 hours

* Missouri – 4 – 4.5 hours

* Oklahoma – 4.5 – 5 hours

* Tennessee – 4 hours

As you can see, every area we serve is in the “sweet spot” of peak solar hours per day.

So, Why Don’t My Solar Panels Achieve Maximum Output During Peak?

It’s important to remember there several factors affect solar panel electrical output. Position on the roof, angle towards the sun, shading, season, your home’s orientation, geographical location, and weather all influence how much electricity a solar panel can produce at any given time of day, including during peak sun hours. The type of electrical inverter system used on a solar panel system can also affect output. That’s why even though a solar panel may be capable of producing a certain amount of power during peak, there’s no guarantee that it will be able to do so. And, as mentioned previously, the power output rating of all solar panels is determined by testing under ideal conditions, which may not always be achievable once installed.

Fortunately, all of these factors are taken into consideration for your individual situation when Shine designs a solar panel system. This ensures that you will have more than enough power for your home and enough extra to sell back to your electric utility and/or charge a backup battery system if you own one.

So now that you understand what peak sun hours are, what are you waiting for? Call Shine today at 844-80-SHINE or visit our website at Shine Solar and let us show you how easy it is to virtually eliminate your electric bill and become energy independent. Or, get your free online estimate by visiting Solar Estimate.

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Nick Gorden

Nick Gorden is the Co-founder and CEO of Shine Solar. Nick’s energy, enthusiasm, and leadership is contagious and has contributed to attracting a talented and successful executive team. His time is focused on strategic growth, maintaining profitability and creating the optimal customer experience. Nick has started, managed and sold companies within the communications, mortgage lending, insurance and real estate industries resulting in tens of millions of dollars of market value to investors.

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