The direction or orientation of a solar panel is very important as it is the deciding factor for power output. The more correct the orientation of the panels, the more the output. A panel will produce the most power when the rays of the sun hit its surface perpendicularly. So it is very important to place your solar panels in the correct direction so they get exposure to the highest intensity of sunlight for the maximum period of time to yield the maximum energy.
What is the preferred direction for facing solar panels?
The best direction for us in North America is placing the solar panels facing true south. This way the panels will receive direct sunlight all through the day. Care should be taken that the panels face the geographic south, i.e. direction towards the South Pole and not the magnetic south (“south” direction shown by compass needle).
The best direction for domestic use
If you are using these panels for entire domestic purposes, south-west facing solar panels can prove to be more useful. This is because such solar panels will yield more energy in the actual hours of need. Facing south-west, the panels will receive the rays from the setting sun producing more energy in the evening to be used by people for their domestic purposes as the energy need in our homes is the maximum during these hours. The energy needs during the daytime is usually taken care of by electricity from other sources. So, though clinically speaking, the panels should face south, but utility-wise, south-west or simply west might be a better alternative.
So if you are residing in areas under a TOU (Time of Use) payment system, west or south-west facing solar panels would be ideal. But, if not under a TOU payment system, the south would be the preferred direction.
Again this south or west issue can be solved by using a solar backup battery. The battery will store the energy when the sun rays are striking the panels the most and you can use this stored energy whenever you need it.
What should be the preferred angle of tilt for your solar panels?
The geographical latitude of your location is the controlling factor in determining the angle a solar panel should be set to yield the maximum energy. The solar panel should be tilted at an angle equal to the geographical latitude to yield optimal energy. Say, if you are living at 50o latitude the solar panels should preferably be tilted at an angle of 50o. Such a tilt means that the sun rays fall perpendicularly on the solar panels producing maximum energy.
A higher tilt in the northern locales is also effective in draining away the snow that otherwise will accumulate on the panels in the winter months blocking the sun rays.
The common way of determining the tilt is as follows:
For winter – (latitude x 0.9) + 29
For summer – (latitude x 0.9) – 23.5
What is the best direction for solar panels to face in Florida?
In the northern part of Florida, orientation (tilt and azimuth) of solar panels play a key role in energy generation. But in its southern parts where you are at a lesser latitude, azimuth (degrees clockwise from true north) is not of great significance. This becomes truer if your roof is shallow or the solar panels are flat mounted.
What is the best direction for solar panels to face in California?
In California, most electric utilities including SMUD and PG&E are changing over to TOU (time-of-use) pricing, which means that the rate charged for electricity will vary depending on the time you use it.
The demand for electricity is low between 9 pm to 9 am and so for these hours, the consumers are charged less. After 9 am, as soon as we get off the bed, the consumption increases manifold. And the rate increases proportionally. During the summertime, there is another period between 4 pm and 7 pm when the usage is maximum. The rate is fixed in tandem.
In these conditions, it would be preferable to produce electricity towards the end of the day when you and your family are at home and would be using power more. If that is the situation, west-facing solar panels are more effective than the south-facing ones. With west-facing panels, though the yearly electricity production is 14% less, yet the fall in percentage is just 1% for the summer seasons.
Moreover, these panels would be producing energy when you need it the most. So you will be drawing less energy from the grid during peak hours and this will be reflected in your energy bill.
What is the best direction for solar panels to face in Texas?
In Texas also, it is preferable to have your solar panels facing west or south-west than true south. This is because though the west-facing panels show a drop of 14% in annual energy output, this deficiency reduces to 1% during the summer months. Given this, the best placement of solar panels is southwest. Thus a southwest or western orientation will yield the maximum energy during peak hours and thus keeping utility in mind, south-west or west is definitely the preferred orientation.
Will solar panels work on east-facing roofs?
Roofs facing east will not get as much sunlight as south-facing roofs get. The east-facing roofs will get the direct sun rays during the first half of the day. As such, these roofs will have a 20% less yield than their south-facing counterparts. Even taking into consideration this decrease, the solar panels will produce enough energy to have a huge positive impact on your domestic expenses. However, if you have a south-east facing roof, the deficit in energy generation is bound to lessen.
To solve the problem of decline in production, you will have to increase the solar collector area by using larger collectors or more panels. Again you may mount the panels on racks which are oriented in a way to face south, but this is a more expensive proposition.
If the east-facing roofs are shallow or if they have a low to moderate slope, then the yield is better than if they have steep slopes. Also, you may lower the tilt of your panels on your east-facing roofs to increase the yield. Panels that face east when tilted at 30 degrees will have a decrease of 20% in production than the peak performance. But if tilted at an angle of 15o, the production shortfall will be just 15%. Though this change in tilt shows just a 5% gain, the gain when converted to money will be in significant volumes.
With east-facing roofs, the yield is more in the mornings. So if you are a family who consumes a good amount of electricity during the morning hours, placing panels on an east-facing roof can prove to be perfect. But for the rest of the day, the yield is very less, especially during the winter months.