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Best Angle for Solar Panels

By Benjamin Strusnik March 15, 2022

Best Angle for Solar Panels

When solar panels are facing directly into the sun, they operate at their best. However, the fact that the sun moves across the sky throughout the day makes finding the optimal angle for solar panels more difficult. 

As the seasons change, it also changes the sun’s position in the sky.

Some people prefer to set up their solar power system once and forget about it, while others prefer to get hands-on with their system and tweak it to achieve the best results.

This article looks at the best angle for solar panels and how it can help you harness more solar energy as the sun's angle changes.

Solar Panel Angle

The course of the sun in the sky changes all the time. In the winter, it's lower in the sky, and in the summer, it's higher.

Installers must consider the tilt of solar panels because they are most efficient when they are perpendicular to the sun. The tilt of the panel in roof-mounted systems is determined by the pitch of the roof. The installer won't be able to do much about that, but when calculating the system's predicted solar production, they'll have to account for the panel tilt. 

But what is the ideal solar panel angle? That's when things get tricky.

solar panels angle

There are so many things that affect the optimal angle of your solar panel. So, when deciding on the proper angle for your panels, you should keep the following things in mind:

Latitude and Location

The best solar panel angle is determined by your latitude and location. Latitude is the angle that the sun rays form with the surface of the earth during the equinox. 

The equinox is the two times in the year when the sun crosses the celestial equator when day and night are roughly equal in length. 

This usually happens around March March 21 and September 23. As you move further away from the Equator, the latitude reading rises.

As a result, the sun is perpendicular to the equator at the equinox and the amount of sunlight that each hemisphere gets is the same.

It is around this time that you should align your solar panels with the Equator. If you’re in areas such as Australia, New Zealand, or anywhere else in the southern hemisphere, you'd have to tilt your panels north. 

But, if you’re in America, Russia, Europe, or other locations in the north, then you’d tilt your solar panels toward the south.  

Calculating this angle for your latitude is easy; all you have to do is choose your latitude. Your panels will face the sun directly if you tilt them at the angle of your latitude. As a result, they’ll get enough sun all year because the sun only moves about 15 degrees south or north.

Roof Design

Steep Roof

Although it would be ideal if everyone's roofs were inclined at the same angle as their latitude, not all homes are the same. Solar panels can be put flush against the roof and generate enough power to give you good returns with a slope of 30 to 40 degrees.

Traditional racking solutions can make it difficult to arrange your solar power system at the correct tilt if you're trying to install them on a steep roof.

optimal solar panel angle

As a better alternative, solar panels can be installed by laying them flat against the roof because the slope of your steep roof may already be larger than the optimal angle for production.

Flat Roof

Solar panel installation on roofs with lower angles will be difficult, and if you want to tilt them at the ideal angle, you'll need specialist racking. You will get less electricity when you put the panels flush against these sorts of roofs, resulting in lesser solar savings as time goes on.

If your roof is completely flat, we strongly advise slanting the solar panels at least 10 degrees. This is important because it allows rainwater to quickly run off the modules.

If rainfall collects on the solar panel's surface, it is more likely to pass past the panels' seals and into the solar cells themselves. If this happens, the panel will be rendered useless because an earth fault will occur, necessitating the replacement of the module. 

Many panels have a warranty condition that requires them to be installed at least 10 degrees above horizontal, therefore failing to do so could void your guarantee.

The Direction of the Roof

Many people's roofs face east and west rather than north and south. Orienting your solar panels to the east allows you to capture a lot of morning sunlight and generate a lot of electricity.

If your solar panels are facing west, they will continue to produce more in the late afternoon when the sun is hot. When it comes to producing solar energy for personal use, such an orientation works well.

solar panel angle efficiency loss

But, if you want to get the most power out of your solar panels, you'll want to position them at the best tilt angle for your specific location. They will be able to produce more electricity in the morning and afternoon this way.

Changing Season

If you want to generate the most electricity all year, you'll need to adjust the tilt angle according to the season. 

The apparent position of the sun in the earth's sky varies with the season and time of day. You can get the most out of your panels by adjusting them to face the sun at all times.

Can solar panels work without direct sunlight? Yes, so you won’t have to worry about your solar panels not working in the winter because of a couple of clouds.  

However, due to snow covering your panels and reducing their power output, it’s possible that you’ll notice a decrease in total energy generated especially if the winter is harsh.

Because the sun is low in relation to the horizon in the northern hemisphere during the winter, installing solar panels at a steeper angle than your latitude, approximately 60 degrees, is one strategy to overcome winter production declines. 

what is the best angle for solar panels

Further, because the light will be shining from a lower point in the sky in the winter, your panels will perform better because they will be facing the sun more directly.

Another option to limit seasonal variance in production is to adjust the angle of your solar panels twice a year, in the spring and fall. In fact, at a latitude of 40 degrees, a system can receive a large energy boost of roughly 4%.

Best Angle for Solar Panels FAQs

Which is more important: the orientation of solar panels or their angle?

While getting the optimum angle for your system is important, finding the best direction for your solar panels matters the most for your energy production. If you live in the northern hemisphere, your solar panels should face south because the sun is always in the southern half of the sky in the northern hemisphere.

Even if it implies the best tilt possible, installing solar panels in a less-than-ideal direction is not a good choice.

What roof pitch is best for solar panels?

Roofs with angles of 45 to 85 degrees are ideal for rooftop solar panel installation because the photovoltaic cells' surface area will be exposed enough to benefit from the sun's rays at these lower angles.

What happens to solar panels on facade buildings?

You'll get very little power if you install your solar panels vertically. However, if the building has particular limits that need solar panels to be positioned on the sides rather than the roofs, this could make sense.

The answer to getting rid of snow accumulation throughout the winter might be vertical installation. However, experts say that solar panels should be set at the optimal tilt angle.

Final Thoughts

The angle of inclination of solar panels has an impact on their performance. To get the most out of solar panels, you'll need to alter the angle based on both latitude and season.

In real life, you're frequently faced with set roof angles with no way to modify or tilt the solar panels. As a result, solar systems are placed at a variety of tilt degrees to meet a variety of roof pitches seen on residences, saving homeowners money.

In the end, the best solar panel angle can boost output, but failure to achieve it isn't a train smash.

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