Solar energy has been increasingly popular recently, especially in residential settings. We see more and more homeowners harnessing the power of the sun and using it as their home power backup. Last year, 22 million houses across the US had solar panels, according to data from EcoWatch.
If you’re planning to have solar panels for your house, naturally, you will be thinking about how to get the maximum output from your home solar system. In this article, we’ll explore the best orientation and the best angle for solar panels and if they really matter.
Let’s get on to it…
As you may already know, solar panels absorb sunlight and convert it into direct current or DC. The DC electricity will then be converted to alternating current or AC, which is used by most of the appliances and electronics we have at home.
So, if you think about it, you must place your solar panels where you can harvest the most sunlight to get the most output from your solar system. However, doing this is not as simple as knowing that the sun rises from the east and sets in the west. Remember that the sun's movement is more complex as it will move differently depending on your location and the time of the year.
Understanding how the sun moves will help you achieve the best orientation and angle for your solar panels, which is crucial to get the maximum output from your solar system.
Understanding Solar Panel Orientation
To explain quickly, solar panel orientation is the cardinal direction (north, south, east, west) of where the panels are facing. For the best orientation for solar panels, the rule of thumb is, homes in the Northern Hemisphere should have their panels faced toward true south, while areas in the Southern
Hemisphere must be oriented as close to true north. Proper orientation of solar panels will allow longer exposure to the sun and, therefore, will provide you with better energy.
Important note: When we say true north/true south, we talk about geographic north/south. Your panels must be oriented not by using the directions on a compass but should be based on the longitudes on a map.
Understanding Solar Panel Angle
Solar panel angle simply means the vertical tilt of the solar panels. For example, solar panels standing upright or perpendicular to the ground are at a 90°angle. To get the best output from your solar panels, they should be angled to face the sun as close as possible. However, like the orientation of your solar panels, some factors affect the ideal angle for your solar panels.
Factors Affecting the Best Angle for Solar Panels
Properly titled solar panels will have the latitude of your address factored in, as this will ensure that you get the optimum sunlight exposure. For most locations in the US, the best angle to install solar panels is close to your location's latitude. For example, the latitude for New York is 40.73 and the best angle for solar panels in this area is 41°. While for San Diego, which has a latitude of 32.83, the ideal angle is 33°.
Time of the Year
Yes, solar panels still work even in winter or cloudy days but do expect that you will see a decrease in their energy output, particularly during days with heavy snow. During the winter season for homes in the Northern Hemisphere, it is advised that solar panels are tilted a bit steeper (add 15 degrees to your location's latitude) as the sun would shine at a lower point during this time of the year. On the contrary, during summer, solar panels will have a different angle (subtract 15 degrees from your latitude) as the sun will be far higher in the sky compared to winter.
But then again, you should not be bothered much by adjusting the angle of your solar panels as the seasons change since most solar panels are installed at a fixed angle. The key here is to find the best year-round angle for your solar panels.
Keep in mind that each home has a different roof design; therefore, there is no single ideal angle for solar panels that applies to all homes.
For a house with a steep roof, it is possible that the tilt of your roof already has a higher angle than the angle to get the best solar output. The workaround for a steep roof is to place your solar panels as flat as possible. For houses with flat roofs, racking systems could be used to achieve the best angle for solar panels.
How do you determine the best angle for solar panels?
While roof design and the seasons of the year can affect the optimum angle for solar panels, the most effective way to determine the best angle for solar panels is to have it tilted and face as close to the sun as possible. This angle is equal or close to the latitude of your home address, which is somewhere between 30° to 45° for most homes in the US.
Is finding the best angle for solar panels crucial?
Although it is essential to correctly angle solar panels during installations, the most crucial factor in getting the best energy output is the orientation of your panels. Even if your solar panels are tilted at a correct angle, if it is not faced in the optimal direction, you’re not getting the most out of your solar system.
So again, remember that areas in the Northern Hemisphere or above the equator should have their panels facing true south and those in the Southern Hemisphere facing true north for best results. (While the best angle will be the same or close to the latitude of your address.)
Ready to go solar?
Regardless of where your house is located and the type of roof you have, using solar power will provide tremendous benefits, including savings in the bank.
If you’re in the market for the best solar power backup for your home, you should check out Nature's Generator's wide range of whole-house solar generators. Our generators are designed to efficiently harness the power of the sun and deliver your home power requirements. In addition, they are expandable so that you can customize your solar system based on your needs.
If you have questions and want to know more about how you can correctly install solar panels, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
* We want to give credit where credit is due. Professional writer, Ishna Sablaya, contributed research and content to this blog titled: Best Angle for Solar Panels Thank you, Ishna, for your contributions!