Which Area Receives the Least Amount of Solar Energy?

Are you wondering which area of the country gets the least amount of solar energy? You are not alone. Before the pandemic, many Americans were thinking about taking a road trip or going on a vacation to the southern states. However, with most people confined to their homes, many are turning to their rooftops for entertainment. While there is no exact figure available, studies have shown that between 3 p.m. and sundown, the region receives the least amount of sunlight. From the moment the sun touches the horizon to the time it sets, Southern states get only four hours of continuous daylight. As a result, most of the nation’s solar capacity is located in the northern half of the country. Because of this disparity, it is important to take into account several factors when endeavoring to understand which area of the country receives the least amount of solar energy. These factors include latitude, altitude, and proximity to large bodies of water. In this article, we will detail each of these factors and how they influence the solar energy collected in a particular region.


Latitude is a measure of the degree of north and south that a point is displaced from the equator. In general, the closer a location is to the equator, the longer the days get in the summer and the shorter the days get in the winter. In fact, a place exactly on the equator has to cross 24 hours of daylight per day in the summer and the same amount in the winter. This makes the location an ideal place for solar energy collection.

In the Northern Hemisphere, locations at higher latitudes collect less solar radiation than those at lower latitudes. In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite is true. For example, in the extreme northern parts of the hemisphere, above the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t even rise at all during the summer months. This means that the area doesn’t receive any direct sunlight during the hottest part of the year. As a result, the temperature stays relatively constant, hovering around the freezing point. Only when the sun starts penetrating the atmosphere above the Arctic Circle does the temperature begin to rise. This is why most places at extreme latitudes are found in the Arctic or Antarctic Circles.

In the United States, Massachusetts and Vermont have the highest latitudes in the country, with the former having the additional distinction of being the first state to receive a direct hit from the sun during the winter solstice. In fact, residents of these two states can experience long periods of cloudy weather during the summer months. However, as these locations are near the north pole, the days are extremely long and, therefore, extremely bright during the summer months. This being said, during the winter, the sun doesn’t even rise above the horizon, resulting in an absence of sunlight and an increase in local temperatures, which can cause serious winterization problems for those living there.

On the other end of the spectrum, a location at 40 degrees latitude would have days that are only 6 hours long in the winter and 10 hours long in the summer. This is because the sun is at its lowest point in the sky, which means that it is directly above you at noon. As a result, the days get progressively shorter as you go south, until you reach a point below 30 degrees latitude, where the days shrink to a mere 2 hours.


Altitude is a measure of the distance from sea level to a location. In general, the farther a location is from sea level, the more solar energy it collects. Think about it this way: The farther a location is from the sea, the thinner the atmosphere is. This is great for the collection of solar energy because there is less of a chance for clouds to block the Sun’s rays. Because of this, the higher you go, the more solar energy you are likely to collect.

In the United States, the Rocky Mountains act as a natural barrier between the Pacific Northwest and the rest of the country. This makes the region well-suited for solar energy collection. Places like Boulder, Colorado, which is located at 12,500 feet above sea level, get more sunlight than most areas of the country because there is relatively little atmospheric mixing between the two regions. As a result, the area is prone to sunny days and cool nights even in the summer, which is great for those seeking to harness the power of the Sun.

The opposite of altitude is called “elevation”, which is the distance from sea level to the nearest point on the surface of a body of water. The closer a location is to a body of water, the more solar energy it collects. For example, if a location is at the surface of the ocean, it will collect the most solar energy of any location on the surface of the Earth. This is mostly because the Sun is directly overhead at the surface of the ocean, which makes for bright, sunny days and warm temperatures, perfect for growing crops or for surfing.

Proximity To Large Bodies Of Water

Proximity to large bodies of water is yet another factor that influences the amount of solar energy that a location collects. Naturally, the closer a location is to a body of water, the more solar energy it will collect. This is mostly because there is more sunlight reflected off the water than off any other surface. Additionally, locations near large bodies of water have an abundance of fish and other creatures, making for great fishing and diving adventures.

In the United States, Lake Superior, which is located in the northern part of the country, is the largest lake by surface area and the second-largest by volume. As a result of its size, it influences the weather and climate of areas that are proximate to it. For example, the winds that blow across the lake often have a bearing on those living at its edge. In fact, the lake’s waters can cause hurricanes to form, which makes it an important factor in the country’s hurricane history.

In the southwestern part of the country lies the largest freshwater lake in the United States, known as Lake Texcoco. This body of water, which is located in the Mexican state of Mexico, covers an area of about 124 million square feet and has an average depth of 39.8 feet. Because of its size, Lake Texcoco influences the weather and climate of areas that are near it. In particular, it is known to affect the heat island effect, making for relatively cool nights and pleasant days even in the summer. This is mainly because the shallow depths of the lake mean that the water doesn’t stay warm for very long. As a result, fish and other aquatic life are abundant, which draws in more than 500 species of birds.

In general, areas near large bodies of water are prone to flooding because of heavy rainfall. This being said, some areas experience more frequent and intense flooding than others, which can cause problems for those trying to farm the land or raise animals there. Fortunately, the reverse is also true: Those living in these areas benefit from the fresh water and the life that it brings. This factor alone makes the area worth a visit.

The Bottom Line

Of all the areas of the country, the bottom line is that the farther south you go, the less solar energy you are likely to collect. This is mainly because the closer you get to the southern part of the country, the more atmospheric mixing there is between the warmer, wet air of the Gulf of Mexico and the colder, drier air coming up from the south. As a result, there is more cloud cover, which influences the amount of sunlight that reaches the ground. In the northernmost parts of the country, where the seasons are reversed, days are long and bright in the summer but extremely cold in the winter. This being said, even in the winter, there is still enough sunlight to provide for an enjoyable day. In the southwest of the country, the climate is temperate, which makes for a great habitat for humans and all other creatures.

Scroll to Top