Since solar panels make energy using light from the sun, then it’s natural that they don’t work at night. They also don’t work as well on a cloudy day as on a sunny day.
But is it true that solar panels only really work well enough to make them worthwhile if they’re located in a really sunny area like Arizona, California or Florida? And is there enough sun in Virginia to make solar panels worthwhile?
The short answer is yes, Virginia, there’s plenty of sunshine in the Old Dominion.
From Fairfax County to Richmond to Hampton Roads to the Shenandoah Valley and Southwest, Virginia has more sun than many other areas that actually use more solar power than we do.
Just take the example of New York State which has less sun but more solar power installed than Virginia.
As you can see from the map above, New York gets only about 2.5 hours of peak sun per day while Virginia gets about 3.5 hours a day of peak sun, which is nearly 40% more sunshine.
Why the difference?
It’s surely not the sunshine. There’s plenty of sun even up north to make New York one of the top ten states for solar. What helped them get there was good state incentives and high electricity rates that made solar a more appealing alternative.
Those incentives made a big difference in the past when solar was more expensive. But now incentives in states like New York and California are now being reduced or even going away, making them more like Virginia.
Fortunately, the price of installing solar has also come down, which makes it more affordable in Virginia, where our main incentives are net metering (which lets you sell your extra solar energy back to the power company) and the 30% credit on your federal taxes.
Those incentives combined with a robust solar market have helped Virginia start to catch up with states like California and New York, while at the same time, doing better than states with more sun than we have.
See how these sunny states rank compared to Virginia in terms of solar power installed:
- #22 Virginia
- #28 Alabama
- #42 Mississippi
- #47 Oklahoma
These are just a few of the states that get more sun than Virginia does but have less solar power installed than we do.
The bottom line is that, as long as your area has a basic minimum of sunshine, than you’ll be able to generate enough solar power to make it worthwhile. And if your local authorities offer your citizens help to go solar, then you can get a lot of solar panels installed.
That’s why the country of Germany has more solar power than the whole United States, even though Germany gets about the same amount of sunshine as the state of Alaska.
Germany, like New York and California, does a good job of encouraging its citizens to go solar. That encouragement makes more difference than the amount of sunshine.
Meanwhile, our state has gotten better at encouraging Virginians to go solar. Now we’re starting to catch up with other states. That’s helped bring prices down in Virginia for home solar to the lowest level ever. Low prices in turn have helped Virginia stay ahead of much sunnier states on the Gulf Coast and out West.
Are you wondering if Virginia has made it affordable enough for you to go solar yet? Then get a free solar quote from us today. There’s no cost and no obligation.
— Andrew Brenner, Main Street Solar