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angle solar panels

What is the best angle for roof-mounted solar panels?

As kids, we are all told the same thing: The sun rises in the east, remains straight up in the sky at noon, and sets in the west. This saying makes the sun's movements sound pretty simple.

However, the route taken by the sun is somewhat more complicated than that. Our planet has a natural rotation and an elliptical orbit around the sun, which means that the sun really moves over the sky differently based on where you live and the time of year.

In this blog informative article, we review what the sun's shifting position suggests for solar energy generation, in addition to how you can place your panels for optimum performance.

We will also explain how the best solar panel angle is based on various things. Finally, we analyze how important it really is to attain the optimal angle.

But before we start, note: Solar panel angle is also called solar panel tilt. You will see the terms used conversely, both in this guide and across the net.

What does "solar panel angle" mean?

roof top solar panel

Solar panel angle is just another way of explaining the vertical tilt of your PV arrangement. When a solar system is flat with the floor, it has no tilt. When it's standing upright – vertical to the ground – it's at a 90° angle.

The solar panel angle can influence the quantity of solar power you generate and relies on two factors: the season and latitude.

Adjusting and optimizing your solar panel tilt according to those variables can help you optimize your solar energy production.

What's the Best Solar Panel Tip for Your Latitude?

The angle of tilt raises with latitude – the farther your home is from the equator, the greater your tilt angle ought to be.

For instance, in states situated at lower latitudes (including Arizona and Hawaii), the sun is higher in the sky. In such nations, solar PV panels take a low tilt to catch direct sunlight.

On the contrary, for countries at higher latitudes – such as Minnesota and Oregon – the sun is lower in the sky.

In those countries, solar photovoltaic panels must be installed at greater tilt angles to be able to get maximum sunlight.

How can you determine the best angle for solar panels in your state?

There's a simple guideline for determining the ideal tilt angle for fixed-mount solar panels. Minus 15 degrees from the latitude at your place during summer and add 15 levels to your latitude during winter.

For an exact method, use the second formula on this page to figure tilt angle.

For instance, in the San Francisco Bay Area, the optimal solar panel tilt angle is around 22-23 degrees. For Los Angeles, a tilt of 19 levels works the best.

These angles will provide you the best overall output over the course of this year if you are choosing a fixed installation.

It is actually possible to increase energy production further by adjusting solar panels depending on the season - we explain that in another section.

What's the best solar panel tip for every season?

best angle of solar panels

The angle of sunlight not only varies based on various latitudes but also with the change of seasons. The sun is reduced during winter and higher in the summer months.

This means that if you wanted to make sure that your solar panels are consistently positioned for maximum exposure to the sun, you would have to adjust them for every season.

Though, adjusting your solar panels four times a year (or even just twice) isn't a straightforward endeavor. Of course, most solar panels are installed on the fixed angle of the roof and cannot be changed.

The only way to fix solar panels readily is to use a ground-mount arrangement and mount axis-tracking solar panels.

Although, there is a major downside to this approach: while it does raise solar output, it raises your prices considerably more. Due to this, solar axis trackers now are not worth the investment.

*Are you wondering why you only get 75.7percent of best output after adjusting for every season? That's because the rest of the amount can only be achieved by adjusting for solar panel management during the day.

How does having a steep vs. shallow roof angle impact solar generation?

If you compare the output made by solar panels within a year, you may realize that there's relatively little difference between the panels installed on a shallow (15 degrees) roof and a steep (45 degree) roof.

This is because the various pitches will balance themselves out over seasons. Solar panels on a shallow roof catch more sunlight during summertime, whereas solar panels onto a steep roof will create more power throughout the winter.

While you can utilize solar panel trackers to keep them in the best angle at all times, the complications and costs involved are not worth it in most cases.

Hence, in solar-friendly states such as California, most residents find solar systems to be well worth the investment, whatever angle they're installed at.

Conclusion: Solar panel angle issues, but not that much

The performance of solar panels is influenced by their angle of inclination. To obtain maximum power from a PV system, you may need to adjust the angle based equally on latitude and season.

In real circumstances, you frequently need to work with fixed angles of the roof where there isn't any choice to correct or tilt the solar systems.

Due to this, solar systems are set up across a variety of tilt angles as a way to accommodate a number of roof pitches located on houses – efficiently saving homeowners money.

The optimal solar panel angle may increase production, but failure to achieve it is not a deal breaker.

About the Author David Roberts

I'm a Mechanical Engineer who's obsessed with solar energy and sustainable living.

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