Ohio, the Sunshine State?

7/18/16

One of the common concerns we at Better Together Solar hear about is whether solar in Northeast Ohio is a good invest because of the lack of sunlight. As someone who lives in Cleveland, this statement makes a lot of sense due to the overcast weather. To make matters worse, the winters are oppressively cold and dark. How can there possibly be enough sun for solar panels to generate significant amounts of electricity?

Luckily this isn’t the whole truth. It’s no secret that our winters are dark and cloudy, but our summers really do make up for it. Since we’re so far north relative to the rest of the U.S., our summer days are very long. For example on June 23rd, Cleveland has fifteen hours and ten minutes of sunlight. On that same day, Miami only gets about thirteen hours and thirty minutes of sunlight. For every day between the spring equinox and the fall equinox, Cleveland gets more daylight hours than anywhere that is further south, which really does add up when you consider how clear the sky is in the summer.

 

The seemingly ever-present cloud cover is a valid concern. Northeast Ohio is a cloudy area relative to the rest of America. As a result, Cleveland does in fact receive less solar energy relative to the sunnier parts of the country. However clear skies aren’t necessary for solar energy to be effective; just because we get less sun light than other parts of the U.S., doesn’t mean that we get less sun energy. Northeast Ohio gets 44 hundred hours of daylight a year. Decades of weather data shows us that when you account for cloud cover and the shadows during the beginning and end hours of the day. Cleveland gets about 1,500 hours of peak sunlight. To clarify, a peak sunlight hour is the solar energy equivalent to one hour of sunlight at midday with clear skies or one hour of sun with optimal conditions. That means a fairly standard system with twenty, 300 watt panels would produce about 6600 kWh in a year. That’s enough electricity to power an average home for 220 days.

Solar panels in Cleveland might not have the same production as solar panels in California or Arizona, but that doesn’t mean they’re not effective at producing electricity.

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