Thursday, September 22, 2022

Where Should Solar Panels Face

Are Solar Trackers The Solution

What direction should your solar panels face?

Wouldnt it be great to have smart solar panels to detect the suns location and change their angle to always face it? That way, we could dramatically increase the efficiency of our solar systems, wherever they were located.

Actually, we can do that already using the solar tracker. So whats the catch, and why isnt everybody using solar trackers? Its because they are very expensive, and generally cost a lot more than any energy savings that they generate.

You need to adjust some types of solar tracker manually, and some are automatic. Some can change their angle through just one axis, and more sophisticated ones can track the sun more precisely using a rotating axis. The more sophisticated the tracker, the more it costs, but even the simplest trackers are usually too pricey for home solar arrays.

Solar trackers are a promising technology, but at the moment, the extra energy that they generate doesnt justify the added expense to a home solar system. But given the speed at which advances in solar technology are happening, we can look forward to affordable solar trackers that will further prove the efficiency of our home solar systems

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.

Which Direction Is The Greatest For Solar Panels To Face

The general rule for solar panel placement in the northern hemisphere is that solar panels should face true south . Because solar panels receive direct sunshine throughout the day, this is usually the greatest direction. However, there is a distinction to be made between magnetic south and real south. When a compass is used, the south represented is magnetic south, which points to the Earths south magnetic pole. Solar panels, on the other hand, must face solar or geographic south, or the direction that leads to the South Pole. By the same logic, if the solar panel is positioned in the southern hemisphere, it should face true north.

It may also be useful to have a tiny rotation away from due south, depending on how solar panels are employed. Solar panels for a residence, for example, should face somewhat south-west depending on their intended purpose. When these panels face due south, they capture more energy, but the energy is more beneficial later in the day. As a result, the solar panels are able to produce more electricity during peak hours. The panels may create more energy in the evening, when people are home and using more appliances, if they were pointed slightly south-west, in the direction of the setting Sun. The loss in total production is offset by the availability of electricity when it is most needed. During the morning and midday, most areas have enough electricity from other sources.

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Why Do Solar Panels Need To Face South

SOLVED: Do Solar Panels Have To Face South To Be Of Benefit?

The conventional idea is that solar panels should face south. This is because, while we complete our yearly orbit around the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is always in the southern region of the sky. As a result, the current best practice has always been to arrange solar panels facing south in order to gather the most amount of sunlight possible.

In the solar industry, its common knowledge that these south-facing panels should be angled between 30 and 40 degrees. This angle fluctuates and is roughly equivalent to your homes latitude .

This angle specificity is intended to ensure that sunlight strikes panels at a perpendicular angle, which provides the most energy. In the northern hemisphere, an angle along these lines also makes it easier for snow to slide off solar panels during the winter.

Some rooftops slope almost perfectly, allowing installers to mount the panels snugly against them while maintaining a fantastic angle for capturing the suns energy. Some rooftops are steeper than others, while others are level. There are many mounting techniques to help place your solar modules so that they can produce at their best, depending on the sort of roof you have.

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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.

The Best Direction For Solar Panels In Las Vegas

The best way to determine the direction of solar panels in Las Vegas is through a site assessment. This requires an expert to visit your property and take measurements before making recommendations for installation.

The angle of your roof, the suns position at various times throughout the day, these factors will all need to be considered before you can make an informed decision about how much energy you want to be produced on your property each year.

The best direction for solar panels in Las Vegas is south facing because it will receive more sunlight than any other direction and provide maximum energy production.

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How To Correctly Calculate The Optimal Angle For Solar Panels

Another significant yet easily forgotten factor is the optimal orientation angle.

The tilt angle is a twin complement to the best direction for solar panels to face. In essence, selecting the accurate angle and south tilt is akin to optimizing solar panel orientation for the most efficiency.

But how do you know the perfect angle? Here is the answer.

Adjusting to the precise direction angle is based on latitude because the wide practice has overly dictated that the top-performing sun-powered cells must be titled to an angle identical to the real house latitude.

If your physical location is at 32 degrees latitude, then your PV equipment must be harmonized at a 32 degrees angle tilt.

Solar Panel Cost In Florida By Cell Type

Which Direction Should Your Solar Panels Face?

Solar panels come in different cell types. Polycrystalline and thin film are the least expensive, while monocrystalline is more costly. Polycrystalline panels are made of many small pieces of silicone crystals. The panels are blue, making them stand out more but they are less costly to purchase and install. They do not generate as much energy as a monocrystalline panel.

Thin-film panels are also less costly and available in many subtypes. Thin- film panels have a lower profile but are better in low-light areas than the other types. Due to the amount of sunlight Florida receives, thin-film panels are much less common in this state. You can find them and polycrystalline panels if you like, but they are generally not as common.

Monocrystalline panels are the most common that you will find in Florida. These panels use individual silicone crystals, so they are more efficient at producing energy. They can be thinner than polycrystalline panels and have a sleek black finish. They also come in a few types, which may help achieve your energy goals with fewer panels than the polycrystalline or thin-film types.

Below are the average costs to install a 6kW system in Florida using the different panels.

Cell Type

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A Weak Or Damaged Roof

An old or weak roof may not have the structural strength to be able to safely hold the solar panels and mounting. An installer should analyse the structural integrity of the roof to determine whether this is the case, and they will advise you upon completion of their checks.

If you are told that the roof is not strong enough, in its current condition, to house PV panels, you can consider having roof repairs or replacements, but these can cost a lot of money and inconvenience. Alternatively, your installer will inform you whether there are any alternatives that would strengthen the roof enough to be able to house your new solar system.

What The Future Holds In Store

Solar trackers seem to be the most popular option currently being explored. It is an existing technology, but its application is limited to large-scale ground-mounted systems. This is mainly because solar tracker systems are expensive, need more maintenance, and most importantly are not suitable for the wind speeds, and precipitation that they get exposed to on a rooftop.

Self-cleaning, self-maintained tracking systems that incorporate designs that will sustain the conditions on a rooftop are what manufacturers today are working on at their R& D labs.

Worlds largest rooftop solar tracking system

One such company, Edisun Microgrids, have already designed a new tracking system. Here, in place of the traditional pole mounted trackers that require to be raised by 6 feet, the tracking systems are just a few inches off the roof. Another notable change in design is that these panels pivot from their edge as opposed to traditional trackers that pivot from the centre. The organisation has successfully completed the worlds largest rooftop solar tracking system with 2900 trackers on individual panels in Oxnard, California.

The company believes that its rooftop tracking gear can boost the energy output of a solar project by 30% compared to fixed-tilt trackers.

Pavan Balakrishna, Engineering-Operations at Solarify

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How Is Solar Energy Collected

As we burn more fossil fuels each passing day, the idea of using the nearly infinite amount of energy produced by the sun was just a pipe dream for the unwashed masses.

However, that dream is now a reality that almost anyone can enjoy around the world.

Scientists and engineers have long tinkered to the point of perfection.

But like all good things, there will always be naysayers who think the devil of harnessing the suns natural energy.

I agree that this all seems like wizardry to me, but NW Wind & Solar aptly explains that:

Solar panels, also known as modules, contain photovoltaic cells made from silicon that transform incoming sunlight into electricity rather than heat.

Its a simple concept that modern technology has made into a reality.

As demonstrated above, scientists and engineers arent stopping this technological wonder in an attempt to advance humankind, and that isnt always a bad thing.

Is It Okay To Have Solar Panels Facing East

Which Direction Should Solar Panels Face For Best Efficiency? â eDrive ...

Because the suns path is always in the southern sky in the northern hemisphere, static, south-facing panels can absorb the most sunlight throughout the year. Panels oriented to the southwest or southeast produce around 8% less than those angled directly south. The production of solar panels facing directly east or west is closer to 20% less than that of panels facing directly south.

The importance of roof orientation might also be influenced by the tariff structure of your electric utility. If your utility implements a time-of-use pricing system, your electricity will be more expensive during peak usage periods . These peak demand times are typically in the afternoon and evening, when people return home, crank up the air conditioning, prepare supper, and so on.

During peak demand hours, west-facing solar panels receive the most sunlight and, as a result, displace more grid energy. When normalized for a 5.5 kW system, one research revealed that west-facing panels provided roughly 50% more energy than their south-facing counterparts during peak demand hours. So, while overall production is lower, west-facing panels provide energy when it counts the most in terms of cost savings.

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Best Seasonal Angle Of Tilt

A simple way to improve the efficiency of your solar system is to change the angle of tilt depending on the season.

Best angle for winter = latitude + 15°

Best angle for summer = latitude 15°

using these calculations for our Florida and Washington state examples uses the following results:

Florida Optimum winter angle = 27 +15 = 42° Optimum summer angle = 27 15 = 12°

Washington StateOptimum winter angle = 47 +15 = 62° Optimum summer angle =47 -15 = 32°

In The United Kingdom Which Way Should Solar Panels Face

In the United Kingdom, facing south and slanted at a 35-degree angle from the horizontal maximizes the amount of energy gathered by a solar panel. The annual incident energy will decrease when the panels orientation travels away from due south. Similarly, as the angle of tilt moves closer to vertical or further from horizontal, the incident energy decreases.

On a normal 35-degree pitch roof, panels facing southeast or southwest will receive 95 percent of the light energy received by panels facing due south each year.

East and west facing panels receive 80%, which can be readily made up with additional panels.

People are already talking about putting solar panels on north-facing roofs as well as south-facing roofs as the cost of solar drops.

A 35 degree roof receives more than 60% of the light energy of a south facing roof and 55% of the light energy of a fully north facing roof when facing northeast/west.

Whats the reasoning for this?

Around half of the light energy in the UK is diffuse throughout the year, and this light energy is less affected by the panels direction than direct sunlight.

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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.

Install Solar Panels On Your Roof Anyway

Which Direction Should My Solar Panels Face for Optimal Performance

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.

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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.

Which Direction Should Solar Panels Face

The direction in which your solar panels face is the first thing to consider for your solar panel installation, and it is likely the factor that will have the greatest impact on its production. The best advice here is based on simple logic, as the sun always rises in the east and sets in the west, regardless of where you live.

We are in the northern hemisphere in the United Kingdom. This indicates that the sun is above the equator, and your solar panels will be most efficient if they are pointing south. Panels facing south will be exposed to the sun all day. This allows them to capture as much sunlight as possible and turn it into energy.

Of course, many homes lack a suitable south-facing roof, but that isnt necessarily a reason to abandon solar panels.

If south-facing panels are not possible, the next best option is west-facing, followed by east-facing. North-facing panels are the least efficient and are therefore unsuitable for use in the UK. If they dont have a south-facing property, some homeowners opt for panels on both east and west-facing roofs.

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