Although there are several factors to consider, finding the best solar panel angle for your roof is doable. With a quick Google search and some easy math, you’ll be able to determine what works best for your solar system.
Growing up, we were all told that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Although this is true, the sun’s movement is more complicated than that. The ideal solar panel angle depends on your latitude and the season. To get the best out of your system, you’ll need to adjust the angle throughout the year.
For best results in North America, a tilt angle between 30-45 degrees is best for most roofs from March through September. During the winter months when sunlight angles are lower, a tilt angle between 15-30 degrees is best.
If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, your optimal tilt angle will be reversed from what you’d use in the Northern Hemisphere. During summer months, a tilt of 30-45 degrees is best and for winter months, 45-60 degrees works best.
Keep reading to figure out what will work best for your solar panel system!
Just in case, here is a quick explanation of what the equator is
An equator is a 40,075-kilometer imaginary line around the middle of a planet or other celestial body. It is halfway between the North Pole and the South Pole, at 0 degrees latitude. An equator divides the planet into a Northern Hemisphere and a Southern Hemisphere. The equator is the best reference for determining solar panel angles because it dictates the angle of sunlight. https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/equator
Your solar panel tilt angle and azimuth
If you’re not installing a ground-mounted system, the angle and azimuth of your solar panels will be mainly based on your roof.
“Solar panel angle” meaning
The solar panel angle is the vertical tilt of your photovoltaic(solar) system. If it’s level with the ground, there is no tilt; if standing upright against the ground, it would be at a 90° angle.
The tilt of your solar panels relative to the sun alters how much solar electricity you produce. This angle is based on two things: where you are on Earth, and what time of year it is.
The further you live from the equator, in either direction, the more tilt your solar panels will require.
Latitude plays a major role in determining your solar panel angle
The closer your house is to the equator, the lower your tilt angle should be.
The best solar panel angle for a house at the equator will be 0°—your PV system should be installed flat against your roof. As you move away from the equator towards either pole, this tilt angle increases.
At 40° latitude, the best solar panel angle is approximately 40°. As you continue to move away from the equator, your best angle continues to increase. At 60° latitude, it’s best to go with a tilt of around 60° for best results.
For example, because Texas is one of the closest states to the equator, you’re going to see the sun higher in the sky. This means that your panels will have to be tilted at a lower angle.
Azimuth angle also plays a major role
Obviously, for your panels to be effective, they need to face the sun. The solar panel’s azimuth is just another way of saying orientation – your solar panel direction. This again depends on where you are located about the equator.
For our purposes, we’ll use Columbia as an example. Why? Because it’s situated on the equator. The sun will be positioned directly overhead for most of the day, so solar panel orientation isn’t going to be a deciding factor when orienting your solar panels. If your solar panels are installed horizontally, they can face any direction.
For example, to get the most sun possible and thus produce more energy, if you live north of the equator when installing solar panels on your home, face them south. On the contrary, if you live south of the equator, you are going to want to point your solar panels north.
The best solar panel tilt for each season changes depending on the location
The angle of the sun’s exposure varies not only according to different latitudes but also with the seasons. The illustrated image demonstrates how the sun is lower during winter and higher in summer.
This illustration shows that your solar panels will be more efficient during the summer months than in winter. The more perpendicular your panel is to sunlight, the higher its efficiency will be.
To make sure your solar panels are always in the sun, you will need to adjust them depending on what time of year it is.
The majority of homeowners who install solar panels cannot change the tilt at the beginning of every new season. The only way to adjust solar panels with ease is to use a ground-mount system and install axis-tracking solar panels; however, this approach has a negative net impact. While it does increase solar output, it disproportionately raises your costs as well, making axis trackers not worth the investment currently.
What is the difference in solar production with a shallow roof angle compared to a steeper angle?
Although you might expect a deep solar panel to produce more output than a shallow one, you’ll find that there is only a small difference in production between the two types of panels installed on roofs.
This is because the different pitches will balance themselves out across seasons. Solar panels on a shallow roof capture more sunlight during summer, whereas solar panels on a steep roof produce more power during winter.
Homeowners who have installed solar systems are content with the location of their installation, regardless of the angle.
How to determine the best angle for your address
The best way to find the optimal angle for your solar panels is by doing a Google search for the latitude of either your home address or zip code. An ideal angle for your solar panels will generally be equivalent to or near the latitude of where you live. Although, throughout different times during the year, the correct solar panel angles will change slightly.
As you can see from the example above, we went to Google Maps and entered a random zip code. We then clicked on a random spot within that zip code and Google gave us our latitude – 36.56. For this next part, we are going to take that number and round it up to 37 degrees for simplicity. Our optimal solar panel tilt is now going to be 37 degrees.
The solar panel angle that is best depends on the season and location. For example, if you live in the United States and it is summer, the ideal tilt for your solar panels should be 15 degrees less than your latitude. If it is winter, then you should tilt them at 15 degrees more. Factors such as these help us to determine our optimal tilts- which for summer would be 22 degrees (37-15), and 52 degrees for winter (37+15).
Bottom Line: What is the best angle for solar panels?
The optimal solar panel angle varies depending on your location and desired installation site.
The biggest factor for your solar panel energy production will be its azimuth or orientation. Depending on the roof’s exposure to sunlight, most homes have at least one side that is almost always sunny. This should be the side of your roof where you install the majority of panels.
Based on the information provided above, you can do your own calculations and determine if solar is right for you.
A solar power system isn’t only a fantastic way to make your home more efficient – it’s also great for the environment. But before you decide to go solar, there are other important issues to consider in addition to cost savings, such as choosing the right company that knows how to install solar panels correctly. Even if you’re not an installation expert, though, it’s still helpful to understand some of the basics of solar panel installation.