There Is Much More To Solar Than Roof Orientation
South-facing solar panels produce the most energy in the northern hemisphere , so if the opportunity is there, go for it! If a south-facing orientation is not possible, there is no need to give up on your solar goals. Alternative orientations and placements can still offer considerable generation and utility bill savings. Find out whats possible with a free solar quote for your home!
The best news is that solar power system placement is not a guessing game. Our experts at IPS can generate precise solar quotes using the specifics of your home , including roof orientation, to show how much energy you can expect from your system, year after year.
Solar Batteries Let You Save Excess Energy For A Rainy Day
Solar batteries store the excess energy that your solar panels collect on bright, sunny days and reserve it for later use. Solar batteries help when it’s overcaston a cloudy day, youll be able to use your stored energy, so you can continue to power your home with free, renewable energy even when there isnt enough sunlight to generate electricity. Solar batteries can also power your home at night and during a power outage, so youll never be without electricity.
Our Peak Sun Hours Calculator
Scroll up to our sun hours calculator at the top of this page.
In the first box, enter a location such as your address, city, or zip code. For example, if you live in Anaheim, CA and your zip code is 92804, youd type 92804 into the box.
Select your location from the dropdown results. In this example youd select 92804 Anaheim, CA, USA.
If you know what angle your solar panels will be tilted at, you can enter a solar panel tilt angle . For example, if youre putting solar panels on your roof and you know your roof angle is 30°, youd enter 30.
Note: If you dont know your solar panel angle, you can leave the field blank or use our solar panel tilt calculator to find the best angle for your location.
If you know what direction your solar panels will face, you can enter an azimuth angle . If youre putting panels on your house, your azimuth angle is limited to whichever direction your roof faces. Lets say your sunniest roof faces southeast . In that case, youd enter 135.
Note: If you dont know your azimuth angle, you can leave the field blank or use our solar panel azimuth calculator to find the best direction to face your solar panels.
The calculator will calculate the annual and monthly averages for your location:
If your tilt and azimuth angles are flexible, experiment with different angles to find the combo that results in the greatest number of peak sunlight hours.
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For Solar Panel Site Assessment Call Solarise
Our residential solar panel systems design experts can customize an ideal system for your energy needs within just about any budget. Solarise installation specialists provide our industrys highest standard of workmanship in installing solar panels on roofs. We also offer an outstanding solar panel warranty for your long-term protection.
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For questions about solar panels for your home, call Solarise Solar at 315-3034, or contact us here on our website to schedule a FREE solar assessment.
Determine How Much Sunlight You Receive In Your Area
You need to determine how many peak sun hours your area receives. Keep in mind, average daily peak sun hours arent merely the hours when the sun is in the sky. They are the hours when the sun delivers the most sustained exposure of sunlight, which means thats when your solar panels will be most productive.
Peak sun hours directly impact the number of solar panels you need. If you live in a place that receives a lot of sunlight, such as Arizona, a smaller solar power system might be all you need. You would need a bigger one to achieve the same amount of energy production if you live in an area with less sunlight available, such as Massachusetts.
For our example, we will use Arizona, which receives an average of 7.42 peak sun hours per day.
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Roof Pitch Also Matters For Solar Panel Orientation
Though less impactful than the roof orientation, the angle of solar panels also affects production. The goal is to maximize sunlight that hits the panels at a perpendicular angle. If the panels are to be mounted flush with the roof, then the steepness, called roof pitch, decides the angle of the solar panels.
The ideal angle for south-facing panels here in the U.S. is between 30 and 40 degrees . The systems latitude will determine what the exact best angle is for solar production. Steeper angles have the added benefit of helping with maintenance, as snow and debris tend to slide right off.
East- and west-facing panels generate more energy when mounted flatter than 30 degrees. For example, east or west-facing solar panels that are at a 15-degree tilt trail the production of south-facing panels by 15% instead of 20% when at a 30-degree tilt.
Sub-optimal roof pitch can be corrected by constructing a mounting system that angles the panels to a preferred tilt, but this typically comes at a premium. Homes with flat roof are often able to utilize ballast-mounted systems, which have the added benefit of not requiring roof penetrations or additional racking.
Is Your Climate Suitable For Solar
Solar panels require sunlight. So what if you live in a city thats not sunny year round? It is interesting that most of the United States is far from being as sunny as California or Hawaii, and still solar panels are installed all across America. This is because if you do not live in the most sunlit of places, you can still produce your own power with a solar energy system part of the time.
So while a sunny climate is the perfect condition for solar energy generation, living where there is not a lot of sunshine should not deter you from considering solar energy as an option for your home.
After all, producing some amount of your own power is better than none at all. And every kilowatt-hour that you produce from solar is a kilowatt-hour that doesnt have to be burned from a dirty power plant!
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Solar Power Generation Choices
The broad selection of solar panel models available for household use are not created equal. And, they do not all generate the same amount of power.
Solar panels are rated based on the watts they generate. The higher the wattage rating, the greater amount of power your solar installation will produce. Most residential solar panels have power output ratings from 250 to 400 watts, depending on panel size and how well they convert sunlight into energy. While higher power ratings are considered preferable, power output is not the sole factor in judging a solar panels performance.
For instance, two solar panels may each have a 15% efficiency rating, yet the power output rating of one is 250 watts and the other is 300 watts.4 The higher output may simply be due to the 300 watt panels larger physical size–rather than having a high efficiency or more advanced technology. Therefore, panel efficiency is a better indicator of solar panel performance than just power output for meeting your energy needs.
How Many Peak Sun Hours Do You Need To Go Solar
In the United States, any place that gets 4 peak sun hours or more is considered a good location to produce useful amounts of solar energy.
However, even if you get fewer peak sun hours, solar might still be worth it for you. There are several other key factors that affect the viability of home solar, such as electricity rates and the availability of incentives on the federal level and state level.
Find out which local, state, and utility solar incentives are available in your area here.
For instance, people living in locations with below-average peak sun hours but expensive utility rates and net metering stand to save a lot of money by going solar.
New York is an excellent example. The state only receives an average of 3.0-3.5 peak sun hours per day. However, the availability of terrific solar incentives means that even with less energy production, the average solar payback period for homeowners there is just 2.8-3.4 years – a level of return thats hard to beat.
You can easily check how the economics of solar stack up for your home by entering your zip code into the SolarReviews calculator below.
Check estimate solar costs and savings for your home
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How Many Solar Panels Does It Take To Power A House
According to the US governments Environmental Impact Assessment, the average American household uses approximately 877 kWh of electricity per month, which comes out to about 10,600 kWh per year. This figure is an average and can vary depending on the size of the home and individual energy consumption.
Consider All Of The Costs
Solar panels will almost certainly save you money in the long run, and the longer you stick with the renewable energy source, the more you will end up saving as you watch your utility bill shrink. However, there are costs that need to be considered. There is the initial up-front cost of the panels, which can be quite expensive. You will want to consider if it is possible to pay for this expense outright or if you will need to finance the purchase. Make sure you account for the interest rate and how it will accrue over time. You can also rent solar panels. The installation process itself will likely require hiring a contractor, and you’ll have to account for the costs associated with that including any modifications needed around your home to accommodate the solar panels. Permits may also come with a one-time fee. Finally, consider the potential maintenance that will be required over the lifespan of the panels.
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What’s The Best Direction For Solar Panels
Its a factthe orientation of your roof affects how much energy solar panels can potentially produce. Still, its not as straightforward as assigning a one-size fits all hard and fast rule for solar panel placement. For homes in the northern hemisphere, south-facing solar panels do receive the most direct sunlight throughout the year. However, a south-facing roof is by no means a necessity for a productive and economically viable solar power system.
A rooftop solar power system facing east or west can still generate enough energy to meet your energy demandsparticularly if its paired with a home battery backup system. Solar panel direction is one of several factors that determine the viability of rooftop solar. Here is a breakdown of the role roof orientation plays in producing clean, renewable energy for your home.
What Are My Average Peak Sun Hours
Knowing the average peak sun hours where you live is the one of the best ways to determine if you should go the solar route. Depending on your location, youll see a major difference in the average peak sunlight hours. The United States averages between 3 to 5 peak sun hours in most areas.
Select the city closest to you to determine your average peak sunlight hours, or select another city in the solar sun map to compare how peak sun hours vary from state to state:
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There’s More Than One Type Of Solar Panel
Not all solar panels are the same. First, you’ll want to consider your choice between otherwise known as solar electric and solar thermal panels. Photovoltaics are far more common, and use solar cells to directly convert sunlight into electricity. Solar thermal panels, on the other hand, uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight and is typically used for water heating. Solar thermal is more efficient but only is maximized when the sun is out. PV panels are more versatile and longer-lasting.
In addition to the type of solar panel that you want, you’ll also have to take into consideration the same things that you would for any major purchase: things like performance, durability, and warranty. These will all vary, and some panels will be better suited for your particular needs. Make sure to do your research and seek out reliable sources and other user experiences to get the best information before making your decision.
Advertiser Disclosure: CNET’s corporate partner, SaveOnEnergy, can help you find the right energy fit for your home. The SaveOnEnergy marketplace helps you search, compare, sign up and save on the right energy fit for your home all for free. If you’re interested in solar, answer a few questions to get an exact price quote from our solar advisors.
Seasonal Adjustments To Optimal Tilt Angle
If you have an adjustable mount and dont mind tilting your panels manually, you can change the angle a few times a year to get a bit more production from your array.
We should note that this isnt a particularly common choice. Most of our customers simply give themselves a 5-10% cushion in production when sizing their system so they never need to make adjustments.
The main exception is in heavy snow areas. If snow will accumulate on your panels, pole mounts make a lot a sense. You can adjust them to a steeper tilt angle in the winter, which not only improves output, but also sheds snow from the face of the panels.
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If you are able to adjust the angle of your solar panels a few times per year, here is the adjustment schedule we recommend:
- Spring: Tilt the panels to your latitude.
- Summer: Tilt the panels to your latitude minus 15°.
- Fall: Tilt the panels to your latitude.
- Winter: Tilt the panels to your latitude plus 15°.
These are general guidelines, but you may get better results by customizing your adjustment schedule based on your location. For more info, read through solarpaneltilt.com, an old-but-still-excellent reference that explains how to tilt your panels to maximize their production.
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How Much Solar Power Can You Generate By State
Of course, there are many assumptions that we used that differ for every solar panel system. One of the major difference-makers is geographic location, which directly impacts the hours of quality sunlight your solar panel system will get. We used 5 hours per day as our average aboveheres how that number changes geographically, while still assuming an average roof size of 1,700 square feet and 320 watt solar panels:
How much solar energy can you generate on your roof by state?
*Assumptions: 1700 square foot roof, 17.5 square foot/320-watt solar panels
How A Solar Battery Adds Value
Add increased value to your solar panels by storing the energy they generate. Solar panels with battery storage maximizes the amount of electricity your installation retains for your use. By adding solar battery storage, you can take even greater control of powering your energy needs.
Surplus electricity created by your panels is stored in the battery until you need it. During an outage, when the sun sets, or if you’re using extra power, electricity draws from the battery. Its an easy, elegant solution with many benefits.
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How Peak Sun Hours Are Used To Measure Sunlight
Now that we know what a peak sun hour represents, lets look at how its used to measure sunlight for a particular location.
The sun, as we know, doesnt shine at peak sun hour-intensity all day long. Instead, the intensity of sunlight hitting the panels constantly fluctuates depending on the time of day, as well as the weather.
During the early mornings and late afternoon, sunlight is likely to be less than 500 W/m². Conversely, during ideal conditions – midday during a clear, sunny day – you might actually receive more than 1000 W/m², say 1,100 W/m².
No worries, we can simply express these amounts in terms of peak sun hours. For example:
- An hour in the morning that receives an average of 500 W/m² of sunlight is equal to 0.5 peak sun hours.
- An hour at midday that receives an average of 1,100 W/m² of sunlight is equal to 1.1 peak sun hours.
It may sound complicated, but the concept is actually relatively simple to apply. For example, if a given location receives a total of 6,650 Wh/m² of solar radiation over the course of a day, then that location gets 6.65 peak sun hours.
Total solar irradiation over the day = Total area under the solar irradiation curve = Total area of the peak sun hours box.
As the image shows, adding up the total solar irradiance for a given location gives you the total peak sun hours value.
How Can I Calculate The Size Of My Solar Panel System
Many solar energy companies offer an online solar calculator to help people determine the size of the solar panel system they need, and calculate how many solar panels make up that system. Palmetto invites you to try our Solar Savings Estimate tool to see how much you can save by going solar, based on your recommended solar power system size.
Alternatively, you can use a simple formula to determine the size of the system you need to power your house:
x 1,000 / Solar Panel Wattage
Let’s break this formula down a little further to help you better understand whats happening.
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