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Do Solar Panels Need To Face The Sun

Solar Panel Angle By Zip Code Determine Your Optimal Positioning

Robots pivot solar panels to face the sun

Do you want optimal production from your solar panels? Are you looking for the best solar panel angle by zip code? You have come to the right place. The angle at which the solar panel is elevated plays a vital role in maximizing the production of energy.

However, every place is different as you have to take seasons and the average position of the sun into account when installing one.

Determining the best angle can be a tedious task. For starters, there is no single ideal angle for solar panels. At different times of the year, the optimal angle may be slightly or even significantly different.

However, if you live in an urban area in the United States, you might just be able to find the best angle for the photovoltaic panels with your zip code.

Its no surprise that solar panels offer numerous environmental benefits. Before you look up the solar panel angle by zip code in the list ahead, it is important to understand why solar panels need an angle, how it is calculated, and what it means for production.

Are Certain Types Of Panels More Effective

While you might not be aware of it, there are many different types of solar panel from a range of providers. The two most common are the cheaper but less efficient polycrystalline solar panels and the more expensive but more efficient monocrystalline solar panels.

While these panels work to achieve different levels of output, this is not down to their positioning, so you can choose the panel that is right for you separately from deciding its placement.

Faq: Best Direction For Solar Panels

Is east or west better for solar panels?

For most homeowners in the Northern Hemisphere, panels need to face toward the geographic south, but not necessarily toward the east or west. The north-south axis tends to be more determinative of a solar panel’s efficiency.

Should solar panels face south or west?

For homeowners in the Northern Hemisphere, geographic south is typically the best direction for solar panels.

Do solar panels need to be south facing?

For homeowners who live in the Northern Hemisphere, it is recommended that solar panels be oriented toward geographic south . In other words, orient your panels according to lines of longitude rather than magnetic poles.

Which is the best direction to face solar panels in Australia?

For Australian homeowners, north-facing solar panels tend to be most effective, though a professional installer can give a more specific recommendation.

Also Check: Does Solar Increase Property Value

Why Orientation Matters With Rooftop Solar

Generally, solar panels that face directly east or directly west produce about 20 percent less electricity than if they were facing south. This doesnt mean you wont save money, but if youre aiming to cover all of your electricity usage with solar, you may have to install a few more panels than you would otherwise need with a southern-facing system.

While it is technically possible to install solar panels on the north side of your roof, its not the best location for solar production youll likely need to use special mounting so that the panels oppose your roofs slant in order to generate electricity. This means that they wont sit flush with your roof, and will still produce relatively little electricity. If a northern-facing roof is your only option, its worth considering alternative installation options, such as ground-mounted solar or a carport installation.

Install Solar Panels On Your Roof Anyway

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?

You can compensate for the decreased level of sunlight by installing more solar panels. In a solar panel installation, the solar panels themselves only account for a small proportion of costs you should be able to add a few extra panels without pushing up costs too much.

This is the option that most homeowners choose when they dont have a roof section that faces south.

Also Check: How Much Will I Save With Solar Power

How To Get The Most Sunlight Possible For Solar Panels

Whether you live along the rainy West Coast or in the sunny interior of BC, solar panels can provide you with plenty of solar energy as long as they are positioned properly on your property. Make sure that you have an experienced solar expert come to your property to help you decide on the best place to install your solar panels in order to get the most energy possible out of your investment. Some of the things to consider when deciding on the position of your solar panels include:

  • Trees, buildings, and other obstructions to sunlight or creators of shade
  • How high the sun gets in the sky at peak hours depending on the latitude of your property
  • Where the solar panels can be out of the way of daily operations.

If you would like to learn more about how much sunlight solar panels need in order to operate, or to find out more about the services that we offer in solar energy, please contact the team at BNR Electric and we can answer any questions you might have.

The Optimal Direction For Maximum Output

If I put all my results into a table I get this:

But it will probably be much easier to follow the wonderful graphic Finn has made for each capital:

While due north isnt quite perfect, it turns out to be pretty close, as panels facing that way will produce at least 99% of their maximum possible output in every capital except Darwin, where it will be just below that amount.

Darwin in the far north, where the sun is always high in the sky, offers the greatest flexibility in positioning panels for high output. Hobart in the far south is far worse, with output falling the fastest of all the capitals as panels are shifted away from their optimum position.

In four capitals Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, and Darwin solar panels will generate at least 85% of the maximum when facing directly east or directly west while Melbourne just barely fails to make it into this group.

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Install A Solar Array On The Ground

You can also install a ground-mounted solar power system in your yard. This is less expensive than creating racks on your roof or hanging them on a wall, but it does require a lot of yard space.

One of the best aspects of ground-mounted solar panels is easy maintenance. You can brush leaves or snow off of them without having to climb onto your roof.

Solar panel tracking systems can improve a systems output by ensuring constant, direct exposure to the sun, both during the day and across seasons. Axis trackers generate more electricity by using about the same amount of space as fixed systems.

Roof Steepness Matters Too

Why do I have to point my solar panels at the sun?

Though less impactful than the roof orientation, the angle of solar panels also affects production. The goal is to maximize sunlight that hits the panels at a perpendicular angle. If the panels are to be mounted flush with the roof, then the steepness, called roof pitch, decides the angle of the solar panels.

The ideal angle for south-facing panels here in the U.S. is between 30 and 40 degrees . The systems latitude will determine what the exact best angle is for solar production. Steeper angles have the added benefit of helping with maintenance, as snow and debris tend to slide right off.

East- and west-facing panels generate more energy when mounted flatter than 30 degrees. For example, east or west-facing solar panels that are at a 15-degree tilt trail the production of south-facing panels by 15% instead of 20% when at a 30-degree tilt.

Sub-optimal roof pitch can be corrected by constructing a mounting system that angles the panels to a preferred tilt, but this typically comes at a premium. Homes with flat roof are often able to utilize ballast-mounted systems, which have the added benefit of not requiring roof penetrations or additional racking.

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South Is Best With Battery Systems

South-facing panels are best if you plan to install a battery storage system such as the Tesla Powerwall or sonnen Eco.

That’s because if you have a battery system, your goal is to produce as much power as possible over the day. Facing your panels south should allow you to meet your daytime needs and, crucially, generate lots of surplus power to charge up your battery. You can then use your battery to meet your power needs at peak times, overnight and during grid outages.

The combination of south-facing solar panels with a battery solution allows you to maximize your energy self-consumption. This means reduced reliance on the grid, or even the ability to go off the grid entirely.

Solar Panel Direction: North Doesnt Always Give Most Energy

Optimal Orientation For Solar Panels In Australian Capitals: Directly North Isnt Always Best

It is generally accepted the best direction to face solar panels to get the maximum possible output is directly north. While this is not a bad direction, it is often possible to get a very small boost by having them face slightly away from due north. Usually facing them a little to the east will improve output, but in some locations a small nudge to the west is best.

While it doesnt make much difference, the misapprehension that due north is always best is very common and if you believed it yourself up until now, dont worry, its not your fault. Its the fault of the Germans. Or at least thats who Im blaming. In every location in Germany Ive looked at due south always seems best and when solar took off Down Under this may have led people to believe due north would always be best here.1

There are two reasons why a direction other than true north can be a little bit better:

  • Lower average temperature in the morning can cause solar panels to operate more efficiently than in the afternoon, giving those that face a little to the east a slight advantage.
  • Average cloud cover can be consistently greater during certain times of day. This is often in the afternoon which gives a slight disadvantage to panels that face west, but in some places it can be the other way around.

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What Does A Solar Panel Inverter Cost

The cost of an inverter depends on the size of your system as well as on whether you have a battery. The cost for systems under 3.6kW will typically vary between £500 – £1500 depending on whether you have a battery. Systems larger than this can require an inverter thats a little bit more expensive. Our Green Home Gurus are happy to discuss pricing in more detail when you book a consultation call.

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need For My House

Does My Solar Roof Need to Face South?

Much like other appliances, you cant just go to the nearest hardware store and buy solar panels

Another reason is that not a lot of solar power companies have a physical store as they deem it unnecessary.

Even if they do have a physical store, they wont sell you their products right away.

The solar panel companies need to know your area, recent electricity bill, how much youre paying per watts, the size of your home, and other vital questions.

Even if you go without their assistance, what if you go and buy a solar power unit that does not fit your needs?

What if your local governing area has strict laws regarding the setting up of solar panels?

Theres no need to worry about a consultation fee as a large majority of companies nowadays have free consultations.

If they do have a consultation fee, much like other businesses, theyre legally obligated to disclose that information otherwise legal action will be taken.

But if you prefer to read a more in-depth guide, check out Solar Power Nerds article on how many solar panels you need to run a small house to get you started.

Related: How Many Solar Panels Are Needed To Run A House

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Can Solar Panels Face East Or West

Ideally, solar panels generate maximum energy when they are south facing as compared to any other direction. However, the solar panels on your terrace may face the east or west direction. These panels produce 15% less energy on average when compared to south-facing solar panels. Even if the efficiency of the solar panels is lower when they are west or south-west facing, they will be more economical as the time-of-use billing will be less.

The time-of-use billing is at its peak during the afternoon and for those households that do not require power throughout the day, west-facing solar panels are perfect. This way you can have solar panels installed on the rooftop and still save a lot of money.

East-facing solar panels are not that uncommon either, even though they generate only 80% of energy. However, it is crucial to have net-metering for east-facing solar setups. This means that you are charged with the electricity bills as per your net electricity usage and this will help you save money.

What Are The Impacts Of Solar Power

Owning a solar power unit is a wise decision in financial terms, but what about its impact on the environment?

The concern is understandable, but since the purpose of solar units is to lessen our carbon footprint, there really isnt a concern.

But at a glance, we all know that solar energy has a good effect on the environment, but Ill expound a few of its good qualities.

Solar energy generates through a physical process that does not release harmful substances therefore, it makes an excellent renewable source.

Since solar panels made of silicone, people might think the materials are toxic, but silicone doesnt necessarily harm the soil.

Maintenance and cleanliness isnt also an issue as the cleaning is just pure, washing it with water with no soap.

Solar panel units are substantially similar to those large battery packs that store energy.

The only difference is that the battery packs are renewable and not disposable.

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How Do You Determine The Best Angle For Solar Panels

You must know how to calculate the correct angle for solar panels and articles like this one can provide helpful guidelines on how to do the same. Solar panel angle calculators are beneficial in these cases, but you can also do the calculations on your own. Calculating the tilt angle during summers is quite different than calculating this angle during the winters. Two main methods are used for such calculations.

One way of calculating the correct angle for solar panels is by subtracting 15 degrees from the latitude of the solar system. This is for summer days. You must add 15 degrees to the latitude for the winter days. This method has been criticized for not being very reliable. The second method for doing this calculation is by multiplying 0.9 to the latitude of the place and then subtract 23.5 degrees from the result.

This calculation is once again for the summer season. For the winter season, repeat all the steps and then add 29 degrees to the result.

Three Tips For Solar Shoppers

Which Direction Should Your Solar Panels Face?

1. Homeowners who get multiple quotes save 10% or more

As with any big ticket purchase, shopping for a solar panel installation takes a lot of research and consideration, including a thorough review of the companies in your area. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Energys National Renewable Energy Laboratory recommended that consumers compare as many solar options as possible to avoid paying inflated prices offered by the large installers in the solar industry.

To find the smaller contractors that typically offer lower prices, youll need to use an installer network like EnergySage. You can receive free quotes from vetted installers local to you when you register your property on our Solar Marketplace homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can expect to save $5,000 to $10,000 on their solar panel installation.

2. The biggest installers typically dont offer the best price

The bigger isnt always better mantra is one of the main reasons we strongly encourage homeowners to consider all of their solar options, not just the brands large enough to pay for the most advertising. A recent report by the U.S. government found that large installers are $2,000 to $5,000 more expensive than small solar companies. If you have offers from some of the big installers in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers to ensure you dont overpay for solar.

3. Comparing all your equipment options is just as important

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Solar Panel Direction: Best Direction For My Panels

The most optimum direction to face your solar panels is somewhere between south and west. It is at this location that your panels will receive the maximum sunlight throughout the day. If your roof does not face the right direction, then surface mounted panels or pole mounted panels may be your best bet. Alternatively you could adjust the angle of inclination of the panels to a certain degree to offset the effect of direction. For example if your roof is facing 10 degrees west towards north, you could reduce the tilt angle of your panels by 3 degrees. This would produce the same electricity as with a panel which is facing true west. Article by Katherine Tweed, November 14, 2013 from Green Tech Media

Why Is Direction So Important

To answer this vital question, lets take a look at a question posted in Quora that recently got popular.

The sun moves in the sky from east to west each day, but it isnt straight overhead unless youre on the equator.

It has a southern offset, especially in the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky.

As stated above, the sun doesnt travel in a straight line as the day progresses, as one would assume.

To better visualize this, there are many time-lapse videos available online where the sun arches as it moves across the land.

In those videos, we can clearly see that the sun moves at a slight arch.

This explains why solar panels need to face southwards.

More so when the winter solstice is upon us.

In that article, there were at least five more people supporting Michaels answer in terms of the direction for the solar panels.

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