Best Direction to Face Solar Panels
In 2019, more than 2 million U.S. homes were equipped with solar panels. Solar arrays are used in just about every part of the country, but the direction in which they face is important. Each solar panel must be exposed to direct sunlight to produce the most electricity.
In the northern hemisphere, solar panels should generally face south toward the sun. But this isn’t typically the same as magnetic south, or where a compass will point to. Panels should face geographic south, or towards the South Pole. The opposite is true in the southern hemisphere, where panels should face true north instead.
However, you can increase the amount of sunlight reaching solar panels by rotating them slightly west of due south. In this position, they can collect more energy later in the day. After all, most people use their home appliances during the evening hours.
Finding the Proper Angle
The angle of a solar panel should equal your geographical latitude. If your home is located at 40° latitude, the tilt angle of the panel should be 40°. The closer the panel is to the poles, the more it should tilt in the direction of the equator. A low-angle tilt in areas prone to harsh winter weather can leave panels susceptible to snow and ice accumulation, which will decrease electricity production.
By fixing a solar panel at an angle equal to the latitude of your home, you can maximize your average annual output. However, it is possible to angle solar panels perfectly on a daily basis. This requires installing a solar tracking system that links all the solar panels in the system. Solar trackers enable the panels to move with the sun. But for most homeowners, solar trackers are difficult, and expensive, to install.
Using Your Roof Design
Homeowners are often limited by their existing roof design. For roofs sloped at a 30° to 40° angle, solar panels placed flush against the roof can produce enough electricity to power a home and yield a decent return on investment. They can be installed flush against the roof. But on roofs with steeper or lower angles, placing solar panels flush against the surface will mean decreased electricity production and reduced long-term savings.
On low-angle and flat roofs, racking systems can be used to mount solar panels. Solar installers can find the optimal angle, so panels are mounted to face the sun as directly as possible. But by tilting panels up, some will be shaded. Rows of panels can be staggered to avoid this, but such a configuration limits the number of panels that can be installed.
Finding Your Optimal Solar Panel Angle
To determine the best angle to install your home solar panels, you don’t need special instruments or have any experience in this area. There are various online tools that can tell you where solar panels should face. All you need to do is enter your zip code. For example, the optimal angle in Buffalo is 43°, but in San Diego, it is 33°. A solar panel angle calculator can provide an instant value to help with installation.
Consult with Expert Contractors at Haleakala Solar & Roofing
We specialize in residential and commercial solar panel installation. Our professionals are trained to analyze your exact energy needs. We also analyze your roof orientation and location to customize your installation while factoring in potential monthly savings and tax incentives. For more information, call us at 808-400-4181 or fill out our online form to receive a free quote.