The Ideal Location for Solar Panels

Facts About Solar Energy
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ideal location for solar panels

Although, where in the world a solar installation is done plays a part in how much sunlight solar panels will receive. There are many places with less sun and a thriving solar industry.

For example, most of Europe averages a couple 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 actually capture sunlight. Although these hours yield the most energy they are not the only hours that the sun is out.

This, however, doesn’t mean that every home is a good fit for solar. There are certain things that make a home the ideal location for a solar installation.

Solar Panels and Low Pitch Roofs

One of the factors that plays a part in solar panel placement is the pitch of the home. Pitch is the angle of the roof.

Pitch is determined by the number of inches the roof rises for every 12 inches the roof horizontally extends. If a home is too steep or flat, it requires extra effort.

The good news is that even if a home isn’t the perfect pitch there is equipment out there that will make it work. However, it is easier and cheaper if the roof already has the correct pitch.

Effect of Tilt Angle on Solar Panel Output

The perfect pitch for solar panels is equal to 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 will increase the production of the solar array. This is one of the reasons why flat-roofed homes have a little bit of a leg up. 

Flat Roofs and Ballasted Solar Panels

Homes with flat roofs need a different mounting system. The most commonly used is the ballasted mount.

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. They are then held in place with blocks of cement.

Sun, Shade and Solar Panel Placement

The basic idea behind a solar panel is to capture the energy in sunlight and use it to move electrons. This electron movement is also known as an electric current.

Having an electric current is the start to powering our world. Electricity is the power source behind microwaves, fridges and more.

Because solar panels convert sunlight into an electric current the sun is essential. When large objects block the sun or the solar panels aren’t facing the sun it is hard 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, it is best for solar panels to be facing the south. South-facing solar panels are less likely to have a shadow cast on them and have the most sun exposure.

Although south facing is the best, east and west-facing solar panels also produce a sizable amount of energy. The only direction solar panels shouldn’t face is the north. Although some sunshine may hit north-facing solar panels, they are more likely to have shade throughout the day.

The Effect of Shading on Solar Panels

Speaking of shade, everyone loves a good 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 home’s roof plays a significant role in whether solar is a good option for the home. Homes with large amounts of space that face east, west or south are ideal. However, not every home has this. 

Some homes have lots of space, but it mostly faces north or is shaded. Others homes have space spread across several angles on the roof.

A home that has the optimal amount of space for solar panels can sometimes be tricky.

Available Space Matters

The average residential solar panel is about 65 by 39 square inches. This is approximately 211 square feet for one solar panel.

An average roof is about 3,000 square feet. This means that if there wasn’t anything blocking the solar panels, a typical roof could hold up to 14 solar panels.

 Best Roof Style for Solar Panels

Another thing to consider before installing solar is what type of roof the home has. There are lots of different roofing styles out there.

Some roofs have super steep pitches making it hard to install solar panels. Others face the south meaning solar panels would be best placed on the front of the home.

However, this isn’t the only thing that goes into the style of a roof. There are also several different types of shingles out there.

Common Roof Types for Solar Installations

Common shingles include asphalt, tile, wood, shake, slate, composite, rubber, copper and metal. The good news is that all these shingling options work with solar.

There are some options like shake and wood that require extra care, but it is possible. If, however, the roofing shingles are old, it may be a better option to wait until the roof has been re-shingled.

Homes that don’t have a roof yet or are about to be re-shingled are also good candidates for solar shingles or an in-roof solar installation. Discover if your home is a good fit for solar today with a solar quote.

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