Rachel Solar Power Information & Peak Sun Hours
Solar Green Energy Summary for Rachel, West Virginia
Fixed Tilt Sunlight Hours: 4.3 hours per day
1-Axis Tilt Sunlight Hours: 5 hours per day
2-Axis Tilt Sunlight Hours: 5.9 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.
Knowing that the latitude of Rachel is 39.5 can be helpful for understanding total sunlight hour variance. As you approach the equator latitude approaches zero. The closer the latitude is to zero, the more consistent the daily sunlight hours are throughout the year. Total sunlight hour consistency simply makes planning for your solar power needs easier, but it is certainly not a requirement.
Depending on your output needs, to get more out of your solar panels you can either upgrade your technology, buy more panels, or buy different tracking type panels. A fixed solar panel remains fixed at one angle throughout the year. A 1-axis panel will produce more output because it follows the path of the sun from sunrise to sunset to maximize sun exposure. Even more productive is a 2-axis panel that not only follows the sun's path throughout the day, but also accounts for the more subtle sun changes throughout the year with the different seasons.
Peak sun hours are greatly affected by weather patterns. Cloud coverage is a huge factor in peak sun hours per day because heavy cloud coverage will diminish the power of the solar insolation. You can use historical climate data to estimate average cloud and weather coverage, but it will obviously vary slightly from year to year.
Using the latitude of Rachel along with historical data of sunlight and weather patterns we can estimate that a fixed mounted solar panel will receive an average of 4.3 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 hours and 5.9 hours, respectively.