South Plains Solar Power Information & Peak Sun Hours
Solar Green Energy Summary for South Plains, Texas
Fixed Tilt Sunlight Hours: 5.2 hours per day
1-Axis Tilt Sunlight Hours: 7.4 hours per day
2-Axis Tilt Sunlight Hours: 7.9 hours per day
Peak sun hours are a vital measurement to understand when considering the installation of solar panels. Peak sun hours are not the same as total sunlight hours because not every hour of sunlight during the day has enough strength and solar insolation to qualify as a peak sun hour. The rule of thumb is that a peak sun hour is when the intensity of the sun that is hitting your solar panel is providing at least 1,000 watts per square meter. This is an arbitrary number, but it is a number where most solar panels will be producing an efficient output and not underperforming due to sunshine that is not strong enough or direct enough.
Although you can easily predict sunrise and sunset hours each day to the minute, looking at latitude can help with your solar planning. The closer you get to the equator the closer your latitude gets to zero. Sunlight hours on the equator are consistent throughout the entire year. Places further from the equator can have large variance in daily sunlight. For example higher latitudes can have very long summer days with lots of sunlight and very dark winters. The latitude of South Plains is 34.2.
You will notice that the average peak sun hours for South Plains change based on the type of panel being used. The reason for this is quite simple. A fixed panel does exactly what it sounds like, remains fixed in one position at all times. A 1-axis and 2-axis panels have axis that allow them to rotate. The 1-axis rotates with the sun's daily east to west movement while a 2-axis also adjusts for seasonal changes.
Weather is a big determinate of average peak sun hours each day. There are many aspects of weather that can increase or lessen the peak sun hours in a day in a particular location. For example cloud coverage is a crucial variable. And more importantly, what type of cloud coverage; thin scattered clouds will have less diminishing power on the solar insolation than thick rainy storm clouds. Sometimes long periods of sunny days are rare in certain locations, this would increase average peak sun hours for that time-frame
In South Plains the average yearly peak sun hours for a fixed tilt non-tracking solar panel mount is 5.2. This is for a fixed panel mounted at an angle that is equal to the latitude of the location for the entire year. The amount of peak sun hours increases to 7.4 hours if you are using a 1-axis panel, and to 7.9 hours if you upgrade to a 2-axis solar panel.