Setting Up Your Solar Panels: Which Direction Should You Face Them?

solar panels on house roof

Setting up a new project for the home is often stressful, especially when you’re dealing with an expensive investment. Solar panels are just that and no different: However, if you’re familiar with how solar energy works even just a little bit, you’ll deduce that as long as they’re facing the sun, it should be fine.


While this is true, there are ways to maximize the accruement of solar energy to increase the amount available to use. This is especially important during inclement weather conditions or when you have a solar battery storage system.


How Solar Panels Interact with the Sun


Solar energy is reliant on the ability to draw energy from the sun. Specifically, it requires small particles called photons from the sun’s rays in order to convert them into electricity. But because photons naturally exist in the earth’s atmosphere, technically solar panels can be angled in many directions and still draw energy, even interacting with the elements at times can help increase their output.


However, angling it perpendicular to the sun has proven to be best in order to attain optimal performance. This is easy to accomplish for solar panels that track the sun automatically. For fixed panels, a little bit of maneuvering is necessary. And on top of that, where you are in the world will play a role in generating solar power.


Which Direction is Best?


To optimize power generation, both direction and angle matter. As a general rule, solar panels should point towards the equator. The equator is the line that cuts the globe in half; it signifies 0 latitudes and separates the northern and southern hemispheres. It cuts across the very top of South America, through the topmost half of Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador, and continues on through Central Africa and Asia.


To get optimal power for solar energy, one should choose the direction based on geographics instead of a compass’ interpretation of what constitutes south. So if one lives in North America, solar panels should be facing south towards South America geographically, instead of magnetic south.


Which Angle is Best?


The angle or tilt of the panels is just as important. It should equal the geographical latitude to produce the most energy. The geographical latitude is the coordinates used to locate a specific position on the earth’s globe. It works in tandem with the equator, as latitude is the angle between the plane of the earth’s equator.


In other words, being familiar with which side of the equator you’re on and your geographical location in coordinates will determine the tilt angle of your solar system for you. So if you’re at 67 degrees N on earth, that means your panels should be facing true south towards the equator and angled exactly 67 degrees.


When Should You Change the Direction of your Panels?


Well, it depends on the kind of panels that you have. If they’re flat panels that were built into your roofing, they shouldn’t be disturbed without professional guidance. But if you have solar panels on a kickstand, for instance, it’s easier to clean and properly maintain them after harsh weather.


Panels are prone to overheating in high temperatures. This hinders their performance, so they’re often angled away from the sun to help them cool down. Pure water is recommended as the best cleaner, as it acts as a natural “coolant” for panels. Apply the water – or a non-abrasive solution – to a soft brush or cloth and gently wash the panels.


Moreover, it’s advised that you clean in this way in either the early morning or at night so that cleaning liquids won’t evaporate and cause streaking. Gentle cleaning will also prevent microfractures to the glass panes on the panels. Finally, for all roof panels, be sure to use an extension pole if a ladder isn’t available.


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