Think the Northwest is just too gloomy for solar? Think again!

By Sarah Joy Smith, A&R Solar.

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August 15, 2014 (Seattle, WA) – Believe it or not, the Northwest is actually an ideal climate for solar power. As native Northwesterners we know how hard that can be to imagine, but the system does not work in the way you might think.

It’s our milder summer climate (read warm but not scorching) that makes it possible for solar panels to absorb the light more efficiently. This coupled with what are considered to be long summer days is a big reason solar is an excellent choice in the NW.

Fun Fact: Did you know that because we are north of the 45th parallel that our days, from sun up to sun down, can last from 5am to 10pm in summertime? Even in the southern half of the country, where sun is more prolific in nature, days often last from 7am to 7pm in the summer months.

Even better did you know that solar energy is still collected on overcast days? Us fair skinned people know all too well that clouds are a deterrent, but you can still sunburn on a gray day. Because those sun rays are strong, even at a staggering 93 million miles away. They can easily penetrate any cloud cover and effect the surface of our earth, and us! If they can burn skin at that distance they can also activate your solar panels.

Meaning that although you will definitely collect more solar power on a sunny day, your panels will be working more of the year than you realize. Check out our web info page for some visual information on energy collection in our state. It will surprise you!

IMG_6207Fun Fact: The actual solar panel that sits on your roof is called a PV arrayPhoto = light and photons basically energy particles coming from sunlight; voltaic = producing a voltage or volts. Light producing energy!  (Want to see a visual of this? Click here.)

Now what is the benefit of this? Well simply put, you reduce power costs, or eliminate them, or actually earn credit from the power company. In most cases you earn credit during the summer months when sunlight availability is at its peak. Then in the winter months you use that credit up. (Envision months of bill free power over the holidays and when it’s coldest!  Could you get used to that?)

***The above is a simplified version of how the power company sees this arrangement. We recommend an in house consultation to clarify what terms you would be on with you utility should you choose to go solar.

IMG_4840We agree all that sounds great, but so much more impressive is value of doing the right thing for the environment in the process of lowering your personal costs. Solar is just as green as the northwest. It emanates zero greenhouse gas emissions in its energy producing process. And sunlight as you know is not a limited resource in the way that fossil fuels are, either.

Solar is a move toward sustainability and self-sufficiency that has both integrity and economy at its heart. It’s the right thing to do and a win-win for everyone. The question is not whether or not you can afford to go solar. Here in the Northwest, where is makes so much sense, the true question is how can you afford not to?

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