The Ideal Location for Solar Panels

Facts About Solar Energy
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ideal location for solar panels

Although the geographical location of a solar installation plays a part in how much sunlight solar panels receive, there are many locations around the world with less sun and a thriving solar industry. For example, most of Europe has an average of a couple of hours of peak sunlight a day. However, this didn’t stop Germany from leading the world in solar installations.

The truth of the matter is that peak sun hours only account for a fraction of the time solar arrays capture sunlight. Although these hours yield the most energy, they do not account for all the light the sun provides.

That said, not every home qualifies for solar. Certain things make a home ideal for a solar installation. One of them includes a place for solar panels on the residence. 

Solar Panel Placement and Roof Pitch

The pitch of the home plays a part in solar panel placement. The term pitch means the angle of the roof.

The number of inches the roof rises for every 12 inches the roof extends horizontally determines the pitch. Homes with steep or flat pitches require extra effort.

A roof that has a pitch within tolerance doesn’t require extra or special equipment, making it easier and cheaper to install.

Effect of Tilt Angle on Solar Panel Output

The perfect roof pitch for solar panels equals the latitude of the location of the installation. However, if this angle isn’t possible, pitch angles between 30 and 45 degrees often work. 

Having solar panels at the perfect angle increases the production of the solar array. For this reason, flat-roofed homes have a bit of a leg up. 

Flat Roofs and Ballasted Solar Panels

Homes with flat roofs need different mounting systems. Ballasted mounts often hold solar panels in place on flat roofs.

Most install ballasted solar mounts because they don’t penetrate the roof. However, they also provide flexibility for solar panel tilt.

These mounts have racking set at the perfect angle for the latitude of the home. Cement blocks then hold them in place.

Sun, Shade and Solar Panel Placement

The basic idea behind a solar panel starts with capturing the energy in sunlight. This energy then moves electrons, and the movement of electrons creates an electric current.

Electric current, known as electricity, powers our world. This current of power makes using microwaves, fridges and more possible.

Because solar panels convert sunlight into an electric current, access to the sun becomes essential for this power source. When large objects block the sun, or the solar panels aren’t facing the sun, it becomes hard or impossible for the array to produce electricity.

The Best Direction for Solar Panels to Face

Because the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, solar panels do best when they face south. South-facing solar panels always face the sun, which means they never have a shadow cast on them.

Although south facing provides the best results, east and west-facing solar panels also produce a sizable amount of energy. Because objects facing the north have more shade, solar panels should never point this direction.

The Effect of Shading on Solar Panels

Speaking of shade, everyone loves a large tree. It provides shade and helps the planet.

However, when it comes to solar panels, a tree in the wrong spot can cause quite a problem. Solar panels need as much sun as possible. Objects that cast shadows, such as chimneys and trees, make solar on an ideal part of the roof impossible.

 Best Roof Shape for Solar Panels

The shape of a roof plays a significant role in whether solar will work. The ideal for residential solar includes homes with large amounts of space that face east, west or south. However, not every home has this.

Some homes have lots of space, but it mostly faces north or has objects that take up or shade the area. Other homes have space spread across several angles on the roof, making it difficult to wire a string of solar panels.

Available Space Matters

An average residential solar panel measures 65 by 39 inches, which equals approximately 17.5 square feet for one solar panel.

An average roof has about 3,000 square feet of space. 

If nothing shades the roof, all the pitches meet solar panel tolerances, and non of the roof faces north, a typical roof could hold up to 171 solar panels. However, at least one of these factors often takes place, reducing the solar potential of the roof. 

 Best Roof Style for Solar Panels

There are lots of different roofing styles out there. Some roofs have super steep pitches making it hard to install solar panels. Other homes face south, meaning solar panels work best on the front.

However, the pitch and direction of the home don’t comprise everything that goes into a roof. Different types of shingles can also make installing solar difficult.

Common Roof Types for Solar Installations

Common rooftop shingles include asphalt, tile, wood, shake, slate, composite, rubber, copper and metal. Some options, like shake and wood, require extra care, but it is possible. 

Because of the difficulties associated with installing on different roof types, some companies will not install solar panels on certain roofing materials. Go Solar Group will not install solar panels on tile with a pitch over 9/12, Decra or Clay roofs for that reason. 

If the shingles need replacing, waiting until the roof gets replaced will cost less. Homes that don’t have a roof yet or need re-shingling often are good candidates for solar shingles or in-roof solar installations. Discover if solar works for your home today with a solar quote.


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