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best direction for solar panel

If you’re planning to install an array of solar panels for your house or office, There are plenty of factors to consider. In addition to checking the power rating and dimensions, you should also ensure that you’re using the best direction for solar panel.

If you’re not in the right direction and direction, even the most robust solar panel will be unable to provide the highest power levels. This is because the proper direction of your solar panel’s direction is crucial to guarantee maximum efficiency, as, without it, your solar panels will not perform at their maximum effectiveness.

To assist you in finding the most efficient directions for solar panels, we’re offering a complete guide. We will provide the essential aspects and information about solar panel orientation below. If you follow this article, you can place your solar panels in the proper direction and enjoy a superior energy output from them.

Orientation for Solar Panels

Before looking at the precise direction and location that you need to put the solar panel, it is essential to first think about and understand the various factors that impact the effectiveness of the solar panels.

In the same way, review, let’s look at your solar panel’s direction. Without the proper direction that your panels have, the sun’s rays will not be parallel to the solar panels, resulting in reduced power efficiency.

In terms of the solar panel’s orientation, it refers to the location, direction, and angle of the solar panels. As we’ve examined the angle and direction of the solar panel below, we’ll take an examination of the location for the moment.

It is generally recommended to put solar panels on rooftops with a slant to provide better efficiency due to their higher angle without requiring any modifications.

Direction for Solar Panels

In the case of direction for solar panels, it’s one of the significant aspects of solar panels. It impacts solar panels’ power output and efficiency more than anything else.

If you live in the northern parts of the hemisphere, moving how your panels are directed south is suggested, as it provides the most efficient output. However, if you’re looking for maximum efficiency, you should direct your solar panels towards the true south, not the magnetic southern, which is slightly different.

While the direction to the south offers the highest efficiency, opting in the southwest direction is a better choice when solar panels are being utilized in homes.

This lets them generate electricity even in the evening and later hours, typically when those who live in homes run several appliances, resulting in greater energy consumption.

Angle for Solar Panels

The orientation of the solar panel informs you about the direction of the solar panel about the sun, and an angle on your solar panel informs you about the angle or its angle concerning the earth and solar panels.

To make sure the solar panel is at the correct angle for optimal power generation, choose an angle that is the same as your geographic latitude.

If you live in a 40-degree latitude, the solar panels must be set up at 40 degrees from the ground. That means that if you are close to the pole, your solar panels be tilted more towards the Equator. If you’re close to the Equator, then your solar panels would be flat and lying on top of the roof.

If it frequently snows in your area and you live in a colder climate, you’ll need to use a slightly higher angle to stop snow accumulation over your panels. This will ensure that sunlight isn’t hindered.

Overall Best Direction for Solar Panels

After you have learned more about the elements that affect the power and efficiency of solar panels, you may be interested in knowing the most effective direction to install solar panels. Unfortunately, finding that same isn’t that easy.

It is because your solar panel’s direction may be different based on your desired application and the particular circumstances. In this regard, we have provided the most efficient orientations for solar panels based on your intended usage and requirements:

If you are not willing to think about anything else except desire the highest energy out of your solar panels, then you should be aware of the best direction to follow for the best output.

In the same way, if you live within the Northern hemisphere, you should be in the direction of the south. In most cases, the solar panels to the south will provide the most sunlight throughout the year.

There could be a variety of situations in which your area and locality may be able to opt to retail 1:1 net meters entirely. Since you have energy from the grid and solar panels, the solar panel needs to work as efficiently as possible, even if the total power output generated during the day is less.

To achieve this, move your solar panels to South-facing. Since the south-facing direction is a source of large power output in midday when most homes have lower power output, it is possible to export the excess power you have produced and pay less for power.

Like net metering, you’ll want your solar panels to generate more power during the daytime when using batteries. This will ensure that the solar panels aren’t only powering your appliances but also simultaneously charging the battery system.

Because you’re using batteries, it is recommended to set up your solar panels in the south direction. This is the ideal direction for going completely off-grid, as your batteries will be recharged entirely daily.

Although it’s not widespread, certain areas may include TOU, also known as the Time of Use billing. These areas typically charge more for grid power during certain times, typically the evening hours, when people use more power and electricity.

To offset this higher power consumption, you’ll prefer that your panels provide more power during later hours and into the evening hours. Therefore, putting the solar panel in southwest orientation when you are in the case of Time of Use billing is highly advised.

Solar System Direction and Output Impact

From this point on, it should be evident that installing your solar panels in a south-facing orientation is the best option in most instances. But, this may not be feasible for everyone, and you may prefer to put the solar panels in the opposite direction.

As this decreases the efficiency of the solar panel, this could also affect the overall output. In terms of the precise impact on power output, you can anticipate depending on the direction you’re using, as described in the following table:

DIRECTIONEXPECTED POWER OUTPUT LOSS
Southwest/Southeast8%
East/West15%
North30%

If you’re wondering about the drastic impact on the output power generated by your solar panels because of the direction of change, it’s primarily due to these elements:

When you move your solar panels further and farther away from the direction of the south, in turn, the output of your solar panels will drop by a significant amount.

However, the southeast and southwest directions experience the lowest loss of power when you turn your solar panels north, which is opposite direction results in a significantly higher power loss.

The latitude of your geographical location also affects the extent to which the output of your solar panels is affected by the direction you choose to use. In most cases, solar panels located close to the pole will significantly influence the power they produce than solar panels installed nearer to the Equator.

The angle of your roof or its tilt can also affect how much power output is affected based on the direction you’re using. A lower tilt or pitch of the roof has less impact on loss of power. A roof with an upward tilt can affect the output of solar panels, even if they are situated slightly from the direction of the south.

What if the Roof is not Facing the South Direction?

As mentioned previously, it is the ideal option to get the most energy output of your solar panel. However, not all people have a south-facing roof for their offices and homes.

If that is the situation, you may be searching for alternative ways to put solar panels that face the south. To do this, you could consider these options if you desire the highest output from the solar panels you have:

Calculating Solar Panel Output as per the Direction

If the solar panels aren’t functioning at their optimal efficiency levels, their power output is less than the amount you’d like to. To counteract this, you could think about installing more solar panels to achieve the same power output from the solar panels. This could be an excellent alternative for those with the funds and space to install an additional set of solar panels over the top of your house or office.

Anyone with an expansive front or backyard yard should look into installing solar panels in the ground. Not only is it less expensive to set up solar panels on the ground instead of those on roofs, but they also permit easier maintenance because you can easily access the solar panels. Since you’re installing solar panels in the ground, they can place them in the direction you want them to.

If money is not a problem for you, then it is possible to consider solar trackers for your panels. These are unique mounting solutions for solar panels that transform your solar panels into automated ones. Trackers for solar panels make your solar panels align with the sun precisely every day, which results in the highest power output and efficiency, even when your roof isn’t in the south direction.

Whether you install your solar panels in the south or not, you’ll need to verify the power output of their entire system before installing them or purchasing an array of solar panels.

Since deciding on the orientation and direction of your solar panels is vital, there are numerous calculators available. One of the best options can be the solar reviewers’ calculator. It assists you in determining the precise power output of solar panels based on direction and angle, orientation, and many more.

THINGS TO REMEMBER

Top 3 solar PV safety hazards and how to avoid them

While most people might believe that solar radiation is somehow transformed to electricity which powers all kinds of devices and equipment, solar engineers know that there’s more to this.

The current will be “wild” in PV and not limited by electronics. This can have consequences for ground faults that are hidden or wire sizing. It also is the reason for quick closing.

The measures to control the risk and the best practices for reducing risk will vary when working with PV compared to any other energy-producing resource.

Here are three of the most common electrical hazards with PV systems, along with specific control measures you can take to reduce their risk.

Like other forms of electricity-powered power sources, P.V. systems also pose the danger of electrocution and shock when electricity travels in an unintended route through the human body. 

A current as small as 75 milliamps (mA) through the heart can be fatal. Human bodies can resist 600 ohms. According to Ohm’s law, resistance (V) is equal to the current (I) multiplied by resistance (R), and so the equation V=IR.

To figure out the amount of electricity that would traverse a body in the event of exposure at 120 V, divide 120 V among 600 Ohms (I = R/V), and you’ll get 0.2 amps or 200 milliamps. 

This is greater than 2.5 times the threshold for the death of 75 milliamps; therefore, ensuring that you protect yourself and your employees from the possibility of such an incident is essential.

Electrical shocks usually result from a short circuit caused by corroded cables, connections, broken wiring, and incorrect grounding. The most important places to search for these issues in P.V. systems include your combiner box, the P.V. output, source circuit conductors, and equipment grounded conductors. 

The grounding conductor joins the metallic components of the system together and then to the ground via the conductor for grounding and the grounding electrode.

Control measures: Systems for rapid shutdown

The energy produced by P.V. string systems is directly correlated with the sun. To decrease the risk of shock to personnel working in the field and emergency responders, it is necessary to cut off these strings in the event of a short circuit or power failure. 

The 2017 National Electrical Code (NEC), Section 690.12, stipulates implementing “rapid shutdown” of P.V. systems within and outside of the P.V. boundary of the array. By section 690.2 of the code, the P.V. array boundaries are an assembly that is mechanically integrated panels or modules with foundation structure, support structure tracker, among other elements that make up a D.C. as well as an A.C. production unit.

 

This includes controlled conductors situated within the boundary or as far as three feet away from the point they reach the exterior of the building.

The NEC has made these requirements more rigorous by the requirement:

  • Modules and conductive components exposed within the P.V. array’s boundary to be decreased to 80 V in 30 seconds.
  • Conductors outside the array’s boundary are restricted to 30 V in 30 seconds.

Rapid shutdown devices have to be situated at the service disconnect, or there must be a specific switch for the rapid shutdown. There is a derogation when the system is powered by modules-level power electronics such as power optimizers and micro-inverters that reduce the voltage. 

Systems that do not have exposed conductive components and are situated at least eight feet away from conductive elements that are exposed to the ground are not required to comply with.

Furthermore, many jurisdictions in the U.S. require that rooftop P.V. arrays have setbacks to permit firefighters to access the system. For example, California Residential Fire Code requires that California residential fire code requires P.V. modules to be at least three feet away from the roof’s ridge. (Source)

 

Like all electrical systems, there is always the risk of fire as a hazard. One of the most frequent reasons is electrical arc faults, which are high-power discharges of electricity that occur between two or more conductors. 

The heat generated by this discharge may cause the wire’s insulation to degrade and, as a result, generate a spark or “arc” that causes a fire.

PV systems are susceptible to both series arc faults caused by a disruption in the continuity of a conductor and parallel arc faults that result from unintentional currents between two conductors typically caused by the presence of a ground fault.

Control measures include arc-fault Circuit interrupters.

An arc fault could cause the formation of a ground fault or short circuit; however, it may not be enough to cause a circuit breaker to be activated and the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). 

To guard against arc faults, you have to install an arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) outlet or an AFCI circuit breaker. AFCIs detect low-level dangerous currents arcing and then shut down the outlet or circuit to decrease the chance of an arc fault starting an electrical fire.

A. NEC Section 690.11 mandates that PV systems that operate at 80 V DC or more between two conductors must be protected by a specified PV AFCI or a similar system component. 

The protection system must recognize the arc faults that result from a defect within the planned continuity of the conductor connector module or any other component of the DC circuits of PV systems. (Source)

 

Large-scale PV arrays having high and medium levels of voltage can be vulnerable to arc flashes. This is especially the case when a technician checks for any faults in the combined combiners that are energized in which PV source circuits are connected in parallel to increase the current or check medium-to-high voltage transformers switchgear. 

A flash of arc releases gas hot and radiates energy up to four times that of the sun’s surface – as high as 35,000degrees F (~19,500deg Celsius). It happens when a significant volume of electricity is released to an arc fault in both DC and AC conductors.

Arc flash can be a problem when systems exceed 400 V, which means that both residential inverters typically have the maximum input voltage of 500 V, and large-scale inverters with an upper limit of 1,500 V could be at risk. 

Before introducing large-scale solar energy systems in the past, arc flash was only thought to be an AC issue because DC voltage was restricted to off-grid installations where batteries with lower than 100 V could be utilized. 

In the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Standard 70E requires an arc flash risk assessment. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required to protect DC systems with more than 100 V.

Measures to control: AC and DC side mitigation

The Arc flash mitigation of PV systems is divided into AC (before an inverter) and AC (after the inverter). DC-side mitigation is significant for massive solar panels (100 kW or more) is crucial in the combiner box, where several solar panels are connected in parallel, thereby increasing the current. 

To limit the risk of flashes of arc, large-scale systems can utilize multiple string inverters, which allow multiple strings to be connected in parallel, rather than using two or more large central inverters that need combiner boxes. 

AC-side mitigation incorporates arc-resistant switchgear that redirects the energy from arc flash to the very top of the enclosure away from equipment and personnel. (Source)

 

Conclusion

Since we have covered almost every detail regarding solar panel direction up above, you must be able to easily pick the best direction for solar panels by going through this guide. All of these different factors affect the efficiency of your solar panels in a different way. In fact, we have also covered the optimum direction for your solar panels for different scenarios and applications.

By going through these, you can easily install your solar panels in the right direction for getting optimum efficiency and power out of them. If you have gone through all the information regarding the best direction for solar panels given above, make sure to share your thoughts in the comments section. You can also post any questions down there if you have any!