In a recent article published in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette by Diana Nelson Jones, it was stated that the National Weather Service averages 59 sunny days in Pittsburgh each year. The author of this article has had enough of the bad rep’ that this city gets for its weather. In 2007 Diana Nelson Jones started counting sunny days in Pittsburgh. The average was always in the “150- to 160-day range”. Even noting that in 2012 we had “181 beautiful days,” Jones attributes this misrepresentation to the National Weather Services scientists using “formulas that standardize reporting”.
Now the trick here is that Jones counted days when there were clouds in the sky–something that she notes the National Weather Service does not do. If there are big, white, puffy clouds in the sky the day is ranked as cloudy. They [The National Weather Service] calculate “mean cloudiness from sunrise to sunset- 1/8 being mostly clear and 8/8 being thoroughly cloudy. So Pittsburgh does have a lot of cloudy days. When most people hear cloudy they might think of overcast and rainy days. I don’t know about you, but being from Pittsburgh I know we have many days where the sun is out and shining even with clouds in the sky.
It is unfortunate that Pittsburgh has this reputation as an overcast city (and all of that nonsense) but what is important is solar panel feasibility regardless of cloudy days on our record. Through some research I found that solar panels need daylight to work, not so much sunlight. The heat of the sun is not what matters to make solar panels produce electricity; what matters is the “photons in sunlight.” Even on days when we have cumulous clouds the sun is still out making solar panels still capable of absorbing photons. Of course with clouds in the sky and less sunlight shining through solar panels work less efficiently, about “40 percent.” Better than nothing…
In my opinion if you are looking to invest in solar panels and live in the Pittsburgh area it would be a good decision. We have the weather to support the decision. Even partial solar can sometimes be a viable option, if only for the lower cost than that of a roof covering install. At night using the grid to produce electricity is an appealing way to go. On days where it is raining or no sun can be seen the grid will be there to support your needs. But on the gloriously beautiful sunny days we have the extra electricity produced by our panels to feed back into the grid or credit our account (for now.) There are also solar panel options that are completely off the grid but to be able to use electricity at night would mandate there being some type of energy saving system. Tesla might be working on a solution to that problem as this story is being typed.
Fun Fact: Just within our area I found four different providers for solar panels and solar panel installation.
For more information or the Pittsburgh Post Gazette Article follow these links: