Sweetwater Solar Power Information & Peak Sun Hours
Solar Green Energy Summary for Sweetwater, Texas
Fixed Tilt Sunlight Hours: 5.4 hours per day
1-Axis Tilt Sunlight Hours: 6.6 hours per day
2-Axis Tilt Sunlight Hours: 7.2 hours per day
Peak sun hours is one of the most important criteria to examine when considering installing a solar power system. Peak sun hours are different than total sunlight hours in a day because the strength of the radiation of the sun varies throughout the day. For example, during sunrise and sunset the solar insolation from the sun is less powerful than at noon. For a moment of sunshine to be considered a peak sun hour the intensity needs to be at least 1 kilowatt per square meter. This means that a square meter of your solar panel should be receiving 1 kilowatt of energy from the sun. This number is used because it is an amount of light that allows a solar panel to produce output efficiently and not under perform due to lack of sunlight power.
If you’re using a fixed axis and fixed tilt solar panel, the ideal angle of the panel mount should be set at an angle equal to or close to the latitude of the location of the panel. Latitude is a valuable measurement to use when figuring how many daylight hours and the angle of the sun in the sky for your location. Since at locations with a higher latitude the sun will find itself at more variable angles in the sky throughout the year it is important to set the angle of the panel correctly and efficiently capture more peak sun hours. In the Northern Hemisphere the sun will be at lower angles in the Southern sky in the winter, and higher angles during the summer months, so the angle of the panel is crucial when trying to maximize output.
A tracking mount will increase the average peak sun hours for a solar power system. Think about a panel that is tracking the sun in the sky vs a panel that is fixed and not moving: you will see a higher efficiency ratio of productions. A 1-axis mount will track the sun from East to West from sunrise to sunset and move on a single axis of rotation. A 2-axis mount will track the Sun from East to West the same as a 1-axis mount would, but it will also track the angle of the sun in the sky as it slowly varies season to season. A 2-axis mount is more necessary in high latitude regions where the angle of the sun in the sky changes dramatically between each equinox.
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.
In Sweetwater you can look at the average peak sun hours of a fixed solar panel mount, which will be 5.4 hours. This number iis an estimate based on data of previous years. With a tracking mount in Sweetwater you could theoretically increase the amount of peak sun hours per with a 1-axis mount, and get 6.6 hours, or a 2-axis mount and potentially increase your average to 7.2 hours.