At What Angle Should You Place Your Solar Panels
Solar panels work best when they face the sun directly, so peak power production happens when a solar panel is perfectly face-on or perpendicular to the sun. Whenever a solar panel is at an angle to the sun, it cant function at its optimum. Unfortunately, since the sun moves through the sky as the Earth rotates, a solar panel cant always stay face-on to the sun .
Environmental Influences On The Angle Of Tilt
Environmental factors in your location may also have a bearing on the optimum angle of tilt for your solar panels. The lower the angle of the inclination, the more likely it is that your solar panel will collect leaves, dirt, and snow, all of which will affect the panels efficiency.
But in more northern states with higher latitudes, the optimal angle of tilt is fairly steep anyway, so if you are following best advice, then your solar panels will already be angled in such a way that snow and other things slide off easily.
Which Direction Is Best For Solar Panels
The first thing to consider for your solar panel installation, and probably the aspect that will most affect its output, is the direction that the panels face. A large part of the best advice here just comes down to simple logic with regards to the suns movements, as no matter where you live, the sun always rises in the east and sets in the west.
In the UK, we are in the northern hemisphere. This means that the sun is above the equator and therefore your solar panels will be most effective if they are south facing. Panels facing south will face the sun all day long. This gives them the maximum possible time to collect sunlight and convert it into energy.
Of course, many properties do not have an appropriate south-facing roof but thats not necessarily a reason to give up on solar panels. If you cant have south-facing panels, the next best option is west-facing, and then east-facing. North-facing panels are the least effective and are impractical in the UK. Some homeowners choose to have panels on both east and west-facing roofs if they do not have a south-facing home.
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Solar Panel Orientation In The Uk
Your solar panel orientation is very important when it comes to maximising the amount of electricity that your solar panels will produce.
As were in the northern hemisphere the best solar panel orientation is obviously south, but:
Best Direction For Solar Panels To Face
- Post author:Solar Sena
As the price of solar panels falls, photovoltaic technology will continue to boom in the coming years. Some estimates by IRENA say solar will contribute around 13% of the global electricity generation by 2030. Today, we can see this rising trend in many countries, including America, Australia, the UK, Spain. More and more people are switching to solar to save electricity bills and due to environmental concerns. However, when you think of going for solar, many common questions pop up in your mind. Some of them are what is the best direction for solar panels to face, is my roof orientation correct, what is the correct angle, how does it matter.
In this article, we will clear some important questions related to the direction of solar panels.
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Home Solar : Does My Roof Have To Face South For Solar
Its a factthe orientation of your roof affects how much energy solar panels can potentially produce. Still, its not as straightforward as assigning a one-size fits all hard and fast rule for solar panel placement. For homes in the northern hemisphere, south-facing solar panels do receive the most direct sunlight throughout the year. However, a south-facing roof is by no means a necessity for a productive and economically viable solar power system.
A rooftop solar power system facing east or west can still generate enough energy to meet your energy demandsparticularly if its paired with a home battery backup system. Solar panel direction is one of several factors that determine the viability of rooftop solar. Here is a breakdown of the role roof orientation plays in producing clean, renewable energy for your home.
Start Saving With Solar
Remember, you dont need to live in the sunniest state in the country or have a rooftop that faces directly south to take advantage of the financial benefits of solar the most important factor in determining your solar savings is how much you pay for electricity. By going solar, you reduce or even eliminate your utility electricity costs, so even if you arent perfectly maximizing your electricity production, your solar investment can still pay off in a big way. Use EnergySages Solar Calculator today to determine just how much you can save.
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South Is Best Direction To Maximize Solar Panel Output
In the Northern Hemisphere, where the United States is located, solar panels will achieve maximum possible electricity production when they are facing south.
Thats because, on average, the sun shines directly over the Equator over the year. If youre north of the Equator, facing south towards it will maximize exposure to sunlight. In fact, in all regions north of the Tropic of Cancer – which includes the entire mainland U.S. – the Sun moves across the southern half of the sky all year round.
In other words, solar panels oriented south in the United States will face the sun all year long.
Pictured: The furthest north the suns path travels is directly over the Tropic of Cancer, roughly 23.5° north of the Equator, during the summer solstice . As all of the mainland U.S. is located north of the Tropic of Cancer, the sun shines to the south for us all year-round.
How much power will panels produce on your roof given its direction?
What Orientation Should My Solar Panels Be Placed At
Generally, to get the most energy production over the whole year, solar panels are usually oriented to the north and, if this isn’t possible, northwest and northeast are the next best options. This is then followed by due west and due east… and then south. As logic suggests, solar panels work best when theyre directly facing the sun, and the sun gives the most light during the middle of the day, when its to the north of Australia. In saying all of this, check out the different orientations below and their benefits for different households. Just because you don’t have a north facing roof, doesn’t mean you can’t have solar panels!
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Should Solar Panels Face South Or West
If your solar panel location faces south you’re in the sweet zone. True South is evident by the shadows cast at noon, running north to south. Most professional solar installers position the panels facing south because it receives the maximum duration of sunlight during the day. This is tempered, however, by your proximity to the equator and elevation to sea-level. Contrary to the south-facing rule, researchers at the Pecan Stree Research Institute in Austin, Texas suggest that solar panels should face west. Their studies show that west-facing solar panels generate two percent more power in the day during peak grid usage.
South Is Best For Homes With Net Metering
If youre in a location where full retail net metering is available, the best direction for your solar panels is south.
Thats because if 1:1 net metering is available, your priority should be to most efficiently achieve your desired level of solar output, with no regard to when that power is produced.
Let me explain. Solar panels facing south produce the most power overall, but they also produce most of it during midday. Midday is when your consumption is typically at its lowest, so there will be lots of surplus power produced. With net metering, surplus power is actually a good thing: you can export that electricity to the grid in return for bill credits equal to the full retail value.
In other words, if youre in a location with 1:1 net metering, it wont matter when youre producing solar power. Instead, youll want a solar power setup that produces 100% of your electricity usage at the minimum possible cost this can be achieved by orienting your solar panels south.
Learn more: What is net metering and how does it work?
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What Is The Best Direction For Solar Panels To Face
One of the most critical questions to ask when putting solar panels on a house is- what direction should solar panels face? In PV units, the best direction is defined by effect outputs.
This is simply the impact of power installations, or the amount of energy acquired when placed in a certain direction against other orientations. There is no meaningful value when PV power cells are fitted in the wrong direction on the roof.
It is essential to note that installation direction is not a matter of looking for the best sun energy systems but also how and where the environmentally-friendly technology will be fixed on the roof. Now, what is the correct direction to point solar panels?
As a rule, sun-powered technologies must point to the south in the northern hemisphere because experts have satisfied this strategy in solar panel orientation efficiency. The rationale of south-directed photovoltaic units is informed by the fact that direct natural light is at the equator in the entire year and improves the chances of North American countries to collect more energy.
Electric bills are costly to enthusiasts of eco-friendly energy, and therefore, solar panels roof direction to the south against other orientations has been proven to be an economically wise alternative.
What If A North Facing Roof Is My Only Option
Getting meaningful production from solar panels on a north-facing roof requires mounting them in opposition to the roof slant. That results in a more considerable aesthetic impact, and the total production will still be less than with south, east, or west-facing systems. Youll still see a few of these setups on older systems here in Colorado that have no alternate roof space available, but generally, in these instances, its helpful to consider non-roof locations for solar on your property and to utilize solar ground mounts or pole mounts instead of roof mounts.
Generally, the roof is the best opportunity for a large, unshaded space on your property. Still, if you have sufficient yard space, a ground-mounted system can actually be cheaper than a roof-mounted one. Ground-based solar panels also offer easier maintenance access and create shade for landscaping or gardening.
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Why Should Solar Panels Face North
Solar panels should face north when they have been placed anywhere in the southern hemisphere which includes places like Australia, South America, or some Asian islands. It will receive maximum sunlight when facing north and this will culminate in a lot of energy production for all the appliances in your household. However, north-facing solar panels are ideal only when there are no obstructions on the northern side like buildings or trees.
North-facing solar panels tend to be best suited for people or families that stay home throughout the day. Since they are home for so long, the use of appliances like pool filters, washing machines, clothes dryers, etc. is also more. Solar panels facing the north direction yield more energy and hence, they are ideal for such households. In many cases, it is possible to have the panels face different directions.
While some might face north, others can face west so that the effect is somewhat like that of the north-west facing panels. This generates the least energy in the morning and the maximum energy in the middle of the day and the afternoon. This is a good thing if you wish to save money on your electricity bills.
Were Not Quite Done Yet
There is a new and emerging trend termed as the Time of Use pricing. This is a system of pricing where power charges are higher for a pre-defined time of the day, usually when the power usage across the state/country is highest.
Normally, usage is highest between 1 PM and 7 PM. During this time supply of electricity from the already active power plants is stretched to its limits. At a point, the power plants that are farther away turn on as a contingency to avoid failure of supply. This, because of obvious reasons, increases the working cost of the grid. Under TOU, the customer shells out more money to pay their utility bills.
In places like these, it turns out that west-facing panels are more economical when compared to south or north facing panels. This is mainly because west-facing panels generate 49% more electricity during peak demand when compared to south-facing panels, as recorded by a study conducted in Austin, Texas .
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What Does This Mean For Solar Systems Already Installed
If you were one of the early movers who now enjoys the benefit of a fixed feed in tariff, then north facing at 30 degrees tilt is ideal to maximise your savings.
Changing the orientation of an existing solar panel is possible, however when the cost of having the array shifted is considered, it usually makes more financial sense to buy additional panels or battery storage.
Panels do not have to be pointed in just one static direction. A homeowner can buy a device called a tracker that will pivot the panels over the course of the day, like a sunflower, so they always face the sun.
A tracker can raise the output of a panel by 45 per cent. But installing trackers will cost thousands of dollars, require detailed structural engineering, and council approval. For residential houses, trackers rarely make financial sense.
A cheaper way to get the same number of kilowatt hours may be simply to buy a few extra panels and point them in different directions.
If you have solar panels pointing in different directions, it is important that each group of panels is connected to its own Maximum Power Point Tracker within the inverter, otherwise you will get poor performance from your solar system.
Alternatively you can use micro-inverters, which optimise every panel, however these are significantly more expensive than the standard wall mounted inverters.
What’s The Best Solar Panel Location
If you are looking into having a solar system installed, you likely have so much information rolling around in your head you don’t know what to look at first. From cost to size to placement to energy requirements, there is a huge amount of information to consider and take in, which is why we thought we would help you out a little and get together some information on solar panel location and, more importantly, solar panel orientation. Where you should have your panels installed, and what way should they be facing? These are critical questions to get right to ensure you get the most out of your solar system, so let’s take a look.
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Net Metering Vs Net Billing
Net metering is a policy that gives you full credit for solar electricity that you send into the grid. Those credits are banked and later spent when you use power from the grid.
For example, if youâre at work on a sunny day, your house may use little or no electricity, but your solar panels will be generating lots of electricity. That unused electricity will get sent into the grid, which is recorded by your utility meter. If you have net metering, youâll get full credit for that electricity. This means that if you pay $0.18 for one kWh of electricity taken from the grid, youâll get $0.18 back when you send one kWh of electricity into the gird.
If you have net billing, you donât get full credit for excess electricity you send into the grid. Instead, you are paid at a lower rate, often called the avoided cost rate. That rate is typically the wholesale cost of electricity that your utility would pay to a power generator.
For example, letâs say you pay $0.18 per kWh of electricity, which is about the average in the US.
Under net billing, you would get paid less than that. Letâs pretend that your avoided cost rate is $0.10 per kWh. That means if your house sends 20 kWh of power into the grid while youâre at work, under net billing you would get only a $2.00 credit for your electricity instead of the $3.60 you would get if you had full net metering. Over a course of a year, that can make a big difference in the economics of your photovoltaic system.
Bifacial Solar Panels Boost Efficiency But Not On Your Roof
On its face, the concept behind bifacial solar panels is a bit counterintuitive. Unlike typical solar panels, which convert sunlight to electricity on just one side of the panel, bifacial panels generate electricity on both, even though the back faces away from the sun.
To take advantage of their two-faced design, bifacial panels need space behind them to allow reflected light to reach the panel. While it doesnt make sense to install bifacial panels right against a roof, for some home installations they could significantly increase the amount of energy an array can produce.
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