Solar Panel Orientation: How it Affects Performance
Solar panel orientation determines the productivity of your solar system. Where you live determines the correct orientation for your solar panels.
If you live in the southern hemisphere, the correct orientation for your solar panels is trues north. If you live in the northern hemisphere, the correct orientation is true south.
Proper orientation ensures that your solar panels produce electricity efficiently. Thus, you can enjoy the benefits of solar power.
Proper orientation allows solar panels to enjoy maximum exposure to the sun.
The sun’s rays must hit the solar panels perpendicularly for maximum production. Proper orientation allows for this to happen.
When solar panels are exposed to the sun well, they produce as expected. Depending on the capacity of your solar panels, they will generate the rated power.
Many solar panels produce less power than the rating based on how they receive the sun.
Proper solar panel orientation allows the panels to have more access to the sun throughout the day.
Period Of Sun Exposure
When oriented correctly, solar panels have exposure to the sun for the whole day. As a result, they can produce maximum power all day.
Panels installed in the correct orientation can trap the sun’s rays as soon as it rises. They will catch the rays perfectly as the sun moves across the sky during the day.
When you do not consider orientation at installation, solar panels will only catch the sun in the morning, noon, or sunset. Consequently, solar panels will generate power inefficiently.
The longer solar panels are exposed to the sun, the more power they produce. Proper orientation ensures that solar panels can capture the sun’s rays throughout the day.
Location Of The Sun
The location of the sun determines proper orientation. The sun relates to solar panels differently based on the region of installation.
If you live in the northern hemisphere, install your panels oriented southwards.
If you live in the southern hemisphere, install your panels oriented northwards. It allows for maximum sun absorption and maximum electricity generation. In the Americas, the east-west is the best solar panel orientation.
A professional solar panel installer will advise on your location’s best orientation for solar panels. The design of your roof may also influence the installation of solar panels in your home.
Solar Panel System Technology
Over time, solar panel manufacturing technology has allowed for orientation to not matter. You can install your solar panels in any way and they will absorb as much sun as they can to produce electricity efficiently.
If you install technologically advanced solar panels, you may not have to worry about orientation. These panels generate electricity on cloudy days with the available sunshine.
However, they will work best when they are oriented correctly based on where you live. Proper orientation coupled with advanced solar technology, ensures that you have maximum solar power generation for use.
Other Types Of Solar Panel Orientation
East-West Solar Panels Orientation
Solar panel orientation is based on the location of the sun relative to where you live. If you live in the northern hemisphere, the sun is to your south. Hence, a southern orientation is ideal for your solar panels.
If you live in the southern hemisphere, the sun is northwards. Thus, a southern orientation is ideal for your solar panels.
However, you can also consider orientation based on the movement of the sun.
The sun moves from east to west in a single day. Therefore, you can have east-facing solar panels to receive maximum sunshine in the morning till midday. You can also have west-facing panels to be exposed to the sun as it moves west in the afternoon.
Factors That Determine When To Use The East-West Orientation
If your electricity needs peak in the morning and evening, then East-West solar panel orientation is ideal.
In the morning, the eastward-facing solar panels will power your home as they are directly exposed to the sun. In the evening, the west solar panels have the sun and provide the power.
If you have solar batteries, you can use the east-west orientation. The solar panels are exposed to the sun for a few hours at a time during the day.
During these times, they produce at maximum efficiency. If you are not at home during these hours, a battery system is ideal.
It stores the power that the panels produce and you can use it when you are back home.
How Much You Pay For Electricity
Mornings and evenings are high-demand times for electricity. Depending on where you live, electricity charges at high-demand times may be more expensive.
Thus, installing your solar panels in the east-west orientation can save you money. Use solar at these times and you will have a lower electricity bill at the end of the month.
Benefits Of Installing Your Solar Panels In The Right Orientation
Properly orienting solar panels produce at their maximum rating. The right orientation ensures that solar panels can capture the sun at its hottest and as it moves across the sky during the day.
As a result, solar panels will generate electricity efficiently. You can run all your appliances or store as much electricity as possible in your solar batteries.
Additionally, at maximum production, you can make large savings on your electricity bills. Also, you can get a quick return on your investment in solar panels.
Increase Savings On Your Electricity Bill
Most people install solar panels to save on their electricity bills. The more your electricity consumption, the larger the solar system you need.
The cost of solar panels varies with size. Large solar panels cost more. Thus, you will have to invest more money to acquire a suitable solar system.
When installed in the proper orientation, your solar panels generate more electricity than you require. It enables you to avoid using grid-connected electricity.
Proper orientation ensures that your solar system produces power at its rated capacity. It allows you to save on your electricity bills easily.
Increase The Amount Of Electricity Exported To The Grid
A proper orientation ensures that your solar panels produce electricity efficiently.
Depending on where you live, you may be in a program that allows you to export your excess solar power to the grid.
The right orientation of your solar panels allows efficient production. As a result, you will have a lot of power to export to the grid.
The more power you export, the more you are paid for it. The amount paid for the export of excess solar power to the grid reduces your electricity.
Therefore, the more power you export to the grid, the more you get paid. You also save more on your electricity bill and get a faster return on your investment.
Solar panels provide you with a means to escape the ever-rising electricity bills. Thus, you can live off-grid easily. Or, you become less reliant on electricity retailers and become energy independent.
Proper solar panel orientation goes a long way in ensuring that you are energy independent. The wrong orientation decreases the electricity production capacity of your solar system. Consequently, you will still need power from the grid.
However, the right orientation ensures that your panels produce as much power as you need to live off-grid.
Little Maintenance Required
When your solar panels are installed correctly and in the proper orientation, they will produce power as you expect.
However, when they are wrongly installed, they will produce less power. To rectify the situation, you will call technicians to check, fix or re-install the solar panels. It may cost you more money to solve the problem.
Proper installation in the right orientation ensures that your solar panels can work without the need for maintenance over their lifetime.
Thus, proper orientation reduces the cost of running and maintaining your solar system.
Author: Ben McInerney is a renewable energy enthusiast with the goal of helping more Australians understand solar systems to make the best choice before they purchase. Having an accredited solar installer in the family helps give Ben access to the correct information, which allows him to break it down and make it easily understandable to the average homeowner.