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Solar Angle Calculator

By Benjamin Strusnik November 08, 2022

It’s all about angles.

If you want to get the maximum output out of your solar panels, then using a solar angle calculator is the way to go.

Join us as we break down all the important concepts and definitions surrounding the angle of a solar panel as well as its orientation. 

Solar Panel Orientation Calculator

Solar orientation refers to the angle at which you aim an object towards the sun, in this case, solar panels. 

solar panel angle calculator

Any solar technology receives the greatest amount of energy when oriented at a direct 90-degree angle toward the sun.

However, this isn’t an easy task as the sun’s position in the sky is constantly moving.

Using the sun as a variable in our solar equations helps us in many ways. For example, using the peak sun hours helps us know the size of our solar system.

The sun’s orientation helps installation teams know whether your location is ripe for a solar system.

East-facing solar panels produce the most power during the morning, while west-facing solar panels produce the most power during the evening. 

It’s possible to combine the east and west into one system, with a single panel for each direction.

However, everything is based on application.

If you work away from home during the day, this setup will work best as you generally need less power during the day.

this means your home and deep cycle battery for solar use are staying powered while you’re away at work.

South-facing solar systems produce around 15% more power than the combination of the east and west. If you manage to get the maximum efficiency out of your panels, you may even be able to remove yourself from the grid entirely.

Check out an off-grid solar calculator to find out how much energy you need to generate to make this possible.

The choice of your solar panel’s orientation depends on when and why you want to use your solar system.

Solar Panel Tilt Calculator

solar panel tilt calculator

Before we can start using the tilt angle in our PV solar calculator or any other calculator, we need to understand what tilt angles are and why they’re important.

Tilt Angle

If solar panels are placed flat on the ground, there won’t be any angles to work with. Tilt angles come into the equation as soon as the solar panel is slanted.

It’s the angle formed between the horizontal plane and the pitch of a solar panel. The keyword here is ‘horizontal’ as the tilt angle is always measured relative to a horizontal plane.

Once people have used an off-grid solar calculator or one for a home, they purchase all the components needed for the solar system.

A common misconception is that once you place your solar panels on a sloped roof, the tilt angle is zero as it’s not on a flat surface.

The sloped roof considers the horizontal plane despite it being placed on a sloped surface, so you need to take the slope angle into account relevant to the ground.

When a solar panel is placed flat with a tilt angle of zero, the sunlight strikes the panels and most of it is reflected. The reason for this is that the sunlight doesn’t incident the panels perpendicularly.

This can be avoided by tilting the panels, ensuring maximum absorption.

How to Find Tilt Angle Based on Location

To find out what tilt angle is suitable for your location, you need to know the daily movement of the sun.

There are 3 main positions to choose from when wanting to tilt the solar panel. The first is the mean position, the second is the winter, and the third is the summer position.

optimal solar panel angle calculator

The decision of your tilt is based on the application of your solar panels.

If you want to generate the maximum amount of solar energy in your solar application, you should use the mean position. 

This angle receives sunlight throughout the year and is positioned at 10 degrees due South.

It’s different if you want to increase your generation capacity during winter. In that case, you should opt for the winter tilt as it accounts for the sun’s lower position in the sky during the season. This is 40 degrees due South.

The same logic applies to the summer tilt position, with that tilt measuring at around 12 degrees due North.

As a basic rule of thumb, we can say the ideal degree of tilt of our solar panel should be approximately equal to the latitude of our current location.

Bear in mind, if you’re using a portable solar panel setup, your solar tilt is going to change any time you move your panels. Use an RV solar calculator to find out how to set up portable panels in the most efficient way.

Solar Panel Azimuth Calculator

The solar azimuth angle is the compass direction from which sunlight is coming in and hitting the surface of the panel. It measures the angle of the sun relative to the north in an eastward direction.

When the positioning of the sun is due north in the sky, the azimuth is zero. And if it’s due east, the angle will be 90 degrees. The angle increments by 90 through North, East, South, and West.

The Azimuth angle, as with most angles relating to solar calculators, changes depending on various factors.

These include the time of day, the season, and the latitude of your location.

On the equinoxes, the sun rises directly east and sets directly west regardless of the latitude. This makes the azimuth angles 90 degrees at sunrise and 270 degrees at sunset.

Solar Angles Chart

solar panel orientation calculator

Solar angle charts are used to show how the sun’s position changes throughout the year. In most charts, the y-axis is the solar elevation starting at 0 and ending at 90 degrees.

The x-axis is the sun’s direction on a compass, also known as the azimuth, that we discussed earlier. Its center is 180 degrees due south.

When the altitude and azimuth intersect, it shows the sun’s position in the sky.

Using what we already have on the chart, we can graph the position lines representing the hours of the day. This shows the solar window.

If you don’t want to physically draw these charts out, there are plenty of calculators and generators that ask you to input variables like peak sun hours and location.

How to Calculate Solar Zenith Angle

The solar zenith angle is complementary to the solar altitude angle. This means that 90 degrees minus the altitude angle are equal to the solar zenith angle.

The zenith angle is the angle between the sun and the vertical plane. It’s like the elevation angle with the only difference being that it isn’t measured from the horizontal. 


Now that you know you to use a solar angle calculator, you’ll be able to find the perfect position to install your solar panels to keep your solar-powered generator running.

optimum solar panel angle calculator

That’s not everything you need, though. You also need to know how to calculate your solar voltage drop and use a sun peak hour calculator. Luckily for you, we have plenty of resources to keep you up to date.

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