Monday, July 8, 2024

What Orientation Is Best For Solar Panels

How To Choose The Optimum Orientation For Your Panels

What’s the best Solar Panel Orientation

Picking the proper direction for your solar panels is just as important as the panel you use. A panel needs to have a high concentration of photovoltaic cells, and the angle needs to be well calculated.

Video showing how to calculate the best angle for your solar panels

The goal of tilting is to ensure the panels are always facing the sun. The sunrays should always hit the solar panels perpendicularly.

A few elements determine the optimum orientation for your panels. These include:

  • Your roof
  • Season

Best Tilt Angle For Solar Panels

The tilt angle is the angle that solar panels make with the ground. It is a positive number expressed in degrees and is between 0° and 90°. When panels are completely flat, facing to the zenith, the tilt angle is 0°. And when panels are fully vertical, the tilt angle is 90°.

Solar panels absorb most solar energy when the rays of falling sunlight are perpendicular to the surface of solar panels. To achieve this, we have to know the suns altitude in the sky, which is measured by the solar elevation angle. Knowing the elevation angle, we can estimate the tilt angle for solar panels, such that the rays of the sun strike perpendicular to the surface of solar panels.

However, the elevation angle never remains constant. It is zero degrees at sunrise and sunset and reaches the highest at solar noon. You cannot always have solar panels facing perpendicular sunlight without the help of solar tracking technology.

A more practical approach for fixed solar panels is to tilt solar panels at an angle equal to the latitude of the location.

At the latitude angle, solar panels perform best in noon peaks, the time when solar insolation is abundant. Also, at the latitude angle, the surface of solar panels gets closer to the desired perpendicularity. This angle outputs optimal power over the entire year and in every season.

Recent Study Reveals Some Interesting Facts

The conventional understanding is that the solar panel facing south will receive the most sunlight. This is correct to a certain extent however recent studies have proven differently: According to a new study from Pecan Street Research Institute, West-facing rooftop solar panels produced 49 percent more electricity during peak demand compared to south-facing panels . This research was conducted and data was collected from fifty homes in Austin, Texas, which had solar panels installed in different directions. Some homes had only south facing panels, some only west facing panels while some had both.

Solar panel direction – Northern and Southern Hemisphere

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What If Your Panels Dont Face North

If you reside in Australia, and your panels dont face north, your property may still be suitable for generating solar energy. If your property faces east or west, panels can still generate good yields. Depending on your location and roof pitch, youre going to lose somewhere between 10 20% efficiency as a result of not having panels facing in a due north direction. If you have the option to place the panels in more of a north-east, or north-west direction, it is recommended. This will increase sun exposure to the panels and therefore increase the systems ability to generate solar power.

If your property is constructed in such a way that you are only able to face solar panels in a southerly direction, then you will lose further capacity, as compared to a north facing system.

The table below shows the efficiency of panels at different orientations for different locations around Australia .

When it is not possible to orientate panels in a northerly direction in Australia, a greater emphasis is placed on the angle of the panels. In this situation, a rooftop closer to horizontal, will generate better solar yields. The smaller the roof pitch, the better for south, east or west facing buildings.

Are Solar Panels Right For Your Home

Which Solar Panel Direction Will Give You The Most Energy ...

When deciding whether solar panels are worth it for your home, roof position should always be taken into consideration.

Most reputable solar installers offer free home consultations, during which a representative will survey your roof and let you know whether rooftop solar would be a good idea based on your roof’s positioning and how much sunlight your home receives throughout the year.

To get a free, no-obligation quote and set up a consultation with a top solar company near you, fill out the 30-second form below.

Read Also: Can You Clean Solar Panels With A Pressure Washer

Are Early Morning Or Late Afternoon Clouds A Common Occurrence

So, you have determined that shading is not an issue, and that both sides of your roof are symmetrically angled. What do you do now? Although Australia is well-known for its unpredictable climate, you will need to consider when you tend to have cloudy weather more oftenin the morning or in the evening.

This will depend on your location and climate, but for many locations , mornings have a greater tendency for overcast skies. Shading, even from clouds, can reduce the output of a system by up to 90%: any time it is not sunny, energy production will drop.

So, in essence, the answer is that you should try to put your panels on the sunnier side of the roof in terms of weather: if you have cloudy mornings more often, the west-facing roof, and if you have cloudy afternoons more often, the east roof. You can check out the Bureau of Meteorologys website or use NRELs PVWatts tool to get a clearer idea of which direction is sunnier.

The Suns Movements Throughout The Day

During the course of a day, the sun passes through the sky in an arc that varies throughout the year due to the earths orbit . The arc is always symmetrical from east to west, measuring out from the centre point, which would be midday. This means that from sunrise to midday and from midday to sunset, there is an equal number of hours of sunlight on one particular location.

So, if your home or roof does not have any north-facing roof space available, but does have two sides that face east and west, you may be asking yourself which side would be a better location for the most power generation. Making the right decision will impact on how much money you can save with your solar panels.

Also Check: What Can You Run Off A 100 Watt Solar Panel

When Tilt Frames Are A Justifiable Expense

So we can see that both of these factors are important in their own right. What the majority of houses and installations need to remember is that a combination of a not so great orientation and a poor tilt will add on to one another, making the consideration of both factors the only reasonable way forward. Tilt frames that counteract a sub-optimal tilt and orientation will cost you a little extra. How much will depend on how many panels make up the system, and how the installer sources and prices the labour and parts required.

The bottom line is that the bigger a system is, the more justifiable that expense becomes especially on a flat roof. In the ideal scenario, the cost of a tilt frame will be paid for with the increased efficiency and day-to-day output of your system. Shopping around to get a number of quotes is the best way to find a reasonable price for the frames.

The Optimal Direction For Maximum Output

Why South is Not Always the Best Orientation for Solar Panels

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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The Worst Direction For Solar Panels

Now Ive worked out the best direction, along with reasonable directions, I may as well work out the worst direction for each capital.

Below Ive listed the worst direction solar panels can face for each capital which is never very far from 180 degrees due south and what percentage their annual output would be compared to facing the optimal direction. Because the output varies according to the slope of the roof I have assumed it will be 20 degrees, which is a nice round figure between the most common slopes of 15 and 22.5 degrees. The results for both of these roof slopes will be very close to the figures below:

  • Adelaide: 184 degrees 74%

About Ronald Brakels

Ronald was born more years ago than he can remember. He first became interested in environmental matters when he was four years old after the environment tried to kill him by smashing fist sized hailstones through the roof of his parents Toowoomba home. Swearing revenge, he began his lifelong quest to reduce the harm the environment could cause. By the time he was eight, he was already focused on using the power of the sun to stop fossil fuel emissions destabilizing the climate. But it took him about another ten years to focus on it in a way that wasnt really stupid

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.

Also Check: How To Size An Off Grid Solar System

Do I Need Solar Panels If Im From A Cold City

Solar panels work in Alaska, so they should in your city. In fact, solar energy has the potential to provide nearly 23% of all power in the cold state. Scientists and enthusiasts actually suggest that solar panels are even more efficient in cold places.

And yes- your solar panels will still work effortlessly during the winter. Obviously, the output will be lower than what you get during the summer because the days are shorter, and snow may clog at the panels.

The Best Angle For Solar Panel Installation

A New Direction For Solar: West Facing Panels

When installing home solar panels, its important to install them at the best possible angle to maximize their sun exposure. Not only can this affect energy production, but it also directly impacts how much money you may save on your electricity bill. If you want to learn how to get the most out of your investment, keep reading to learn:

  • The importance of solar panel orientation
  • The optimum angle for solar panels
  • The factors that influence the optimum tilt angle

Also Check: How To Add Solar Panels To Your House

Utilize Solar Panel Trackers

If your budget allows, consider solar panel tracking systems. They 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.

However, its important to note that solar trackers are expensive. While a standard 4 kW fixed solar panel system costs about $11,400 after incentives, a single-axis tracking system that can produce the same amount of power – such as the Smartflower – is $20,000, or almost double that.

What Is The Best Direction For My Solar Panels

The traditional advice is to position solar panels to be south-facing. This is because, for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is always along the southern part of the sky as we complete our yearly orbit around it. This being the case, the general best practice to date has always been to position solar panels facing south in order to capture the maximum amount of sunlight overall.

Generally, its common knowledge in the solar industry that these south-facing panels should be tilted between a 30- and 40-degree angle. This angle varies and is just about equal to the latitude of your home .

The reasoning behind this angle specificity is to ensure sunlight hits panels at a perpendicular angle, which produces the most energy. An angle along these lines also helps snow to slide off of solar panels more easily during winter in the northern latitudes.

Some rooftops slope just about perfectly in a way that lets installers secure the panels flush against them and still be at a great angle for capturing the suns energy. Other rooftops might be steeper, or some others are flat. Depending on the type of roof you have, there are different mounting systems to help position your solar modules so that they can produce at their best.

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What If Your Roof Doesn’t Face South

Barring a couple of exceptions outlined above, your rooftop solar energy system should ideally be facing south for maximum efficiency. Of course, this isnt always possible: many homeowners dont have roofs that face in that direction!

The good news is that this is not a dealbreaker. There are plenty of homeowners without south-facing roofs, who have solar panels installed and are enjoying huge savings on their electric bills.

Here are some workarounds for homeowners who dont have south-facing roofs:

Position Alignment For Your Solar With Solar Panel Zenith Orientation:

Which is BEST? – North South Vs East West Solar Panel Facing Orientation

Zenith Orientation: The first step to maximizing solar power efficiency targets the panels optimally, which is just what Zenith Orientation does. It uses an algorithm that automatically shines down on your roof during optimal times, ensuring maximum power production. Lets put it this way- stick a shovel in the dirt but keep it upside down- not suitable for digging! You wouldnt want to do that with your investment either!

The power output of a photovoltaic solar panel is getting maximized by optimizing its solar zenith orientation angle. The term zenith denotes the point in the sky directly above your location at any given time.

Read Also: How Long To Pay Off Solar Panels

Tilt Angle Vs Azimuth Angle

When it comes to positioning solar panels, there are two angles to consider:

  • Tilt Angle – This describes the vertical angle of the solar panels, and is also known as Elevation Angle. The lower the angle, the more up towards the sky they face.
  • Azimuth Angle – This describes the horizontal angle that solar panels face in relation to the Equator.

We mentioned that solar panels in the northern hemisphere should face south, so you might think that calculating the azimuth angle is easy – just point them south! However, its important to know that solar panels need to be angled towards true south, not the reading on a compass, which is magnetic south. Depending on where in the United States you live, that could mean your ideal azimuth angle is a difference of as much as 20° from magnetic south.

Pick The Right Location And Solar Panel Direction

If you are looking to achieve cost savings by installing your own solar power system, it is highly recommended that you put some time aside and carefully analyze and determine the right location for your solar panels. The optimum place to install solar panels usually depends on the position, inclination and its orientation towards the sun.

Solar panel direction during Summer and Winter

Recommended Reading: How Much Do Solar Panels Cost In Alaska

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.

Finding The Best Direction

Hereâs why Orientation and Positioning of Solar panels is ...

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.

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