If you’re thinking about installing a solar panel system, you’re no doubt looking into how many panels you’ll need, what size system you should get, and how efficient you want your panels to be. While all of those are really important things to think about, have you also thought about the actual installation of your panels? One thing that many people neglect to think about when purchasing their solar panels is the direction that they should face when installed, and how they should be angled. But how do you know? Well, it all depends on where you live.
Which Way Should Your Panels Face?
In general, if you live on the mainland of the United States, the best direction for solar panels to face is south. Why? Because, on average, the sun shines over the equator all year long, so if you’re anywhere north of the Tropic of Cancer (as all of the mainland U.S. is), the sun is always in the southern part of the sky. In fact, if your solar panels face east or west, they will produce about 20% less electricity than they would if they were facing south. Facing your panels south will help reach any goal, including:
- Maximizing solar power output
- Taking advantage of net metering
- Pairing with a battery backup/reducing grid reliance
If your roof already faces to the south, great! If your roof doesn’t face toward the south, don’t worry: you can tilt your solar panels, or opt for ground-mounted solar panels if you have the space for them.
With all of that being said, there is one circumstance in which it might make more sense not to face your panels to the south: if you have a time-of-use (TOU) rate structure, facing your panels to the west might make more sense. With a TOU rate structure, you will be charged more for electricity during peak usage times, which happen to be when the sun heads towards the western horizon; that means you’ll want to capture the sunlight during this time for peak energy production. Some solar companies suggest that, in order to minimize the impact of high TOU rates, you should install your solar panels facing southwest, so they are still facing the sun, and you get the best of both worlds.
How Should You Angle Your Panels?
In order to capture the most sunlight, you also need to tilt your panels correctly. The angle of your solar panels matters because panels produce electricity when the sunlight hits their surface directly, and they produce the most energy when the sun is perpendicular to the panel’s face; that means, if your solar panels are not facing the sunlight perpendicularly, your solar panels are not producing energy to their full potential.
So how should they be angled? Your solar panels should be tilted somewhere between a 30 and 45 degree angle to capture the most sunlight (and to allow snow to slide off them during the winter). The actual angle will depend on where you live: for example, if you live in Austin, TX, a 30 degree angle is best, but for people living in Newark, NJ, a 41 degree angle is best. The best way to determine which angle is best for your solar panels is to talk to one of our licensed agents.
It can feel like there are a lot of technical things to think about when purchasing and installing a solar energy system – but don’t worry! You don’t have to make all the decisions on your own: Go Solar Energy will provide you with a licensed agent who can compare quotes on solar panel systems, and find you great savings and incentives to make your system affordable for you. Our agents work with the top-rated companies in the country and can calculate the costs and savings you can get based on where you live. To get free instant quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar on our homepage, or to speak to a local agent, call 888-290-3112.