One of the most important aspects of designing a solar energy system is identifying the best placement of your solar panels. Getting the placement right first time can have a huge impact on the efficiency of your system over the course of its lifetime resulting in a faster payback on your investment.
When we talk about the best placement of solar panels this can actually mean several things:
- Direction – What is the best direction of solar panels? Is it north, east, south or west?
- Tilt – What is the optimum angle solar panels should be tilted at?
- Environment – Does the surrounding environment impact on where solar panels should be placed?
Below we will take a look at the placement of solar panels in relation to the above aspects.
Best Direction for Solar Panels to Face
The best direction for solar panels to face depends on where you live in relation to the equator as the optimum placement of solar panels varies depending on whether you live in the northern or southern hemisphere.
In the northern hemisphere, solar panels should be positioned due south for best performance and in the southern hemisphere, they should be positioned due north. This positioning has the best chance of collecting solar rays for the most part of the day as the sun tracks across the sky. Other factors do come into play when choosing the best placement of solar panels and these will be discussed in the following sections.
Optimum Tilt for Solar Panels
When deciding on the best placement of solar panels you should also take into account the optimum tilt they should be positioned at. If the angle of the solar panels is too high or too low then this will have a severe impact on the level of solar energy they are able to collect.
Identifying the optimum tilt for your solar panels depends on several variables including the time of year and the latitude of where you live. It’s impossible to say what the optimum tilt for your solar panel should be without having this calculated by a professional.
Most solar panel installations are fixed with no option to alter the tilt angle throughout the course of year as the sun changes its course. Some solar panels however can have their tilt manually altered at different times of the year and more advanced installations are capable of doing this automatically. For fixed solar panels, an average tilt is often calculated by the installer to give you a better chance of generating the most electricity over the course of the year.
Placement Concerns for Your Environment
The surrounding environment and regional climate can also have an effect on the best placement of solar panels.
If a solar panel is placed on a south facing roof in the northern hemisphere which is shaded by a tree then this can reduce the level of sunlight the solar panel will receive. If the east or west sides of the roof are free from the shade then these locations may offer increased efficiency. You should make note of how shadows track throughout the course of the day to see if this is a constant problem or not. Solar panels are perfectly capable of operating in shaded environments however densely shaded areas can become problematic.
The climate can also have an impact on the positioning of solar panel systems. You should look to avoid areas that experience hot or cold climates as the ambient air temperature can impact greatly on the efficiency of a solar panel.
So there we have the basics on the best placement of a solar panel system. Various factors need to be calculated based on the latitude of your installation in order to achieve the best performance. A reputable solar panel installation company will be able to perform calculations for your location.