The Sun is arguably the most important thing to us on Earth. Without the Sun’s warmth and light (solar energy), life on Earth would simply not exist. The sun warms the oceans, stirs the atmosphere, generates weather patterns, and provides energy to plants to grow. Animals and humans rely on plants for food and oxygen production. With no sun, there are no winds, currents, or clouds. The sun is just one of the billions of stars in our galaxy and is the star closest to Earth. Although the sun is 150 million kilometers (93 million miles) away, its gravitational pull holds Earth in orbit. Not to mention, a little sun exposure can boost serotonin, Vitamin D, and mental state.
While solar energy has been used since the beginning of time, it has been increasingly used to generate electricity in recent years. Solar power is energy converted from the sun to thermal or electrical energy. It is clean, renewable, and inexpensive, and is available anywhere in the world. If the sun hits the Earth at a specific location, that location has the potential to generate solar power. Solar energy has several benefits, including eliminating electric bulls, tax incentives, rebates, and credits; preserving the environment, creating jobs, and helping the U.S. become energy-independent.
The United States has the second-highest total solar capacity of any single country of 75,900 megawatts (MW). This is about 2.8% of the country’s total energy consumption and enough to power 11 million households. Those looking to use solar power to power their homes will probably want to know the best states to do so. Like many things, the amount of sun each U.S. state receives varies.
Sunniest States in the U.S.
Whether you’re interested in harvesting solar power or you’re the type of person who needs extra Vitamin D all year, knowing the sunniest states in the U.S. is important. No, the Sunshine State, Florida, is not the sunniest state in the U.S. But it is on the list.
Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, data analysis site Stacker found the states that get the most sunshine on an annual basis. The data includes the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. Hawaii and Alaska were not included in the data set from the CDC. Values in the data are average annual sunlight totals expressed in kilojoules per square meter (kJ/m^2). Kilojoules are a unit of measure for energy.
The sunniest U.S. states are: Arizona (5,755 kJ/m^2), New Mexico (5,642 kJ/m^2), Nevada (5,296kJ/m^2), Texas (5,137 kJ/m^2), California (5,050 kJ/m^2), Colorado (4,960 kJ/m^2), Oklahoma (4,912 kJ/m^2), Kansas (4,890 kJ/m^2), Utah (4,887 kJ/m^2), and Florida (4,859 kJ/m^2). The top three sunniest states in the U.S. have large desert landscapes, so lots of sunshine should come as no surprise. The absence of water and moisture makes it difficult for clouds and rain to develop, resulting in very dry conditions and lots of sun.
These states are also home to the sunniest cities in the United States. The cities are listed below with their average annual possible sunshine:
- Yuma, AZ - 90%
- Redding, CA - 88%
- Las Vegas, NV - 85%
- Phoenix, AZ - 85%
- Tucson, AZ - 85%
- El Paso, TX - 84%
- Fresno, CA - 79%
- Reno, NV - 79%
- Flagstaff, AZ - 78%
- Sacramento, CA - 78%