The Best Direction for Solar Panels

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4 min
Solar 101
drone shot of a house with solar tiled roof

The direction of solar panels is important to capture maximum sunlight and therefore produce more energy. That is why some big solar farms track the movement of the Sun and adjust either direction or angle daily. But for residential systems, this is often too expensive to be put in place. Most residential solar systems have a fixed position. What is the best direction and an ideal angle for your system?

Why is the direction of solar panels important?

Solar panels will harness the most power when the Sun’s rays hit the surface perpendicularly. If facing the incorrect direction, solar panels can produce much less than they are capable of.

How to choose the direction of solar panels?

In general, facing toward the equator will produce the most electricity over the course of a day. That should be your default choice. If you live in Europe, then you should point the panels to the south (geographic south, also called true south, not magnetic south).

drone shot of a house with solar tiled roof

How to optimize solar panel direction for self-consumption?

You should pay attention to what time of day your power consumption increases. If you use a lot of electricity in the morning, orienting the solar system to the east may be helpful. If you consume most of your energy in the evening, then the west direction would be a better option.

  • Solar modules that face east achieve the greatest efficiency in the morning.

  • Solar modules that face west achieve the greatest efficiency in the evening.

  • Solar panels that face south achieve the greatest efficiency at midday and produce energy throughout the day.

It is generally beneficial if two roof areas can be used at the same time. Orienting your panels both to the east and west provides consistent power generation throughout the day. Instead of maximum effectivity at midday, there are two smaller maximums in the morning and in the afternoon. This makes it easier to increase the self-consumption share of the self-generated solar power.

For residential purposes we recommend installing panels on both, east and west. In total, they will generate around 20% less energy than a south-facing roof, but you will rely less on the power grid.

How to produce more solar energy with an ideal angle?

Another important factor you need to consider is the tilt angle. Tilt angle refers to the angle from the ground at which the solar panels are tilted, where 0° is lying flat. This aspect also has a big impact on the cost-effectiveness of the system. The ideal angle changes from summer to winter. That is why solar panels are typically installed at an angle that will balance the needs of both seasons.

During summer, the sun is high up in the sky so a low tilt angle would capture more sunlight. But, in winter, the sun is much lower in the sky so you would capture more sunlight with a higher tilt angle. Thus, the best tilt angle will be somewhere in between.

For example, in Nordic countries solar panels typically get installed around a 25° angle. That is because the ideal summer angle is closer to 10°, while the ideal winter angle is closer to 40° degrees. So the 25° angle is a compromise between the two.

yellow building with solar full roof and a flag

Should I choose Solarstone solar roof or regular solar panels?

Solarstone solar roofs and regular solar panels are similar in their function. They both harness sunlight and produce electricity. Choosing between a solar roof or a traditional solar panel system depends on your location and preferences. But the decisions you make about the direction and angle depend on the same aspects.

Solarstone transform’s roofs to sustainable and self-sufficient energy producers. Solarstone modules perform as a 2-in-1 permanent roofing material and you will benefit from uninstalled roofing material and reduced labor. Essentially you discount the roofing price from solar installation. Compared with on-roof solar system installation on a new-build or a renovation project, Solarstone helps you save thousands of euros.

How to get the maximum out of your solar panels?

There are other things that affect your system’s efficiency, you should pay attention to. What works for you may not work best for your friend who lives down the street, in another part of the country, or on the other side of the world. Read more about what to consider before making an investment.

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Don’t worry, we can answer all your questions – like whether Santa Clause can still safely climb on top of your roof – and more. You can consult our FAQ and if you’re still left wondering, feel free to contact us!

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