How to Align Solar Panels: Problem Solving

When homeowners decide to install solar panels on the roof of their house, some are concerned that the panels may not work properly because of the type, direction and material of the roof. But in reality, the placement and alignment of solar panels is what matters most.

You can discuss your options for solar panel installation with the experts at Midwest Solar Installers. Here are some basic concepts you should know about the alignment of solar panels. 

Finding the sun

The direction your roof faces is a key factor in determining how much sun your solar panels will receive. In the northern hemisphere, south-facing roofs work best for solar, while north-facing work best in the southern hemisphere. What matters most in positioning the panels is the azimuth angle, or the angle of the sun in relation to true north and true south. Panels that face directly east or west produce about 20% less electricity than those facing south. 

In the U.S. and other northern hemisphere locations, solar panels can be installed on the north side of the roof, but that’s not a prime location. The panels can be installed with special mounts that allow them to oppose your roof’s slant to generate electricity. Alternative installation options also are an option, including ground-mounted solar or elsewhere on the property.

Tilting the solar panels 

Another consideration when it comes to the alignment of your solar panels is vertical tilt. This is the angle your solar panels tilt. For example, if your solar panels are perpendicular to the ground, they have a 90-degree tilt. Solar panels should tilt so they face the sun as closely as possible for the most efficient collection of solar energy. The best angle for solar panels is when they get the most direct, perpendicular light from the sun. Photovoltaics produce solar power when the sun’s rays hit the panel surface at the smallest angle possible, known as the angle of incidence.

Solar panel orientation versus panel angle

While it matters what angle your solar panels tilt, the direction your panels face is more important. Solar panels should be pointed south in the U.S. and in other northern hemisphere locations. That is because the sun is always in the southern half of the sky in the northern hemisphere. Even with the best tilt possible, your panels will not produce as much power if they are not facing the best direction. 

Factors impacting solar panel angle

Some of the main factors that will affect the optimal angle of your solar panels are:

  • Latitude: For most homeowners, the best angle for a solar panel array is close or equal to the latitude of your home on a south-facing roof, between 30 degrees and 45 degrees. By aligning the tilt of your solar panels to the latitude of your home, you ensure the maximum average output from your solar power system throughout the year.
  • Roof design: Every rooftop is unique. Some will have ideal slopes between 30 degrees and 45 degrees, allowing solar panels to lie flush and produce plenty of electricity to pay for the solar system. Others will have steep roofs, making it difficult to place panels in the best way. In some cases, flat roofs can accommodate some solar panels that can be properly tilted, but there may be limits on how many panels the roof can handle. This is when you need an experienced solar expert like Midwest Solar Installers to identify your best options.
  • Time of year: The hot, summer sun works best to generate the maximum amount of power from your solar panels, but they will still produce energy in the winter. In cold, snowy climates with lots of cloud cover, the amount of solar power generated will decrease. During this time, the sun is low in relation to the horizon and not in as prime a position to provide the most solar power possible. Proper tilting and placement of panels in these environments will boost your energy potential. 

The proper alignment and tilting of your solar panel array will go a long way in helping to produce as much solar power as possible with your system. You can discuss all of the variables affecting your solar power system’s potential with the pros at Midwest Solar Installers. They can inspect your home’s position, the slope of your roof, the best location for solar panels, and how best to install your system. Even if your home is not built in the ideal location for solar or the roof is not facing the optimal direction, you can benefit from solar power.

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More property owners are opting for solar energy as their preferred choice of renewable forms of energy. As more concerns surface about the impact of global warming and the increas