Common Sense

OK, so after a long hiatus since i’ve posted anything, here are some basic refutations to a couple of common local objections to solar:

We Don’t Get Enough Sun in Iowa

Answer: We grow lots of corn. Corn needs lots of sunlight to grow. We grow lots of beans. Beans need lots of sunlight to grow. Obviously, we get plenty of sunshine.

Answer: Iowa is on about the same latitude as the south of France. I don’t hear anybody complaining that the south of France has no sun.

The Southwest USA Can Use Solar Much Better Than Us

Answer: True, they get more sunlight hours than Iowa, and they can generate more electricity than we do. However:

  1. They have to wash their panels all the time to get rid of LOTS of dust and crud on the panels which reduces their output – we get rains which wash ours for free! And we don’t have nearly the dust problem that they do.
  2. Solar PV works best when the panels are COLD. The colder the better. They produce less as they get warmer. The southwest is usually pretty hot, so the panels are less efficient than in Iowa. Plus, heat is the enemy of electronics, … like, say … inverters. High heat translates to shorter lifetimes for electronics.

So even though they get more sunlight hours, they don’t have the huge solar bonanza that you might think.

What About Snow?

Answer: Yes, snow can reduce production. If the panels are mounted flat, they’ll probably be covered for some fraction of the winter. Most of our installations, though, have them mounted at an angle, usually 20-45 degrees. If snow does stick to the tilted panels, once the sun comes out (yes, it DOES come out in the winter – more often than you might think – consider how often you get glare off the snow!), the sun melts the snow, it slides off, & your generating capacity comes right back! And more, really, since the panels are cold (see my previous answer).

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