Many of our customers believe that Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels only work well where the sun is always shinning and the temperature is always blazing hot. Fortunately for us Mid-westerners, this is not the case. In fact, solar radiation works well for creating solar energy everywhere in the U.S. and even throughout Canada. While the solar radiation in the northern parts of the U.S. is only about 80 percent of what it is in the deserts in the Southwest, the cooler temperatures help make the production more efficient. Therefore, in the end, the actual energy produced is about the same.
If you still have some doubt, Germany – the producer of the most solar energy in the world, has about as much sunshine in the entire county as the state of Alaska!
This efficiency in Northern climates makes sense when you note that Solar Photovoltaic Systems operate through the absorption of the sunlight rather than the heat. Heat is actually a deterrent for capturing energy because all PV Solar Panels become less efficient in heat. The high temperatures lower the amount of power the system can produce. In fact, many Solar PV panels can produce 110 percent of the power they are rated to be able to produce in cold climates. This is how solar panels in Florida and Wisconsin make about the same amount of energy. While the Florida solar panels will see more sunlight, the heat will lessen the amount of output and in Wisconsin, the opposite will occur — less sunlight will result in more output due to the cooler atmosphere. This is how the solar panels on the Space Station operate efficiently, even in -250 degrees Fahrenheit.
In some areas of the country, the amount of solar energy produced may be limited by an abundance of cloudy days. The sun may also be lower in the sky for more of the year in some places. But even with these additional restrictions, a system connected to the grid will still help limit the utility expenses and the panels will still be worth the investment in the long run. Systems that move to change their position to gain the optimal angles to capture the most energy can also be used in these areas to further increase the amount of solar power collected.
The trend of only converting solar energy in states similar to California and Florida is decreasing as more and more customers learn about the benefits of solar energy even in cooler climates.
By the end of 2011, there were more Solar PV cells installed on commercial buildings in New Jersey than in the state of California.
To optimize the amount of energy collected, Solar PV panels should be positioned on a section of the roof facing south. Another option is to install the panels on a pole at a slant somewhere between 20 and 60 degrees. These pole mounted panels can also be used with a movable setup to track the sun’s position to collect the most energy possible.
There are many options available, but our solar experts can help you decide the best configuration of the solar panels on your home or business for your needs. Don’t let cloudy days discourage you, Solar PV panels can pick up solar power from anywhere in the U.S. and free your home or business from the grasp of the electric company once and for all.