Big Sur Solar Power Information & Peak Sun Hours
Solar Green Energy Summary for Big Sur, California
Fixed Tilt Sunlight Hours: 5.1 hours per day
1-Axis Tilt Sunlight Hours: 7.9 hours per day
2-Axis Tilt Sunlight Hours: 8.3 hours per day
The average amount of peak sun hours in a day is a different and more useful number as it relates to solar panels than total sun hours. Total sun hours are exactly what you would expect; the total amount of hours that the sun is out during a 24 hour period. Peak sun hours, on the other hand, are the total number of hours in a day where the sunshine is strong enough to to be absorbed and used by solar panels. Sunlight early in the morning or late at night is often not strong enough to count toward peak sun hours. Because of this, total sun hours will always be less than peak sun hours. Looking at the average peak sun hours in Big Sur throughout the year can help you better estimate the amount of solar panels you will need to power your business or home.
Your latitude is an indicator of when the sunrises and sunsets and certain times of the year. If you live near the equator with a latitude of near zero, the sun will rise and set close to the same time all year resulting in consistent total sunlight hours per day. If you live near the poles, the time of sunrise and sunset will vary dramatically with each season, resulting in long days for part of the year and very short days at other times. So, locations closer to the equator will have more consistent amounts of peak sun hours throughout the year than locations closer to the poles.
Although most things are out of our control, like the sunrise, sunset or the weather, we can control the angle and the kind of mount we use for a solar panel. The angle of the solar panel, if using a fixed mount, should generally be around the angle that is equal to the latitude of the location to maximize output. In the northern hemisphere, panels angles should be lower in the winter months and higher in the summer months As a fixed mount is set, it is ideal to place it at an angle that will capture the most sunlight during the year. A 1-axis tracking solar mount will track the sun across the sky from sunrise to sunset, but the angle will remain the same throughout the day. A 2-axis solar mount will track the sun throughout the day from East to West, but the angle will also change automatically as the seasons change and the angle of the sun in the sky changes. Thus, a 2-axis will have a higher rating of peak sun hours compared to the 1-axis or fixed.
The sun is a great ball of gas that rises and sets every day that the earth rotates while in orbit around the sun. Barring any major disasters this is a very predictable occurance every day. Latitude helps predict this even more, narrowing it down to the minute for sunrise and sunset. But some things aren’t as predictable that will greatly influence the efficiency of solar panels. Weather and cloud coverage for example can greatly diminish peak sun hours on any given day. Thick storm clouds will block a high percentage of the sun's rays, resulting in lower output of your solar panels. Weather needs to be factored into deciding when to use your system, or how much output one expects to get.
The average daily peak sunlight hours in Big Sur, California is 5.1 hours. Use this number when trying to calculate your solar needs in Big Sur. As you can see above, if you were to use a 1-Axis or 2-Axis panel then the daily average would increase to 7.9 hour and 8.3 hours, respectively.