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How Many Hours of Sunlight Do You Need for Solar Panels?

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When shopping for solar power, the general rule of thumb is that you need at least 4‑hours of peak sunlight per day to offset the installation cost. Many decisions can affect that number, but it’s a solid starting point.

Let’s take a look at some of the other factors that could impact the number of hours of direct sun you need, including:

Want to learn if your home could benefit from solar power?

Contact Photon Brothers at (720) 370‑3344 (Colorado) or (805) 351‑3371 (California) for a FREE, customized solar installation plan. Our solar engineers have more than 10 years of experience designing arrays to take the best advantage of the conditions surrounding your home. Plus, we’re proud to offer advanced home battery systems to help you gain even more energy savings, and we offer a 25-year production warranty too!

Solar Panel Positioning

Solar panel positioning determines how much sun you can capture over a day. With the right direction and angle of installation, you can maximize the value of every minute. 

For maximum sun absorption, solar panels should be installed on south-facing roofs when possible. Sun in the northern hemisphere drifts to the south, making this the ideal direction for light capture. Both east and west-facing roofs can work, though at a lower efficiency than a south-facing surface. 

The installation angle is also an important factor for efficient solar gathering. For the best absorption rate, panels need to be perpendicular to the sun, which means an installation angle of between 30 – 45 degrees. When you’re roof isn’t a good option for solar installation, consider a ground-mounted array. While you’ll sacrifice some space for greenery, you can use any sunny spot in your yard to host your panels, provided you clear away the vegetation.

Customizing Your Solar Array

Getting the most out of your solar installation and reducing the hours of direct sunlight needed for your system can be altered by creating a custom array specific to your home. Below, we’ll take a look at how the climate and landscaping around your home can affect how many hours of sunlight you need for solar panels, along with the role your daily routines can play in that customization.

The Climate You Live In

Where you live determines how many hours of direct sunlight you will receive each day. If you get more than 4 hours of sun, you can probably make do with standard solar panels and a good battery storage system. However, if you live somewhere with a lot of cloud cover or sunlight is less easy to come by, you may want to upgrade to panels designed to work better in lower-light surroundings.

Surrounding Trees and Homes

When designing a custom array for home use, your landscaping can determine a lot about your potential savings. If trees cast a lot of shade, you’ll need to work around them to get enough hours of sunlight. You can prune your trees to create sunny spots or place your panels somewhere not affected by your trees. No matter what, you’ll need to plan around them to get enough sun.

Your Daily Routines

Electricity generation is highest during high, direct sunlight hours. That means you generate the most power between 10 AM to 3 PM when you live in the continental United States. If you aren’t home to use the power during that time, you’ll need a battery storage system to keep the power available later in the evening. Most homes use the bulk of their electricity after 5 PM. When designing your system, be sure to take into account your typical patterns of energy usage.

Benefits of a Battery System

A battery storage system is essential when trying to maximize the value of your solar array. These systems allow you to store the energy you generate throughout the day for later use. Battery storage is a great way to get the most value out of net metering (when the electric company charges more for power during peak hours) and a great way to use all the energy you generate. Some of the benefits include:

  • Failsafe backup power – While blackouts may not be common in your area, storms can affect your power access throughout the year. With a battery system hooked into your home, you still have electricity access if the power goes out. 
  • Energy independence – Producing electricity alone is not enough to eliminate your electric bill. To get total independence from the grid, you need a way to store and use energy as needed, which is where a battery system comes into play. 
  • Increased energy savings – With the right solar array and battery storage, you could use entirely self-generated electricity, avoiding the need for a monthly utility bill.

Why Premium Panels Are Worth the Extra Cost

You get what you pay for with solar. How many hours of sunlight do you need for solar panels? It often depends on the quality of the panels. Lower-priced panels can degrade more quickly and perform poorly in extreme weather conditions. Plus, these panels may need more sunlight to produce the same amount of electricity. Premium panels are worth the upcharge because they perform well in all weather and last for decades. With premium panels, you can get long-term warranties that last 25 years and continue to deliver 92% efficiency even after decades of use.

Ready for a high-efficiency solar solution?

Contact Photon Brothers at (720) 370‑3344 (Colorado) or (805) 351‑3371 (California) to find out how much you could save with solar. Our solar engineers will design a custom solar system and give you a FREE upfront pricing estimate. We’re proud to have a perfect safety record, 5‑star quality service, and an unmatched 25-year production guarantee.

Photon brothers Derek Pomar

Derek Pomar

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