How Much Sun Do Solar Panels Need
Solar panels need direct sunlight to produce the maximum solar output. To maximize the sunlight the solar panels receive, face the panels in a southward direction and install them in an area where they are not shaded by trees or other obstructions.
Just a small amount of shade on a solar panel can affect its power output. Your solar panel cells are connected in a series string, meaning that any cell thats affected by shade can weaken the other cell panels, reducing the overall power level. Before you go solar, youll want to check that you have an area for your solar panel with minimal or no shading , or use a string inverter with MPPT to minimize output loses associated with partial shading.
Our solar professionals can help you determine the best placement for your panels. In addition to our sun hour map, We do also have additional insolation data available for other parts of the world to determine how many peak sun hours you have to go solar. Email us at and give us the location of your solar project. Well help you design your solar power system. You can also call us at 1-800-472-1142.
Finding The Best Direction
Locating the best direction to point your solar panels can be accomplished very quickly. You could use tools if you wanted to, but you can just as quickly figure it out with none at all. The rule is that if you live in the southern hemisphere, you should point your panels true north, and if you live in the northern hemisphere, you should point them true south. Now, a compass tells you magnetic north and south, but it does not show you true north and south. There is a difference. A compass works using the magnetism of the north and south poles, whereas true north and south can be found based on geography. So, dont grab a compass expecting to find the best direction with it. If this is a little over your head, lets just go ahead and look at the simple way to find true north and south.
If you live in the northern hemisphere, at noon, shadows from vertical objects will face true south. Simply go outside and look at where your shadow faces. You could even stick a stick in the ground and take note this is the direction your solar panels should face.
On the other hand, if you live in the southern hemisphere, you can use this same technique however, you would want to face your solar panels in the opposite direction of where your shadows face. This is a simple tried and true way to find the perfect direction, and like I said, you can do it with no tools.
How The Season Of The Year Affects The Optimum Solar Panel Angle
Different seasons affect your solar panels in different ways. Specifically, wintertime is the most questioned issue when it comes to solar production, with the lower position of the sun in the sky, et cetera.
Good news, though, solar panels do work well in the wintertime, but youre likely to see a dip in the total energy production on the especially bad weather days due to snow covering your panels. This will, of course, reduce their power output.
One way to deal with this potential issue is to install your solar panels at a lower angle than your latitude. This will set up your panels to perform more efficiently all winter long, since they will be facing the sun more directly from the lower point in the sky. Its worth adjusting to this lower angle if youre able to do so.
The one issue with this, however, is that setting an angle of 15-degrees or less can prevent snow from naturally sliding off the array. This can mean longer-lasting snow cover and lower energy production. If youre able to clear off the snow regularly, this solution could be your ticket to success. If you cannot, however, you may need to angle as usual and be at a lower efficiency level for the winter.
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Renewable Energy Tax Credit Bridge Loan
What are they? The Renewable Energy Tax Credit Bridge Loan is a short-term loan product which enables you to finance federal and state tax credits and the NYC Real Property Tax Abatement for eligible renewable energy system products. The Bridge Loan has a balloon payment of principal and interest due at maturity and can be paid via check or ACH payment. You can pair this loan with a Smart Energy or On-Bill Recovery Loan and a Companion Loan.
Interest Rates. Interest rates are subject to the customers credit qualification. We encourage you to use our interest rate estimator to determine which rate may be available to you. Rates are subject to change.
Learn More. Speak with your contractor. They can help you apply for the Renewable Energy Tax Credit Bridge Loan.
Is It Okay For Panels To Be East/west Facing Rather Than South
Ideally, the best direction is to have your solar panels facing south. However, not all people have a roof that faces southwards and some will have east or west-facing roofs.
If your system is for self-consumption, its okay for panels to face east or west. East-facing panels will produce more power in the morning while west-facing panels will generate more power in the afternoon. This is because the goal of self-consumption is to generate what is needed rather than to produce the maximum.
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The Downsides Of Free Solar Panels
The appeal of free solar panels is that you dont need to have thousands of dollars on hand to switch to solar. This was great 10 years ago when the prices of solar panels were much higher than they are now. In fact, solar leases and solar PPAs helped drive the solar industry forward.
Now, however, the cost of solar is cheaper than ever, so making cash purchases or taking out a solar loan is a realistic option for homeowners. Free solar panels just dont offer as much of a benefit as they once did.
Actually, they tend to come with more downsides.
The Design Of The Roof
Most people decide to place a solar installation on the roof, given it wont be on its way, and it will have the best possible exposure to the sun. Now, roofs usually have an inclination of 30 to 40 degrees, and in that case, solar panels will most likely get enough sunlight, even if they lie flat. But if the inclination is bigger, theres a chance you wont be able to get the best possible tilt angle for your panels.
In those cases, it can happen that the optimal angle of solar panels is lower than the roof angle. The solar experts say that the best solution in that scenario would be to leave them flat on the roof. Other extreme implies you have a low angle roof. This is definitely the better option given you can manage to achieve having the best angle for your solar panels, but that will take some time and some money.
If your roof has a very small inclination, you will have to build a specially designed racking system that will hold solar panels the right way, under the right angle. It would not be good to place the solar system directly on the roof of that king because you will always have lower output.
But the worst possible scenario is the one where you want to install solar panels on top of a completely flat roof. In that case, you will absolutely need the racking system, it wont be a question at all. Only that way, you will be able to set solar panels at an angle you believe is the right one for your place and the season thats coming.
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Does The Angle Matter And Why
It seems a minor thing, the tilt of your solar panel, but it can make a huge difference on how effectively your panels are or are not in producing energy for your home. The tilt does change, however, based upon season, environment, location, and a few other things.
During winter, for example, in the northern hemisphere, the sun is low in relation to the horizon, so a steep angle is best. Springtime? Its 45-degrees. Summer, only 20-degrees.
Both the slope and the orientation is critical for best meeting your needs. But the best roof angle for solar panels has less of an impact on all of this productivity than the direction in which your solar energy system faces.
How Does It Work
The government would like as many homeowners as possible to switch to solar. Heres why: Solar is cheaper, and better for long term economic strength and growth. Heres how going solar can affect what you pay:
But the problem is the cost of going solar is prohibitive. So very quietly, the government has targeted certain zip codes across the United States, and enacted Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit. This allows homeowners like you to lease solar panels, usually for $0 down, and the government will help you afford the system with generous tax credits and rebates. Its a serious win for homeowners!
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How To Use The
- Select your country from the list.
- If you have selected America or Canada, select your state or province.
- Select the town or city nearest where you live.
- The calculator will then show the optimum angle for the solar panel. The calculator shows the degrees from vertical.
- If you cannot change the angle of your panel throughout the year, angle your panel according to the time of year that you need to get the best performance out of your system.
- In the notes section, you can see the position of sunrise and sunset at different times of the year. This information will help you during a site survey to identify any potential obstructions at different times of the year.
Paying For Solar Panels In Cash
Paying for solar in cash will yield the most long-term savings. By purchasing a home solar system outright, youre essentially paying for about 25 years of discounted electricity at once. A cash purchase allows you to calculate home energy costs decades in advance, avoiding interest rates, fees and utility rate hikes.
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What Is The Best Solar Panel Tilt For Your Latitude
The angle of tilt increases with latitude the further your house is from the equator, the higher your tilt angle should be.
For example, in states located at lower latitudes , the sun is higher in the sky. In these states, solar PV panels require a low tilt to capture direct sunlight.
On the contrary, for states at higher latitudes like Minnesota and Oregon the sun is lower in the sky. In those states, solar photovoltaic panels should be installed at higher tilt angles in order to receive maximum sunlight.
What About Solar Trackers
The suns position is constantly moving throughout the year, and the only way to always have your solar panels angled perfectly is to install a solar tracking system. Solar trackers follow the sun as it moves slightly, which will bump up your energy production. If you are considering a ground-mounted solar system a solar tracking setup may be what you need to optimize your installation.
For the majority of solar shoppers, a rooftop system is the lowest cost and doesnt take up space on the ground. Solar trackers cant easily be installed on a rooftop solar system, so theyre generally only used in commercial solar projects they can dramatically increase production because the tracking system acts as a solar panel angle calculator.
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When Should I Adjust My Solar Panel Tilt
If you really want to maximize your solar energy production, you will want to ensure your solar panels are positioned for maximum sunlight exposure throughout the year. To do this, you can adjust them for each season.
Adjusting your solar panels every season is easier said than done. To optimize your panel’s tilt year-round, you would need to adjust them four times a year. Doing this, or even changing only twice a year, is not always possible or straightforward.
Most solar panel installations will have the panels mounted to the fixed angle of the roof, and they can’t be adjusted. There is often no real option to adjust or tilt your solar systems.
It’s worth running the numbers to calculate if seasonal adjustments will have a significant impact on your energy costs. If they do, it may be worth utilizing a ground-mount system and installing axis-tracking solar panels.
Axis-tracking solar panels require a more significant investment than regular solar panels, and while they can increase solar output, they will also make your installation more expensive upfront. In many cases, installing solar axis trackers just isn’t worth the initial investment.
Do Solar Panels Need To Be Angled
Your solar panels’ tilt, or angle, is crucial because solar panels produce their maximum energy when the sun is directly perpendicular above them.
The tilt or angle of a solar panel refers to the way it is installed. If a solar panel system were level with the ground, then it would be at a 0° angle or tilt. But if it were standing upright and perpendicular to the ground, it would be at a 90° angle or tilt.
An angle is recommended because a tilted solar panel will be closer to the sun and be able to collect energy more efficiently. The photovoltaic cells in solar panels produce more power when the angle at which sunlight hits the panel surface is smaller.
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Common Questions About The Best Angle For Solar Panels
There are many factors at play when it comes to calculating your solar panel angle, leaving some homeowners a bit confused about what their next steps should be. Check out a few of the most frequently asked questions about optimal solar panel angles and orientation for additional insight.
How do you determine the best angle for solar panels?
Calculating the best angle for your solar panels will vary slightly depending on where you live. But, the rule of thumb is that they should be angled to face as close to the sun as possible. As such, the ideal angle for most people is close or equal to the latitude of your home typically somewhere between 30 degrees and 45 degrees.
What is the best direction for solar panels?
The best direction for solar panels is south. This is because the sun is always in the southern half of the sky in the northern hemisphere, and facing south means the most direct sunlight exposure. Its important to note that its not recommended to install your panels to face a suboptimal direction just to get the best tilt possible.
Is it worth tilting your solar panels?
Yes, it is worth tilting your solar panels so that they can collect energy more efficiently. By tilting them, preferably close to the same angle as the latitude of your home, youll be able to get the maximum average output from your solar power system year-round.
Should solar panels face east or west?Do solar panels need to be south facing?
How To Maximize Solar Panel Efficiency
You can improve the power generation of your panels to reduce electric bills. Aside from orientation, here are some ways you can improve solar panel efficiency.
- Buy an efficient system. Solar panels have come a long way and panel manufacturing has greatly improved the efficiency of new models. Check out systems by Renogy and Giosolar!
- Buy panels with Concentrated Photovoltaic Cells. This is a highly efficient cell with panels that can reach up to 40% efficiency!
- Avoid installing panels in shaded areas. Solar cells need exposure to the sun in order to produce energy. Tall trees and buildings are the main offenders when it comes to shading solar panels.
- Get a reputable company to install your solar panels. Experts will consider the different factors of your home and location so that your modules will face the right direction and have the correct tilt.
- Clean your solar panels. They dont have moving parts but the surface can accumulate dust and dirt which contributes to a 5% to 20% decline in power generation.
- Monitor power output using energy management software.
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Optimal Direction For Fixed Solar Panels
Fixed solar panels are a common and convenient option for individual owners. Once installed, there are no adjustments whatsoever. For fixed panels, the optimal direction remains the same throughout the entire year. It is decided based on your location. If you live in the northern hemisphere, the optimal direction is the south, while for people from the southern hemisphere, the optimal direction is north. If you live on the equator, then your solar panel must be oriented toward the zenith.
For example, for people from the United States, the recommended optimal direction is always south. And for Australians, it is north.
What Are Peak Sun Hours
Peak sun hours differ from hours of daylight the peak sun hour actually describes the intensity of sunlight in a specific area, defined as an hour of sunlight that reaches an average of 1,000 watts of power per square meter .
Although your panels may get an average of 7 hours of daylight a day, the average peak sun hours are generally around 4 or 5. Solar radiation peaks at solar noon, when the sun reaches the highest point in the sky.
The number of peak sun hours you get per day increases the closer you are to the equator and typically during the summer months.
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