Brookhaven Solar Power Information & Peak Sun Hours
Solar Green Energy Summary for Brookhaven, West Virginia
Fixed Tilt Sunlight Hours: 4.7 hours per day
1-Axis Tilt Sunlight Hours: 5.3 hours per day
2-Axis Tilt Sunlight Hours: 6.4 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.
The latitude at the equator of the earth is zero degrees. This is where sunlight strikes the earth most directly. Due to the earth's curved shape, sunlight hits at a various angles depending on location. As latitude increases, the further you are located from the equator and more variance you see in sunlight hours. The latitude of Brookhaven is 39.6.
Since a fixed solar panel is set in one position it is ideal to place it at an angle that will expose the panel to the most sunlight throughout the year. This angle is generally the same angle of your latitude which is 39.6 for Brookhaven. You do not need to strategically place a 1-axis or 2-axis panel as much as you do a fixed panel. A 1-axis panel follows the movement of the sun during the day. Additionally, a 2-axis panel also adjusts for the suns various positions in the sky throughout the year.
The sunrise and sunset is very predictable every day, but things like cloud coverage and weather are less predictable and vary daily and annually. If a location that is usually very sunny experiences a huge increase in storms and cloud coverage in a given year than the average peak sun hours for that day or year will probably decrease. Tall objects such as trees and buildings can block out the sun during high solar insolation times, so be sure to strategically place your solar panels to get better efficiency.
Using the latitude of Brookhaven along with historical data of sunlight and weather patterns we can estimate that a fixed mounted solar panel will receive an average of 4.7 hours per day in this area. That number can be increased with better technology including add a 1-axis or 2-axis tracking mount, which would increase the average peak sun hours per day to 5.3 hours and 6.4 hours, respectively.