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How Does the Sun’s Path Affect the Performance of Your Solar Array?

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Summer is almost here, and with it, longer, sunnier days. During this time of year, most people — especially Michiganders who endure a dark, chilly winter — look forward to backyard barbecues, refreshing pool dips, lazy days on a lake, and more time with family. Unfortunately, higher temperatures and increased humidity also mean expensive electricity bills.

The good news is, if you have a solar array, the longer, brighter days mean you will produce more power, with the surplus resulting in energy credits from your utility company. Solar arrays usually produce more energy during peak summer months than they do in December and January. Especially when designed to take advantage of the sun’s path during this time. Here’s how.

How the Sun’s Path Affects the Power You Produce

The sun’s path is one of the key factors that determine your home or business’s solar array performance. This arc is the path that the sun appears to follow across the sky as the earth rotates. The course depends on both where you live and the time of year and affects both the length of daylight hours and the sunlight you receive in any given season.

In the winter, the sun’s path is lowest, and in the summer, its path is higher in the sky, causing more intense sunlight and longer days. In Michigan, on the longest day of the year, the sun rises between 5:57 a.m. and 6:05 a.m. and sets between 9:13 p.m. and 9:55 p.m. A solar array in Michigan generates the most power in July.

Where Should a Solar Array be Placed to Produce the Most Power?

Where a solar array is placed on your home or business is a crucial aspect of how much solar power it will produce. The best location is one with unobstructed southern exposure. East and West roofs are effective, too, but require a few more panels to create the same amount of power. The way your electricity is billed is also figured into the placement decision. For example, if you are on time-of-day rates (where you pay more for peak power than you do off-peak power), western-facing panels will produce the most when your rates are the most expensive. (How do I access my electric bill?)

Solar panels do work on cloudy days; however, the shade will prevent your solar array from optimal performance. The greatest solar power potential is between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., so your system should not be blocked by trees or other shade-creating obstacles during that time of day. If you are deciding whether to purchase a solar array, you should make sure you don’t have any trees that will eventually grow tall enough to obstruct any part of the panels. Alternatively, you can remove the trees or keep them trimmed to prevent shade.

Regardless of the time of year, Michigan is a great place to install a solar array. Because electricity here costs an average of 0.15 per kW and we receive very low amounts of sun, solar power is 8% more cost-effective here than it is in the rest of the United States.
Michigan Solar Solutions is one of the most experienced renewable energy companies in the state. Since 2007, we have worked with homeowners and businesses to find them the best solar system to suit their needs. We can analyze your site to help determine where a solar array should be placed on your property and provide a detailed proposal for your business or home. We have installed thousands of panels and have a happy customer near you, check out what our customers think of us on Guild Quality.

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