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Angling Your Solar Panels for Maximum Efficiency

You're investing a lot of money into your new solar panel system. It's only natural that you want it to achieve peak performance. Learning the tricks to positioning will help you do just that.

How important is positioning?

Properly angled solar panels on a home in New Jersey can produce a significant amount more solar energy than improperly angled panels in Arizona!

To get the most out of your solar panels, you'll need to point them in the direction that captures the maximum amount of sunlight. There are several variables to consider when positioning your solar panels.

Solar Panel Tracking

Tracking panels are designed to follow the sun's rays, and therefore can be up to 40% more effective than fixed panels. The downside to tracking panels is they are much more expensive than fixed, which can greatly increase your payback time.

Fixed panels, or ones with a tilt that can be adjusted seasonally, are efficient and affordable options for providing solar energy for your home.

As you already know, solar panels need a clear connection with the sun's rays; trees or buildings should never block them. Experts say that if just one of a PV systemÕs 36 cells is shaded, power production will be reduced by 50%.

Where to Locate Panels on Your Roof

Only certain areas of your roof are viable for collecting the sun's energy, so it's important to learn the proper way to angle your modules.

First, you must know which direction to face the panels. Non-tracking PV systems in the Northern Hemisphere should always face true south. And likewise, solar panels in the Southern Hemisphere should always face true north.

The positioning angle may sound complicated, but itÕs actually very simple to calculate. This angle directly relates to the angle of latitude. For example, if you live at 12 degrees North of the equator, your panel should face directly South at a 12-degree angle.

It's best to be exact, but anywhere within 15 degrees to either side of your optimal setting wonÕt cause much loss in power or efficiency.

Fixed Tilt Panels

If you use the most energy in the winter, you may want to keep your panels tilted to the winter setting. Although you could get more energy during other seasons by adjusting the tilt, you can receive ample power without making adjustments.

Compared to tracking panels, the efficiency of a fixed panel is somewhat lower in spring, summer, and fall than in winter. This is due to the sun's wider range of movement during these seasons.

Adjusting Tilts for Different Seasons

You may want to adjust your solar panels twice a year for maximum performance. The sun is high overhead in the summer months, so your solar panel should be tilted at a lower angle. During the winter, the sun moves across the sky at a lower angle, so by angling your panels higher, they'll catch more sunlight.

Adjusting your panels from summer to winter settings is not difficult. A simple ratchet system can be used on the solar panel angle mount to shift the position.

To learn more about setting the tilt for your solar panels, see this solar angle calculator.