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Which Direction Should Solar Panels Face?

Photo by Nuno Marques on Unsplash

Why opt for ‘enough’ when you can maximize the use of your solar system? The placement of your system is just as important as the type you purchased. Optimal positioning isn’t rocket science; it’s about the best direction for modules to face. Read on. Let’s teach you how to intensify the power output of your Florida home solar panels.

Why is it essential to correctly mount your solar panels?

We cannot overstate how solar panels’ direction and angle influence production potential and efficiency.

Direction: What direction should solar panels face?

Why should I care about direction? The answer is simple, “because your system captures the most energy when sun rays hit the surface at a perpendicular angle.” I bet your next question is how to get the best orientation for solar panels.

The right direction for your panel is south. If you reside in the Northern Hemisphere, your modules should face the true south while residents in the Southern Hemisphere like Australia should face their modules true north.

Angle

Regarding angle or tilt, arrays in the east and west produce more power at a tilt of fewer than 30 degrees. Starting from 5 p.m., westward panels produce 55% of their peak output while their southwards counterparts will only manage a 15% output.

This study found that roof-mounted modules in Belgium produce the most energy when tilted at an angle of 34.5 degrees.

The key to maximizing solar efficiency is locating the optimal direction and tilt for your modules.

Ground-mounted systems are better positioned to harness sun rays than rooftop systems. Before choosing a mounting, first, learn the differences between ground mount vs. roof mount solar panels.

What is a solar panel’s best direction?

According to a California Public Utility Commission study published in 2011, westward modules were better at offsetting than the conventional southwards ones with a greater annual yield.

Didn’t we state earlier that the best direction for solar panels to face is southwards? Of course, the south remains best overall. But our definition of the best orientation for solar panels needs reviewing.

Your modules’ optimal solar panel orientation and best direction are defined by latitude, climate conditions, sunray characteristics, and utilization time. Let’s get into the details one after the other.

Latitude establishes the panel angle needed to increase the power output of your system. The climate and sunlight are weather conditions in your environment. The utilization time is the period in the day when energy is needed the most.

The best direction for solar systems in Florida is westward. Because homes with west-facing panels required less electricity by 65% instead of a 54% reduction in the traditional true-south orientation. A westward orientation captures more energy late in the afternoon, the perfect timing for most workers.

These homeowners needed much energy at that time since it was when they usually came back from work, and they needed to use the dishwasher, the air conditioning, and other appliances.

After extensive research, we discovered that although advisable, sticking to a southern or western orientation might not be the most productive. If you rely on one, you’ll lose out on the benefits attached to the other.

Position residential panels in a slightly southwest orientation. Their modules harness energy facing the southern direction and offset more energy late afternoon. But always remember If you reside in the northern hemisphere, face your panel to the south.

What if your roof is not facing the south?

East or west, which is the best roof direction? Let’s not bore you with numbers and angles. Solar can be installed anywhere on your rooftop but just harness energy at different times of the day.

The morning sun reflects off a westward panel. The afternoon sun, which is the longest, reflects off a southward panel. The evening sun reflects off an eastward panel, the time of the day when it’s used the most.

Northward systems work best in the Southern Hemisphere. Though we suggest, you seek advice from expert installers for an optimal orientation, angle, and tilt.

You can spare yourself the headache of deciding the best spot for your system and increase output by 45%. A “tracker” is installed with your modules and rotates your modules throughout the day so they face the sun.

However, trackers are pricey, they are sold for thousands of dollars. Instead, you can opt for a cheaper and more reasonable method, buying additional modules to increase solar efficiency.

How do you calculate the optimal angle for solar panels?

The optimal angle of a module is different each day because the sun’s position determines it with respect to the Earth. The ideal solar panel angle or direction is the surest way to calculate the variable output at each panel, your best shot at increased orientation efficiency.

Here’s how to calculate the optimal angle:

Using Parametric Simulations

Parametric simulations model a fixed panel for different times and azimuth angles.

You can find your optimal angle by deducting 15 degrees from your latitude during summer and adding 15 degrees in winter. So if your latitude is 52°, your solar system’s optimum tilt angle during winter will be 52 + 14 = 66°.

Using a Tracker (Detailed Photovoltaic model)

The plot results on the heat map of a tracker also show the optimum orientation as it revolves to track the sun’s location.

Start saving with PPM Solar

Contact us at PPM Solar if you want optimal energy production and are unsure which steps to take. In that case, let’s answer all your questions. We’ll handle your connections and repairs and recommend the best equipment for your systems.

PPM Solar has suitable energy and money-saving plans that allow you to comfortably invest in solar energy for your homes and businesses in Florida.

Written by Marcus Richards

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