How To Define Best Place To Install Solar Panels?

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A solar photovoltaic system works best and delivers the most power where there is more sun. Mid-day sunlight gives a greater output than early morning or late afternoon, obviously depending on any other factors such as cloud coverage.

The clearness index measures how much direct light your climate receives each day to help you find the optimum place for installation.

Placement of Your Solar System


For best success, a solar panel needs to be oriented in the direction of the true south.

However, if that's not possible because your roof is angled or you want to maintain aesthetics sake, 45 degrees west or east will result in only 5% less energy output than with an orientation toward true south and 10% – 20% reduced annual output for facing 90 degrees off from it.

So as long as you have one side of your house pointed towards either southeast/southwest (for equal hours), then any other angle should work out just fine depending on what kind of expectations you're looking for when using these panels.

If you are looking to save money on your utility bill, it could make sense for you to design your PV system facing west.

A time-of-use rate will likely maximize production during the late afternoon when wholesale electricity prices usually peak and these savings can really add up over time.

A south-facing solar installation can provide a lot of power, but it may not be able to keep up with the demand during peak hours.

West-facing systems generate about 50% more electricity in the late afternoon than their southern counterparts and are well worth considering for those who want to take advantage of incentives offered by certain utilities.


The tilt angle and orientation of a PV panel will influence the amount of sun it gets throughout the day. A tilted solar array may be more efficient because its panels are capturing sunlight that would otherwise fall on an adjacent surface.

A fixed-tilt system reduces variability in production but is less optimal for areas with significant changes in daily or seasonal sunlight patterns.

However, many systems use adjustable mounts to adjust their position as needed by following sunrise/sunset times over time zones around the world.

This ensures they get enough direct light each day at appropriate hours while also reducing shadows caused when moving between seasons (i.e., summer).

The tilt of solar panels is not crucial and can be as varied as 15 degrees, but the optimal fixed angle in the United States should follow latitude.

This makes it so that you don't have to worry about making any adjustments based on your roof's pitch which would make installation much easier for you with no need for complex calculations or equipment.

Tracking Arrays

Solar panel tracking arrays are an essential part of solar power production. They allow sunlight to reach the panels and generate more energy than stationary arrays, even on cloudy days or when there is a lot of surrounding shade.

Tracking systems can also be used for large ground-based applications that cannot rotate freely or where space may constrain movement; such as installations in parking lots, walkways near buildings, baseball fields, etc.

The most common way this is achieved (since you don't want something sticking up off your roof) is by mounting software-controlled motors onto the back end brackets which spin around like clock hands so they always face towards the sun thus powering all day long.

Tracking arrays are not generally recommended for home PV systems, however, because they add complexity and costs compared to energy benefits.


When it comes to solar PV systems, shade can cause unwanted drops in power output. For example, if 25% of an array is shaded then you could see a 50% or greater drop in your electricity production.

As the angle of sunlight changes throughout the year, you'll want to consider how shading will affect your solar panels.

Keep in mind that wintertime is when most trees and houses are blocking more sun than they would at other times during the year, so it's important to pay attention.

The future of your solar panel installation should not be taken lightly. Consider the types of trees that may grow in the area or any new buildings being constructed nearby to make sure you plan ahead for shade on sunny days and cloudy afternoons.

It is also a good idea to ask all neighbors about possible construction plans so as not to disrupt their sunlight usage.

Solar professionals use a tool called the “solar pathfinder” to help them find the optimal placement of solar equipment.

If seasonal shade is an issue, then it's best to install microinverters since only those panels will be affected by changes in sunlight throughout the year.

Application Surface

The other important consideration is the application surface on which you will install solar panels. The solar panels come in three different forms: roof-mounted, ground-based and pole mounted.

If solar panels are going up on an existing roof, homeowners can expect it to be cheaper and quicker than adding new ones because they don't have to get permission from any other landowners or pay for expensive demolition work to get rid of old roofs first.

If you're trying to save on space and lower your mounting costs, then a ground mount system is for you. These systems are designed specifically to be installed at ground level against the walls of buildings or other structures.

On top of that, these systems can offer improved performance in shaded areas because they generate power from sunlight striking their panels perpendicularly as well as straight up into the air without obstruction by anything above them like trees or poles which would otherwise block some light from reaching them altogether.

Pole-mounted solar panel installations have an advantage over others when it comes to generating electricity during cloudy days due to being exposed more directly than if it was mounted elsewhere though this may come with higher installation expenses where not all properties will accommodate a pole structure.

Ground mount solar systems are easier to install and cheaper than pole-mounted ones, however, they have a less efficient angle.

The ground itself can also cause problems for the panels as over time it will erode them if not properly maintained.

Your Geographic Solar Resource

Your solar power output can be affected by your location and the weather.

Homes in more northern climates may average less than four hours of sunlight a day, while those in southern states may get an extra hour or two of sunshine each day on average.

That means that homes up north need to have larger arrays installed so they can produce as much electricity as their counterparts down south.

Calculating the solar resource of your area will help you choose a system that is appropriate for its needs.

The Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory color-coded maps illustrate how much sunshine each square meter receives, and it can be accessed online.

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