If you are considering get solar panels To adorn your roof and energize your home, there’s plenty to consider. Aside from how much power each panel can produce, how many panels you’ll need, what size, and how well they’ll work with your roof, you’ll also want to consider the best orientation for your solar panels.
The Best Orientation For Your Solar Panels
As you may have guessed, the orientation of your panels can be a big factor when it comes to how much power your rooftop solar system produces. In this article we will talk about a couple of options for the positioning of solar panels based on the tariff structures of different public companies.
What is the best orientation for my solar panels?
The traditional advice is to position the solar panels facing south. This is because for those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is always in the southern part of the sky, as we make our annual orbit around it. As such, the best practice to date has always been to position solar panels facing south to capture the maximum amount of sunlight globally.
In general, it is well known in the solar industry that these south-facing panels should be tilted at an angle of between 30 and 40 degrees. This angle varies and is roughly the same as your home latitude (how far north you are relative to the equator).
The reasoning behind this angle specificity is to ensure that sunlight hits the panels at a perpendicular angle, which is what produces the most power. An angle below these precepts also helps snow slide off solar panels more easily during winter in northern latitudes.
Some roofs have almost the perfect pitch, so that leaves it up to installers to set the panels flush with the roof and at a good angle to capture the sun’s energy. Other roofs might have a higher slope and others practically none. Depending on the type of roof you have, there are different mounting systems that help position your solar modules for optimal production.
Why You Should Consider Western Facing Solar Panels
South-facing panels work well when you have a tier-based rate structure with your utility. This rate system charges you based on how much energy you consume on average. If you are a high energy user, you are charged a higher rate than those who use less energy in general.
If you have a time-of-use (TOU) rate structure, then western-oriented panels might make more sense. This is because hourly usage rates mean that you will be charged more for electricity during peak consumption times, rather than by volume of consumption.
Peak consumption hours are when most people need and consume energy. In most places, this occurs in the late afternoon or early evening. It is so because it is usually when we return from school or work and turn on the AC, cook dinner, do homework, watch TV, and other activities that might require electricity for lighting and other electrical needs.
During these hours, the sun will be on its way to the western horizon to set. If your solar panels face west, you will be able to capture sunlight during the most critical hours for the best energy production.
The advantage here is that you can use the energy that your panels are producing live. When you do this, you avoid having to pull extra power from the utility grid, which means you won’t be charged higher utility rates.
The difference could be a big one if you consider that it is possible to generate a 49 percent more of energy during peak electrical needs in areas with hourly rates of use if they have panels facing west.
Of course, another way to avoid time-of-use fees is to install a solar backup battery. With a battery, you can store energy during the hours when sunlight is hitting your solar panels the most, no matter their orientation. Then you can use that stored energy when you want to avoid high public rates.
Talk to a professional about the best orientation for your solar panels on your home
You do not have to make this decision alone. While we can’t predict the future, here at Vivint Solar we’re always up to date with what’s happening in the utility industry. If we know what’s coming up in your area, we can serve you and advise you on making the best decision to save you more.
Even if you don’t have TOU rates where you live right now, they could be imminent. We’re solar professionals, and we can help you navigate options for size, orientation, and even the best ways to save with tax credits and incentives if you go solar.