Today we will be discussing Solar Zone information and how it plays a major factor in which locations are best suited for producing power using solar energy. We will simply be focusing on the United States as all of the custom applications and examples we typically see are American native.
United States Solar Zone Map
Below you will find a graphic designed by our Solar Experts which outlines the basic Solar Zone configuration here in the United States and Canada.
Zones 1 & 2 display the locations with the shortest peak sunlight hours (we will discuss peak hours in detail shortly). These locations are not ideal for producing power using solar energy. Now these locations will still allow for solar energy production, however, you will simply want to utilize a higher number of PV cells.
Zone 3 is the standard location used when designing basic solar fixtures, as 85% of the US will be in this category or above.
Zones 4 & 5 are the most optimal locations for producing power from the sun and feature the highest peak sunlight hours year-round.
Peak Sun Hours
A Peak Sunlight Hour is defined as an hour in the day when the intensity of the sunlight reaches an average of 1,000 watts of photovoltaic power per square meter. When the sun reaches the highest point in the sky, solar energy reaches its peak. The number of peak sun hours per day increases in relation to the equator and typically during summer months.
As you can see below, the peak hours vary rather heavily based on location.
Why is this Important?
While this information is typically pertinent when reviewing a location for larger off grid and grid tied solar generator systems; it can also prove helpful when considering if smaller power stations or solar lighting fixtures will produce acceptable results in your area.
This data can apply to just about any solar based product you may have at home.
Solar Power Stations - Did you recently pickup a Goal Zero Solar Generator for emergency preparedness? If you are in a great solar zone, feel free to go with a kit that features less solar panels and save some cash.
Solar Lighting Fixtures - Just ordered a bunch of Solar Post Cap Lights for your newly installed PVC fence? If your in Zone 1 or 2 be prepared to change out the batteries within a years time.
Grid Tied Solar System - Are you looking into renting solar panels to lessen your electric bill? Make sure you are in a good solar zone and optimize those savings!
Better Solar Zones = longer battery lifespans, faster recharges and cheaper energy bills.
As a custom solar power design entity, we use this information each and every day when creating solar kits for our customers. Remember to always face your solar panels South and avoid any shade producing obstructions. As always, we are just a phone call away (877-548-3387) and are happy to offer our expertise on all of your Solar needs!