So you’ve gotten serious about solar and are considering plunking down some ‘big money’ on an array. These panels are going to be your ‘baby’ and save you loads of money… but only if they’re installed correctly.
And when it comes to panels, it’s just like the real estate agent told you, “location, location, location!”
The best place to put solar panels is in a location that directly faces the sun.
* For people living in the northern hemisphere, this means pointing your panels due south.
* For people living in the southern hemisphere, this means pointing your panels due north.
By facing your panels south (or north if you live in Oceania, South America, South Africa, ect.) you will be able to track the sun as it moves from east to west. This allows you to maximize exposure to the sun, and thereby generate the most energy.
East or West Facing Panels
Not every situation is perfect. There will be instances where placing solar panels in the optimum direction is just not an option.
For those of you who find yourselves in this position, but still desire solar, choosing a different direction is plausible – but only if you recognized ahead of time that power generation might not be as generous as advertised.
For example, if you were to place your panels facing due east, then you would be able to take advantage of the early morning sun, but sometime after solar noon, power generation will probably begin to fall (depending on the angle of your panels and the seasonal angle of the sun).
So while the sun may be bright and shining, in late afternoon, your panels will not be in a position to capitalize on direct sunlight – thereby having a reduced power output.
Solar Panels: Easy Access
If you live in an environment that has winter snow, then panel access is going to be critical.
While it certainly may be convenient to place your solar panels on the roof of your home, should this placement prohibit you from being able to clear off snow, then you may find yourself in a situation where sunlight is optimal, but your panel investment is producing very little or even nothing.
And snow is not the only prohibitor to power generation.
Areas that see very little rain or have excessive amounts of dust, pollen or pollution in the air, will find that panels need regular cleaning.
This is because, panels need direct sunlight to work properly. Even a thin layer of dust, dirt, grime, etc, can thwart proper power generation.
Solar Panels And Trees
One of the things that we learned from living with off-grid solar, is that trees can be problematic at different times of the year.
For example, we had a small bushy tree, that stood about 15 feet tall, fairly close to our ground array.
The solar installer recommended that we take it down. But I was reluctant to do so.
It was my judgment, that there was no risk of the tree falling over and damaging the panels. I also felt that the array would be safe from any potential shading affect as the tree would loose its leaves by the time the winter sun arrived.
And for the record, the leaves did fall, just as I had expected them to.
However, the thin branches on that small bushy tree were enough to cast a notable shadow of their own. Consequently, we experienced low power generation, in the season where we needed it the most (as daylight hours are shorter in the winter).
We also had an abundance of bird droppings on the panels as a bird had chosen to nest in that tree.
Another example of trees and their seasonal issues is pine trees.
Every year, the pine trees on our property give off loads of pollen. If you have pine trees in your immediate area, make sure you consider their placement in regards to your solar array.
As mentioned above, if enough pollen collects on your panels, then you will not be able to generate the power that clean panels would.