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The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Direction For Your Solar Panels

When it comes to installing solar panels, knowing which is the best direction for solar panel efficiency is a must. SmartSolar.org can help you install solar panels properly.
Solar Panels
5 minutes
Written by:
Joey Cheek
Updated on:
January 4, 2023

It’s a common question: what is the best direction for solar panel systems to be in to get the most overall sunlight throughout the day? Solar panels should be oriented towards true south when installing a solar panel system in the northern hemisphere. 

The opposite is true for the southern hemisphere—they should be oriented toward true north. There are many other factors to keep in mind when it comes to installing solar panels on your home. Contact SmartSolar today to find out how we can help you install solar panels with confidence.

Why Does the Direction of Solar Panels Matter?

Solar panels are most efficient when they have direct sunlight. That is, direct sunlight striking the surface of the solar cell is what activates the process and starts the electricity generation process. It is important to consider pointing the solar panels slightly away from the direct sunlight – doing so will allow you to tap into more sunlight throughout the day

Solar Panel Angle

The term "solar panel angle" is something you are likely to hear when considering installing solar systems. This is the vertical title of the solar system itself. In situations where the solar panels are perpendicular to the ground, that means they have a 90-degree angle. In this situation, to collect solar power in an efficient way, the solar panels must be angled so that they are pointing toward the sun.

To work at their best, photovoltaics need to be angled to face the sun as closely as they can, so that the angle at which the sun’s rays hit the panel surface is small. The best overall angle for solar panels is one that lets light hit them straight on.

Can You Install Solar Panels on Your Roof?

Some people think they cannot install solar panels on the roof because they think their roof faces the wrong direction. The direction matters. The direction of the roof plays a role in how much sunshine will strike the solar panels throughout the day. When you position your solar panels on a roof in a way that allows them to point true south, you can provide the best access to sunlight throughout the day.

Which Angle Is the Best for Your Solar Panel on Your Roof?

Residential solar panel systems need just the right angle, but the specific angle you need is dependent on a number of factors, including the location's latitude. That is, your location on the planet will play a role in which angle is going to produce the best possible results. In the U.S., most property owners will benefit from having their solar panel installation between 30 and 45 degrees.

Titling the solar panels at the same angle as the latitude of the house helps ensure the maximum average output from your solar power system.

How to Know What to Do

When it comes to solar energy production, every home is different. Luckily, when you are ready to consider installing solar panels, you can work with solar companies who will help determine the proper solar panel orientation for your home. Don’t assume that if your roof is not facing south that you cannot have a solar array installed. Rather, you can often have solar panels face south even when your roof does not.

One option that may work for some is the use of solar panel tracking systems. This allows for the solar panel angle to change as the sun moves through the day. Solar panels tilted at various directions throughout the day allow for them to continuously face the sun's rays, improving solar function.

Another option is to consider ground mounted solar panels. These allow for the ideal solar panel angle to be reached because they can be turned and mounted in any direction. Compared to a rooftop solar system, these have the versatility to be angled at a range of directions.

Finding the best direction for the most solar energy is a good idea. Solar installers will work with you to ensure that you have the best possible direction for solar – whether that means using solar trackers (a solar tracker follows the sun throughout the day) or using a solar array that is positioned on the ground with optimal tilt in the best direction possible – usually magnetic south.

Other Factors Matter

There are a wide range of things to keep in mind when it comes to installing solar panels:

  • The first step is to determine the electricity usage you need.
  • Then, roof direction is considered to determine where the home sits, and the sun's rays hit – generally considering the direction based on magnetic poles.
  • Factors such as the solar panel’s power output can also play a role in the process. More efficient solar panels are a big factor.
  • The optimal angle of solar panels can also change during the year – and the right angle can counteract winter production dips, for example. The solar installers will work to best understand the right angle for your home.

Sun exposure plays a role in the amount of energy the solar panels generally produce. By choosing the best solar panel system for your home with the optimal angle.

The good news is that most homes can have solar panels installed even on low angle roofs, flat roof surfaces, and those with west facing panels. That means you can install solar on your home in nearly every situation.

Joey Cheek

Finding the Best Solar Panels Solution for Your Home

Using the sun to generate energy is worthwhile. The key here is to choose the right rooftop solar system to fit your needs at the ideal solar panel angle. You do not always need more solar panels, but you need the right system installed professionally. Our team can help you. Contact SmartSolar to learn more about the solar power systems available to you.

Meet the author:

Joey Cheek

Joey Cheek spent 10 years on the US National Speedskating Team where he competed in two Olympic Games, winning gold, silver, and bronze medals. He attended Princeton before diving into the startup and tech world. In 2011 he launched a livestreaming platform for sports before leading a team of engineers building next-gen news and content apps for Fortune 100 companies. He is the CEO and co-founder of SmartSolar.org, whose mission is to move the earth to cheap, abundant, carbon-free energy.

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