To harvest the greatest energy from the sun, solar panels should face the sun directly with no obstructions that shade the panel. In the northern hemisphere, position the system so the panels face true south; in the southern hemisphere, north. In addition to the compass orientation, or azimuth, maximize the power produced by the panels by optimizing the tilt angle.
Panel tilt angles are determined by the angle at which the sun hits the earth at a specific location. Because the angle of sun changes throughout the day and season of the year, optimizing the angle is complex. One approach is to continually adjust the angle of the panel. This can be done manually two or four times a year, or by using a solar tracking system.
Stand-alone remote power systems generally do not utilize tracking systems. Since the cost of solar modules has dropped in recent years, is simpler and more cost effective to use a fixed array with a few more modules.
Accepted industry practice for fixed solar arrays is to set the tilt angle equal the site’s latitude plus 15 degrees. This angle optimizes the panel for the average daily angle of the sun in winter, when solar insolation is at its lowest, and is practical for applications where the amount of energy required stays consistent throughout the year.
At Solarcraft, we size our solar power systems based on winter sun hours to ensure the system gets through the winter. Based on the accepted practice of latitude plus 15 degrees, our arrays are set for maximum winter efficiency. Our standard arrays are made for 30, 45, and 60-degree tilt angle. There are exceptions: systems located close to or at the equator are set horizontal. Far northern latitudes are set to 90-degrees. Where snowfall accumulates, the tilt angle is adjusted to a steeper angle to encourage snow shed.
To learn more about properly angle your panels, contact a Solarcraft Technical Sales Representative Technical Sales Representative at (887) 340-1224.