Blog & FAQs

How Does Solar Power Placement Work?

There is a solar revolution currently underway in the States. Although the amount of residential homes with installed solar panels is relatively low, the amount of families taking the “solar plunge” is increasing year over year. Currently, 8 percent of homes in the U.S. have turned to solar power. More impressive, however, 39 percent of homeowners have given “serious thought” to solar in the past year, according to Pew Research. Nearly half of U.S. families are excited about solar’s potential to upend the way we think about energy in our country.

 With the rise of popularity, you may be wondering: What is the best place in your home for solar panel installation? It is known that: 

  • In most circumstances, solar panels should be positioned on south facing roofs. 
  • Panels should have a tilt between 30 and 45 degrees. 
  • Solar panels perform best when they are placed exactly perpendicular to the sun.

These are the standards that guide solar panel installation. There are complicating factors that affect installation such as trees, pitch of roof, other nearby buildings and the direction the home sits on a property. The standard may be south facing, but if that is impossible for your home, you may have to find an alternative best placement. Try your best to match the above standards. 

Solar Panel Direction

The direction of your solar panels should be as close to true south-facing as possible. Magnetic north and magnetic south align your panels in a southward direction, but miss finding “true south.” Setting your panels true south targets and aligns your panels with the Earth's axis giving your panels the best direction for optimal sun exposure. 

Finding true south is tricky without the right tools. A compass will direct you to the magnetic poles, you’ll need to do a little math and orienteering to calculate true south. An easy way to by-pass the old-fashioned compass and map is to use Google Maps. The Google Maps grid is aligned with true south and quickly helps you find the optimal placement for your panels. 

Panels that face due east and due west produce 20 percent less power than southward pointed panels. Though this may not be ideal, if the circumstances of your home prevent better placement, this is a sufficient option. 

The Exception To The Rule

There is one exception to the rule when it comes to panel placement. The rule is bent a little bit if your local power company uses Time of Use (TOU) billing as opposed to 1:1 net metering. 

South facing solar panels produce the most overall power, but they produce that power primarily during the mid-day hours. With net metering, excess power is sold back into the grid. If your local electric company uses Time of Use billing, those extra amounts of power are not helping you as much as you hoped. Since utility companies charge higher rates at later times of the day, you’re receiving less utility credits and benefiting less from your installed solar panels. 

In this case, people in TOU billing areas choose to install their panels on the southwest sides of their homes. This gives them evening sun exposure, as well as many of the benefits from the midday sun exposure. A southwest placement may work better for you depending on your utility company. If you have questions about solar panel placement, contact our team at Solar Repair! 

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