In Which Direction Should Solar Panels Be Installed?

In Which Direction Should Solar Panels Be Installed - 3

Solar panels are innovative technologies actively used to power homes. When installing an alternative energy source, choosing the right direction for solar panels is important. These batteries will produce much more electricity directly facing the sun. Some utility-scale solar farms have systems that can track the movement of the celestial body, but not everyone can afford such options due to their high cost. Therefore, you must immediately select the best direction for solar panels. You will find more about it in this material.

Optimizing the Orientation of Your Solar Panels: Which Direction Should a Solar Panel Face

Every homeowner, who is about to install a solar system, wants to set it up so that the energy source works as efficiently as possible.

When choosing the best solar panel orientation, it is essential to consider two criteria:

  • tilt angle – the smaller it is, the more the panels face the sky;
  • azimuth – the horizontal angle at which the solar panels look relative to the equator.

Azimuth orientation refers to the compass direction your solar panels are facing. If you look towards the equator (for the northern hemisphere, it will be south, and for the southern hemisphere, it will be north), getting maximum energy during the day is possible. You need to consider this when choosing the optimal solar panel orientation.

In Which Direction Should Solar Panels Be Installed - 1

Source: SolarDesignGuide 

It is important to remember that when we mean the concept of “South,” we are talking about the geographical location of the cardinal point and not about the magnetic one. Thus, when you point the batteries south using the compass, there may be a slight deviation from the optimal azimuth.

In Which Direction Should Solar Panels Be Installed - 2

Source: SolarReviews 

Solar panel placement is also essential. Elements surrounding the panel (buildings, trees, and so on) should not cast a shadow on it. In addition, achieving 100% solar radiation is necessary, so no battery part should be in the shade.

As for the tilt, for the optimal conversion of sunlight into electricity, it is required to install the batteries at an angle so that they face directly into the sun. We will talk about this in more detail below.

Which Way Should Solar Panels Face: The Angle of Solar Panels

It’s important to follow one simple rule – the angle of inclination of the battery must be equal to the geographic latitude o choose the right degree of tilt for solar panels. In other words, if you are at a latitude of 45 degrees, the panels should be set at a 45° angle.

This solar panel direction ensures the natural light will hit them perpendicularly, ensuring maximum power generation.

Regarding the optimal solar panel position, examining how weather and seasons affect the alternative energy source is worth exploring. 

Let’s take heavy snowfall as an example. People living in regions with a lot of such rainfall note that this can reduce the energy efficiency of solar panels. In this case, tilting the batteries at a steeper angle (60 degrees) is worth it because snow and debris will not accumulate on the panels.

There are plenty of nuances of the best direction for solar panels. Hence, experienced professionals should install batteries. They will design an optimally functioning solar energy system and carefully consider the location, angle of inclination, and other subtleties of installation, reducing any risk to zero.

Can’t Have Solar Panels Installed on Your Roof? Think About Communal Solar

There are several reasons why people refuse to install solar systems:

  • Unsuitable existing roof structure
  • Not the perfect placement of the household (the roof does not face south)
  • Price

Next, let’s look at how to solve each of these problems.

If the roof of your house is not suitable for installing solar panels, is too steep, or vice versa, there is still a way out. On a too-steep roof, you can lay the batteries flat. For flat roofs, as a rule, unique shelving systems are used. Using them, you can provide the optimal direction for solar panels and position them at the most effective angle.

For homeowners whose roofs do not face south, there are also options for how to position solar panels. For example, systems can be located on the ground.

In this case, you will be able to do the following:

  • Install energy sources at the optimal angle and direction, thereby maximizing the output power of the sun
  • Take care of the system for maintenance without any issues since climbing onto the roof is unnecessary

However, ground types of structures have one disadvantage – a higher price. The cost of the issue is another reason why people deny themselves alternative sources of electricity. In this case, the solar panel community will be the optimal solution to the problem. 

Collective solar power (local solar farm or project) will help you actively use renewable, alternative sources of electricity without installing the system on your territory. You can lower your energy bills by saving on buying and installing panels.

What About Solar Tracking Systems?

If the price of the issue is less important, another option on how to choose the best direction to point solar panels would be the use of solar trackers. As you know, the sun changes its position throughout the year. 

Therefore, the only solution for choosing the optimal solar panel direction and angle will be to install a celestial body tracking system. The tracker follows the beams even if the sun itself barely moves, thus producing the most efficient energy. In addition, tracking systems are great for ground-based solar installations.

For many solar energy users, a rooftop system is the cheapest solution. The downside of the issue is that solar trackers are pretty expensive. On absolutely any roof, this option is not easy to install. As a rule, commercial projects use them since solar tracking systems significantly increase energy efficiency.

Which Is More Critical, Solar Panel Orientation or Angle?

Due to the various nuances associated with determining the optimal angle of the panels, many people consider this factor the most important when installing. However, this is not true. 

When choosing the best direction for solar panels, you should, first of all, pay attention to the direction where the batteries are facing. If the orientation is incorrect, the system will not be exposed to sufficient sunlight. As a result, the power output will drop sharply. In other words, a wrong angle with the correct direction will produce more electricity than a correct one with the wrong orientation.

So, if you live in the north, your panels should “face” the actual (geographic) south for optimal results. It is in this part of the sky in the northern hemisphere where the sun is always located. Therefore, this will be the best direction for solar panels.

Solar panels can help improve your home’s energy efficiency, but there are many factors to consider when choosing the best position for solar panels. It’s best to go to professionals to avoid various difficulties. Employees of a proven company have all the necessary knowledge and skills. They will recommend the most suitable equipment for your case and carefully consider all the parameters for the most efficient solar power generation system installation.

Common Inquiries Concerning the Ideal Solar Panel Angle

As mentioned earlier, many factors are worth considering when it comes to such a topic as optimal direction for solar panels and calculating the angle of inclination of the battery. Because of this, many homeowners are still trying to figure out what to do when installing systems in the first place.

Next, we invite you to read the most frequently asked questions about the best roof direction for solar panels and their orientation. We hope this helps you get the information you need.

Solar panel direction by zip code:

Albuquerque NM 87102 35° 50° 20°
Austin TX 78701 30° 45° 15°
Boston MA 02101 42° 57° 27°
Buffalo NY 14209 43° 58° 28°
Charlotte NC 28202 35° 50° 20°
Denver CO 80293 40° 55° 25°
Los Angeles CA 90012 34° 49° 19°
New York NY 10004 41° 56° 26°
Newark NJ 07102 41° 56° 26°
Phoenix AZ 85013 33° 48° 18°
Portland OR 97205 46° 61° 31°
Raleigh NC 27608 36° 51° 21°
San Diego CA 94104 33° 48° 18°
San Francisco CA 94104 38° 53° 23°
Washington D.C. N/A 20001 39° 54° 24°
Tuscon AZ 85701 32° 47° 17°
Miami FL 33109 25° 40° 10°
Richmond VA 23236 37° 52° 22°
Detroit MI 48201 42° 57° 27°


Do Solar Panels Need To Be Tilted, and Why?

It is necessary to tilt the solar panels, and it is essential. Thanks to this that they will be able to collect energy efficiently. Tilt panels at the same angle as the latitude of your home. This way, you can get the maximum average power from the solar energy system all year round.

How To Determine the Best Angle for Tilting Solar Panels

Calculating the optimal angle of inclination depends on where you live. When you think about the best solar panel direction, there is one simple rule to follow – they should be as close to the sun as possible. This results in the optimal angle for most users being equal to or close to the latitude at which their home is located.

What Is the Best Direction To Face Solar Panels?

The best exposure for solar panels for homes in the northern hemisphere is true south (geographical). It’s because the sun is always in the southern part of the sky here. As a result, the direction of the panels to the south means the most direct exposure to sunlight. Here it is very important to understand that installing the batteries in the right direction is desirable to obtain the optimal angle of inclination.

Do Solar Panels Have To Face South?

Of course, the south is considered the best solar panels direction, where you get the most out of renewable energy. For households in the northern hemisphere, focusing on this side of the world is best.

Can Solar Panels Face West or East?

West and East directions are not ideal options that you should focus on when placing systems (for households in the northern hemisphere). However, even in this case, solar panels can still capture light and generate electricity.

Seasonal Adjustment of the SB Tilt Angle: Effective or Not?

Low energy generation in winter, early spring, and late autumn periods can be increased. Snow cover hinders electricity generation, as does the reduction in solar radiation. If the design of the solar station is not fixed, you can change the solar panels’ direction and angle twice a year, in autumn and spring. This measure will improve system performance.

The optimal solar panel positioning in summer is horizontal; in winter, it is vice versa. Each latitude has its appropriate slope index. Maximum performance of solar panels by season at tilt:

  • For the summer period from April to September – 270 – 400
  • For the winter season from October to March – 530 – 750
  • For spring and autumn, the optimal solar panel facing direction is equal to the area’s latitude or the average angle between the summer and winter seasons.

The error-free tilt angle for the whole year is 530 for fixed installations. But what is the best direction for solar panels to face? Here are some of the common recommendations:

  • Network solar power plants should be mounted at an angle of 36-390; this is the optimal value for active generation in spring.
  • For autonomous systems from which generation is expected year-round, the best direction solar panels will have a slope of 700 in winter. This way, the snow doesn’t remain on the surface for a long time and does not prevent the receipt of solar energy, and 300 in summer – to increase the absorption of solar radiation from a larger panel plane.

The inclination angle can be adjusted by installing telescopic mounting structures that allow tilting the panels from 30 to 60 degrees.

Suppose it’s impossible to choose which direction is best for solar panels. In that case, it is recommended to install batteries at an angle equal to the latitude of the station location.

Solar Panel Orientation Efficiency: Effects of Snowfall on Solar Generation

Discussions about the need to clean the panels from snow have occurred since the advent of SES elements. Deciding which way solar panels face is not enough to get the required amount of energy from the station all year round.

Panel icing and snow cover prevent sunlight from reaching the system’s photovoltaic cells. Therefore, the snow mustn’t linger on the surface. Ground stations can be cleaned after every snowfall. The roof panels make cleaning more difficult, requiring natural snow removal due to the danger of working on the roof. Moreover, the optimal solar panel direction does not play a role in this case.

Mounting the structure at an angle of 900 will provide sunlight access to the panel throughout the winter. Cleaning, physical or natural, increases electricity generation in winter from 1 to 5.5%, depending on the slope of the batteries. By lowering the inclination angle from 53 to 14 degrees, the gap between the modules cleared of snow and uncleaned will increase significantly.

It is easier to change the way solar panels face by mounting the station on a movable structure that turns the panels into a favorable position behind the sun both in season and during the day. The installation of solar power plants on solar trackers contributes to maximizing energy production.

Kateryna Ryzha

Kateryna Ryzha

Kateryna is an experienced writer with a focus in solar energy. She is a specialist in several topics related to energy efficiency, technical applications, renewable energy, and more as a consequence of her extensive reading.

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