What Is The Tilt Of Your Solar Panels Important
First, letâs talk about the basics of solar panel orientation and why itâs an important concept to understand.
When youâre making an investment in solar panels, you want them to generate as much electricity as possible. In a perfect world, weâd accomplish this by picking everything up and moving to a nice, sunny place like Hawaii. Of course, thatâs not a viable option for most people, but as a Plan B, there are a few other things you can do to improve your solar electricity generation.
One of these is to optimize the orientation of your solar panels. When describing the orientation of your panels, there are two numbers: azimuth, which is the cardinal direction they are pointed and tilt, which is their vertical angle. Both are described in degrees.
Azimuth is in the angle relative to map north, where 0Â° is north, 90Â° is west, 180Â° is south, and 270Â° is east.
Tilt is the vertical angle, where a 0Â° tilt means that the panel is laying flat, and a 90Â° tilt means that itâs vertical.
To generate the most electricity, you would tilt the solar panel so that itâs perpendicular to the light source. I know that middle school was a long time ago, so Iâll clarify that perpendicular means a 90Â° angle. That means your solar panel would look like this: The optimal tilt for solar panels is perpendicular to the light source.
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?
But What About The Reduced Power Output
True, South-facing solar panels still produce about 16% more power than East-West panel systems. However, boosting the power of East-West solar panels to match South-facing solar panels can cost very little. The benefit of a better generation profile is often well worth this small added cost. On top of this, you can increase DC over-sizing with East-West solar panels compared to South-facing solar panels. DC over-sizing means using more than 3kW of solar panels with a 3kW inverter. You can do this with an East-West system because the panels will never all be at maximum output at any one time. This way, DC over-sizing helps you get the maximum return for your investment by controlling inverter costs.
Recommended Reading: How To Hook Up Solar Panels To Your Home
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.
Tilt Fixed At Winter Angle
If your need for energy is highest in the winter, or the same throughout the year, you may want to just leave the tilt at the winter setting. This could be the case if, for instance, you are using passive solar to heat a greenhouse. Although you could get more energy during other seasons by adjusting the tilt,you will get enough energy without making any adjustment. The following tablesassume that the tilt is set at the winter optimum all year long. They showthe amount of insolation on the panel each day, averagedover the season.Latitude 30° Tilt 50.7°
Don’t Miss: Where To Go For A Solo Vacation
Best Angle For Solar Panels By Climatic Season
If you want to produce maximum electricity throughout the year, youd have to change the tilt angle depending on the season. The suns apparent position in the earths sky changes depending on the season or time of the day. Adjusting your panels regularly to face the sun at all times gives you maximum output.
If you dont like sophisticated calculations, you can just use a simple formula. The theory for determining the best tilt angle for your season suggests that the sun tilts up to 23.5°. So, you can cover that if you change the panel orientation by 15° for every season.
- First, find out what your latitude is.
- Orient your panels at 0° when the sun is overhead your latitude.
- At Equinox, tilt them to your locations optimum angle.
- Then, add 15° to the optimum angle during the winter, and subtract 15° during the summer.
Why Angles Matter With Rooftop Solar
Just like other factors that affect production, the financial impact of the slight decreases in solar productivity related to your roofs slope depends on electricity prices in your specific market.
To give you an example, EnergySage compared data from two places and estimated the production levels of solar panels tilted at various angles. What we found was consistent with our investigations into the effects of other variables:
- Regardless of where you live or the tilt of your roof, adopting solar power provides significant savings.
- The angle of your roof actually has less impact on solar panel performance than the direction your solar energy system faces.
- Optimal electricity production occurs when solar panels face south at a tilt equal to 30°. However, even if you lower the tilt of your roof all the way down to 5°, production only decreases by about 10 percent.
* Annual electric bill savings ** Assumes an 80% derate factor, 180-degree azimuth, array tilt ~equal to locations latitude*** Production ratio
Youll notice above that, if you live in New York where electricity is more expensive, decreasing your panels tilt to 5° will lower production by about 10 percent. Although this decreases your optimal annual savings by over $125, you still save nearly $1,090 per year. Because you live in a high cost area, your savings over time will grow even more as electricity prices continue to rise.
Recommended Reading: How To Start A Solar Panel Installation Company
How Much Power Do You Lose If The Angle Is Not Perfect
Of course, it is not always possible to get the perfect angle all the time, especially because not all roofs are constructed according to the positioning of the solar panels. So, how much power do you lose when your solar panels are not positioned at the perfect angle?
The answer to this question entirely depends upon the orientation or the pitch of your roof. Any professional can calculate the percentage of energy loss while installing solar panels on your roof.
Furthermore, you can also do the same yourself. All you have to do is know the ideal angle at which your solar panels should be set. As mentioned previously, you can find out the perfect angle for your solar panels with the help of the latitude of the place you live in.
So, if the pitch of your roof is 15° and the ideal angle as per your latitude is 35°, you will lose 2% efficiency as the difference between the ideal angle and your roofs pitch is 20°.
If your roof is pitched at a higher angle, you will likely receive greater efficiency even if the angle is not perfect. However, it is best to mount the solar panels on a tilt frame that ideally suits your location if you have a flat roof.
This will help you maximize the total power output generated by the solar panels.
Solar Tracker Cost Analysis Calculation
Example: 5 kW solar panel system
Location: South Bend, Indiana
- Cost of installation $15000 = $10000
- Energy produced 7110 kWh = $748.68/annum
- Payback time = $10000/$748 = 13.5 years
Dual Axis Sun-tracker:
- Total Installation cost = $20000 = $14000
- Energy produced = 9243 kWh = $973/annum
- Payback time = $14000/$973 = 14.4 years
In the example above the payback time is a little longer, but after the payback time the electricity is free.
The above example doesnt account for maintenance costs of the of the solar-tracker. Any system with working parts will have maintenance costs associated with its operation.
Also Check: What Size Cable For Solar Panels
The Best Angle And Orientation For Solar Panels In The Uk
The angle and orientation of your roof is a significant factor when considering installing solar panels. For example a solar panel placed flat onto a west facing wall will produce about half the amount of electricity compared to being placed at a 30 degree angle on a south facing roof. Of course for a domestic installation you would never install a panel flat against a wall but this does illustrate the importance of placement.
Although important your roof angle and the direction your roof faces is not as big of an issue as it used to be. Modern panels are able to perform better at less optimal angles and perform better in the type diffuse light we get in the UK. There is only about a 5 percent loss in power output of solar if the panel are facing south-east or south-west compared to facing directly south.
The following table shows the relative output of solar panels based on their angle and orientation. It shows the further away from being at a 30 or 40 degree roof angle and facing due south the less efficient the panel would be. Interestingly if you placed your panels on a flat roof facing towards the sky they would only perform 10 percent less than optimal.
Do Shallow And Steep Roof Angles Affect Solar Panels
After reading those mentioned earlier, you must be wondering about roofs that allow a steep installation of panels against a shallow one.
Let us tell you that theres little difference between the output received from panels installed at a steep angle compared to those at a shallow angle. Like we told you, the amount of energy received also depends upon the seasons of the place you live in.
So, the solar panels mounted on a shallow roof can capture plenty of sunlight during the summer season. On the other hand, solar panels mounted on a shallow roof will capture more sunlight and thus, produce more energy during the winter season.
Of course, you can purchase a solar panel tracker to identify the best position for solar panels at all times. However, the cost of the tracker and repositioning might be unappealing to a lot of people.
Therefore, it is alright for you to adjust the angles of solar panels slightly lower or higher according to the latitude of your place. The energy lost is compensated for in the different seasons throughout the year.
Don’t Miss: How Much Money To Install Solar Panels
California Jumps On The West
As the debate over solar panel direction rages on in the renewable energy community, California has already positioned itself solidly behind the theory that the arrays are most beneficial to everyone involved when they face the Pacific Ocean. The state has implemented an increase in its renewable energy rebate, making up to $500 available to solar customers who choose this unconventional placement. As part of its New Solar Home Program California provides this reward for west-facing arrays, along with other supports and financial incentives for home builders and owners who choose energy-efficient construction for new residential dwellings.
It comes as no surprise that the Golden State is encouraging the shift away from south-facing solar installations.
California already suffers extreme power challenges during the heat of summer, particularly in Southern California where thousands of residents have already had a taste of outages which could plague the state throughout the rest of whats shaping up to be a sweltering season.
Other Directions For Solar Panels
Solar panels in Ireland will produce some electricity no matter what direction they face. However, North-facing solar panels produce substantially less power than South-facing solar panels. North-East and North-West are also fairly poor choices of orientation. On the other hand, South-West and South-East facing solar panels will produce almost as much power as South-facing panels.
Don’t Miss: How Much Solar For A Tiny House
Complete Guide For Solar Power British Columbia 2021
Congratulations! Youve found the ultimate guide for going solar in British Columbia!
British Columbia is currently ranked the #6 province in the country for installing a solar power system, scoring as one of the best provinces for installation costs and utility-related factors.
This page contains all relevant information about installing solar in BC including utility policies, system financing, solar incentives, and natural factors
This guide is sponsored by Empower Energy, a residential and commercial solar developer serving all of British Columbia. to visit their website and to get a free cost estimate.
The guide begins by answering the two most common questions about solar systems, then it explores each solar ranking factor.
You can read from top to bottom, or skip to your preferred section by clicking on it below:
|3. System Costs|
Direction Of The Panels
The tilt angle is not the only thing you need to consider to get the best outcome from the photovoltaic panels. The direction the panels are facing is vital too. In technical terms, this measure is called the Azimuth angle. It refers to the horizontal orientation of the panels in relation to the equator.
Generally speaking, the panels should be facing towards the equator. It is best to face the panels south as the sun is always in the south within the northern hemisphere. If you are in the southern hemisphere, then face them north.
If the orientation is not optimal, it does not matter whether you have the best angle for solar panels.
One thing to note here is that the south or north indicated by your compass may not be the most accurate as it is the magnetic south or north. In some places, the reading may be inaccurate by up to 25°.
However, inaccuracy of less than 10° would not make much of a difference.
Want to go solar for free? Try Arcadia Power and get $20 off your electric bill when you sign up.
Also Check: Is My House Solar Compatible
Ideal Angle For Solar Panels In Brisbane To Maximise Energy
Find out what the ideal angle and orientation of solar panels to maximise sunlight and solar energy on your home in Brisbane
Are you planning to install rooftop solar panels in Brisbane, Australia? Do you want to reduce your electricity bills? If yes, then it is a great way to save energy and money. However, before you go ahead, it is vital to determine at what angle you should mount your solar panels.
Since the Sun direction changes throughout the day, sun rays must fall on the solar panels perpendicularly to yield the maximum output. If you install your solar panels on a flat roof, the amount of sunlight that reaches the solar panels is less, which reduces the efficiency of solar panels by 20%.
That is why it is essential to determine the optimal tilt angle of solar panels, depending on your property location. However, the efficiency of solar panels varies with the orientation too. According to a study conducted at the University of Queensland, the ideal angle for rooftop solar panels in Brisbane is 26Â°, facing toward North. At this point, the sun rays fall on the solar panels at 90Â°, thereby helping you to get the most from your solar panels.
So, if you live in Brisbane or another state of Australia, what is the ideal angle for solar panels on your property? Well, to help you get the top-notch performance from your solar system, here we have done deep research and created this guide. So, letâs check out the things you should know about the tilt of solar panels.
What Is The Best Solar Panel Tilt For Each Season
The angle of the sun not only changes based on different latitudes, but also with the change of seasons. As shown in the illustration below, the sun is lower during the winter months and higher in summer months.
This means that if you wanted to ensure that your solar panels are always positioned for maximum exposure to sunlight, you would need to adjust them for each season.
The table below shows the optimal solar panel angle for various states in the U.S. during winter, spring/fall, and summer.
Optimum solar panel angles for various U.S. cities
However, adjusting your solar panels four times a year is not a straightforward task. After all, most solar panels are mounted on the roofs fixed angle and cant be adjusted.
The only way to adjust solar panels easily it to utilize a ground-mount system and install axis-tracking solar panels. However, theres a big downside to this approach: while it does increase solar output, it increases your costs by much more. As a result, solar axis trackers currently arent worth the investment.
*Are you wondering why you still only get 75.7% of optimal output after adjusting for each season? Thats because the remaining amount can only be achieved by adjusting for solar panel direction during the day. Well cover solar panel direction in an upcoming blog.
How does having a shallow vs. steep roof angle affect solar production?
Find out how much you can save by switching to solar
Recommended Reading: How To Use The Solo Stove