What Is An Optimal Angle for Solar Panels?

Finding the Optimal Angle for Your Property

Your solar panels will need to capture the most amount of sunlight to generate the maximum amount of solar energy. To produce more power you will need to orient your solar panels the correct direction and determine the optimal angle. Both the optimal angle and orientation depend on your location on the planet. For example, for people living in the northern hemisphere, you will install your solar panels facing the southern sky and opposite direction for the southern hemisphere. This is because you want to angle your solar panels toward the equator because that is the path the sun follows.

The best angle may also depend on how much solar power you want to produce and when. For example, to get the best performance out of your solar panels you would face them due south at the optimum angle so that the panel is receiving as much sunlight as possible at this time. You can achieve this by installing an automated mechanical solar tracker.


Point Due South In The Northern Hemisphere

Orientation tells us what direction your roof faces. The plane of your roof should face as close to due south as possible. This is because the sun is always at least a little bit to the south of straight overhead in the northern hemisphere. A southwest or southeast roof face is normally just fine and only results in a small total reduction in the solar power you can produce. A north facing roof will not work.

If you want the maximum solar performance during the summer months, we will install your solar panels according to the height of the sun in the sky during and oriented facing the southern sky. At solar noon (exactly half way between sunrise and sunset) the solar irradiance from the sun is at its peak. At this time you can generate the most power.


Flat Versus Angle Solar Panels

This topic has been researched thoroughly in the solar industry and it boils down to the economics of both. Yes, you are able to generate more power when you have an automated mechanical solar tracker, but you will also pay a higher upfront cost because of needed materials and will need to maintain your system thoroughly for the 25 years the system is warrantied.

So how much efficiency do I lose if I chose flat solar panels? Research suggests that with an automated solar tracker, you will gain only 0.6 kilowatts (600 watts) while paying for a more expensive and more laborious solar panel system. It is sometimes possible to generate more power when you install flat solar panels for less the price of an automated solar tracker. The only drawback is you will need more available space.


Automated Solar Tracking Versus Flat Solar Panels

You can benefit from more solar power if you have the ability to automatically adjust your solar panels on a minute-by-minute basis. These systems are called automated mechanical solar tracker and while they can maximize your solar production they are unfortunately not very economical.

We recommended non-automated or flat roof panels because they have a better rate of return on your investment and 25-year zero maintenance compared to a mechanical tracker with moving parts.