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In your research, you’ve probably come across the term “peak sunlight.”
This is important for estimating how much solar power your panels will produce.
But what does it mean?
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about peak sunlight: what it is, averages, how this impacts your solar panels, and more.
What Are Peak Sunlight Hours?
Solar panels capture the sun’s rays and convert them into usable electricity. And while this sounds simple, many factors play a role in maximizing the amount of energy your solar panels produce, including the intensity of the sunlight.
It probably won’t surprise you that the more intense sunlight that your panels receive, the more electricity they’ll produce.
When, over the course of an hour, sunlight reaches an average of 1,000W of electricity per square meter of surface area, this is referred to as a peak sunlight hour.
Peak sunlight hours don’t refer to the time between when the sun rises and sets. Instead, peak sunlight hours refer to the exposure to the sun’s rays in a particular area when the sun’s intensity is at its highest for a certain amount of hours.
When the sun is highest in the sky, typically between midday and early afternoon, solar panels usually receive the most direct angle of sunlight.
What Are My Average Peak Sun Hours?
Now that you better understand a peak sun hour, you might wonder how many you receive on average.
Having this information can help you calculate how much solar power you’ll generate and determine what you’ll be able to power with it.
Below, we’ve compiled an estimate of average peak sun hours by state to help you understand how many hours of peak sunlight you can expect in your area.
- Alabama: 3.5 – 4
- Alaska: 2 – 3
- Arizona: 7 – 8
- Arkansas: 3.5 – 4
- California: 5 – 7.5
- Colorado: 5 – 6.5
- Connecticut: 2.5 – 3.5
- Delaware: 3 – 3.5
- Florida: 3.5 – 4.5
- Georgia: 4 – 4.5
- Hawaii: 5.5 – 6.5
- Idaho: 4 – 4.5
- Illinois: 3 – 4
- Indiana: 2.5 – 4
- Iowa: 3.5 – 4.5
- Kansas: 4 – 5.5
- Kentucky: 3 – 4
- Louisiana: 4 – 4.5
- Maine: 3 – 3.5
- Maryland: 3 – 4
- Massachusetts: 2.5 – 3.5
- Michigan: 2.5 – 3.5
- Minnesota: 3.5 – 4.5
- Mississippi: 4 – 4.5
- Missouri: 4 – 4.5
- Montana: 4 – 5
- Nebraska: 4.5 – 5
- Nevada: 6 – 7.5
- New Hampshire: 3 – 3.5
- New Jersey: 3.5 – 4
- New Mexico: 6 – 7
- New York: 3 – 3.5
- North Carolina: 4 – 4.5
- North Dakota: 4 – 4.5
- Ohio: 2.5 – 3.5
- Oklahoma: 4.5 – 5.5
- Oregon: 3 – 5
- Pennsylvania: 2.5 – 3.5
- Rhode Island: 3 – 4
- South Carolina: 4 – 4.5
- South Dakota: 4.5 – 5
- Tennessee: 3.5 – 4.5
- Texas: 4.5 – 6
- Utah: 6 – 7
- Vermont: 3 – 3.5
- Virginia: 3.5 – 4
- Washington: 2.5 – 5
- West Virginia: 2.5 – 3.5
- Wisconsin: 3 – 4
- Wyoming: 5.5 – 6
How Will Peak Sun Hours Impact Your Solar Panels?
Your solar panels will have a specific rated power, which measures the maximum amount of energy your solar panels can produce per hour.
However, a solar panel will only reach its rated power in ideal conditions — which, of course, rarely exist. Still, the rated power is a valuable metric to determine how much you can expect your solar panels to produce.
For example, the EcoFlow 400W Rigid Solar Panel has a rated power of 400W, and an industry-leading 23% efficiency rating.
The more hours of peak sunlight your panels are exposed to daily, the longer they’ll have to get as close to their rated power as possible.
Here’s a formula you can use to estimate how many watts of electricity you can plan on each panel producing:
P (rated power in Watts) x H (peak sunlight hours) = Total energy output in Wh
Let’s say you live in North Carolina and receive 4 – 4.5 hours of peak sunlight daily. If you had EcoFlow’s 400W Rigid Solar panel, you could expect it to produce 1.6kWh – 1.8kWh of daily electricity.
As you can see, the number of peak sun hours you receive greatly impacts the amount of electricity you can expect your panels to generate.
How Much Sun Do Solar Panels Need?
Your solar panels need as much sunlight as possible to reach their full potential. They’ll deliver the best results while they’re receiving direct sunlight. However, they’ll still generate some electricity even on a cloudy day or during non-peak hours.
How To Take Advantage of Peak Sun Hours in Your Home
Here are some tips to capture every last drop of that solar energy!
- Store More Electricity: Chances are, during peak sun hours, your panels will produce excess electricity — however, that all goes to waste if you don’t have a way to store it. We recommend pairing your solar panels with a solar battery system like the EcoFlow DELTA Pro so you can ensure all the electricity your panels generate gets used.
- Track the Sun: If you want to make the most of every available hour of sunlight, consider EcoFlow’s Solar Tracker to help you capture every drop of solar power possible.
- Leverage Net Metering: If you have a grid-tied system, you can send excess electricity to the grid for credits to offset your utility bills.
- Choose Location Carefully: Even a small amount of shade can impact the amount of power your panels will generate, so make sure you place your panels somewhere they will not be obstructed by shade.
- Optimize Orientation and Angle: Solar panels need direct sunlight to maximize their output. To maximize your available sunlight, face your solar panels at an optimal angle and orientation.
- Reduce Energy Usage During Peak Hours: If you want to store even more of the energy generated during peak hours, make an effort to consume less electricity during that time of day.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Time of Day is Peak Sunlight?
Peak hours for solar radiation occur between midday and early afternoon when the sun is at its highest. During this time, your solar panels benefit from the most direct angle of the sun’s rays.
Knowing the average amount of peak hours you receive is essential when estimating how much electricity you can rely on your solar panels to generate. This figure also helps determine how many solar panels you need in a solar energy system to generate the electricity you need to power your home.
Whatever your needs are, EcoFlow has a power solution for everyone. Browse our selection of solar panels today.