What is the Best Direction Solar Panels should Face?

The orientation of the solar panels is a crucial factor that contributes to solar panel performance. A wrongly oriented solar panel can produce significant reductions in solar panel output. Typically, the best direction is influenced by 2 factors:

  • Geographic location (latitude) where the mounting is done
  • Time of the year (seasonal variations)

Why is the direction important?

Solar panels have to be oriented in the direction that receives the maximum solar radiation. The position of the sun with respect to a solar panel varies during the day and also depends on the seasons. The ideal scenario would be for the sun’s rays to fall perpendicular to the solar panels as it maximizes the energy falling on the panels.

What are the dimensions to consider while positioning panels?

There are two factors to be considered in this respect namely:

  1. Orientation (North/east/west/south)
  2. Tilt angle

Orientation

The orientation that your solar panels should face depends on the hemisphere that your country is located in. For locations I the northern hemisphere, your panels should be preferably facing true south. And for locations in the southern hemisphere, the sun’s would be predominantly coming from the north and therefore the panels should be facing true north. In a country closer to the equator, solar panels should ideally face directly upward.

But it’s not always possible to have a north or south facing roof. Depending on the situation, an east or west facing roof can serve the purpose of producing electricity and has been found to be productive in many cases.

However, for certain locations, it is being explored if East-West orientation could provide optimal output.

Tilt angle

Albeit to a lesser extent than the orientation, tilt angle can affect solar panel performance. Tilt angle refers to angle made by the solar panels with respect to the horizontal. A zero tilt angle means that you solar panels are directed perpendicular to the sky.

While the tilt angle required for solar panels varies from location to location, the typical range for tilt should be equal to your latitude, plus 15 degrees in winter, or minus 15 degrees in summer.

Conclusion

In general, it can be said that a north-facing solar panel is better in the southern hemisphere and south-facing roof is optimum in the northern hemisphere. Directing panels in east-west directions is also being explored but the success of this orientation depends on location-specific weather as well as electricity requirements.

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India Renewable Energy Expert