The first question to ask is “should solar panels face north or south?” Unless you are on the equator the sun is not in direct line with your home. If so, the sun’s rays will not hit your solar panels directly on. Instead, the sun will move at an angle, so the best choice would be to place them to face the south.
West-facing solar panels are more economical than south-facing solar panels
While south-facing solar panels are best for year-round use, west-facing panels are ideal for maximum solar energy production during peak hours. Many utilities charge higher prices during peak hours, so using solar power at these times can mitigate the costs associated with peak-hour power usage. Actually, solar panels facing west can produce up to 50% more energy than those facing south.
For most people, the best orientation for their solar panels is south-facing. This is because solar panels facing south receive more light from the setting sun and generate more power during the late afternoon and evening hours. Solar panels facing west, on the other hand, receive less sunlight which reduces their total solar production for the day. The optimal orientation depends on the peak and off-peak electricity rates. If your peak and offpeak rates are three times or more than the off-peak rates then it is best to be slightly west or southwest of south.
Plan your solar panels in the direction that receives the greatest amount of direct sunlight. For example, if your home is in a part of the world with cloudy skies, the best orientation is west. If your roof slopes toward the east, the panels can be placed on the east side. You can use the NREL PVWatts tool to accomplish this.
Depending on where you live, the optimal solar panel angle can be anywhere from thirty to forty degrees. For Alaskans, the optimal solar panel angle is forty degrees or higher. The angle is important for solar energy production. However, it can also be helpful in maintenance because snow is more likely to slide off of a higher angle.
Although they produce less electricity than panels facing south, west-facing panels still generate more electricity during peak hours. A recent study found that a 5.5-kW system facing west produced about 50 percent more electricity during peak hour than one with a southfacing solar panel. Although, overall production is less, it can be an excellent option if you are in a situation where you spend most of your time outside during the day.
Solar panels will produce the most power during summer when the sun is overhead. On-peak energy is worth nearly twice as much as off-peak energy. In winter, the amount generated by a solar array in the winter months is about twenty percent lower.
Despite their lower output, west-facing solar panels will save you money on electricity bills. They also produce more energy in peak hours, which is when most electricity is used. This means that a west-facing panel will lower your household power bills by up to four percent.
For the best prices on solar panels, consult a solar provider. The costs vary depending on the size of the system. Larger solar power systems will require more labor and equipment and require more space on the roof, but will pay for themselves in the long run.
Incentivize west-facing solar panels to hit peak demand
Some utilities have already begun offering financial incentives for switching to solar energy from traditional power plants. Some plans even pay as much as 35 cents per kilowatt hour for late afternoon or early morning power. These incentives are intended to encourage solar panel installation and avoid the high marginal cost associated with peaker power plants. A $500 incentive can be granted to new west-facing solar panels, according to the California Energy Commission.
For energy production, the optimal orientation is slightly east or west of south. The optimal azimuth for most sites is between 190 and 200 degrees. However, the exact azimuth can vary. In general, the more south-facing your solar panels are, the lower their energy production value.
Solar panel owners should make a point of pointing their panels at the west rather than the south to ensure maximum output during peak demand. Although this means a lower output during daytime, it does give them more energy during peak times. If you’re paying by the hour, it may make sense to install a west-facing solar panel.
Columbia Electric Utility encourages new customers to install west-facing solar panels to qualify for rebates. This is because the utility wants to encourage solar production at the time of highest demand. A west-facing solar array, for instance, can earn a $500 per-kilowatt rebate from Columbia. The rebates are higher for larger systems, but lower for smaller ones.
Another incentive to consider is the state of California. The state has positioned itself well to take advantage of the growing popularity of solar panels in California. This state has increased renewable energy rebates for solar homes to help reduce air pollution. The state also offers financial incentives to encourage energy-efficient construction.
The study also shows that the utility’s time-of-use energy pricing system can boost the value of west-facing solar arrays. The study’s limitations are its limited geographic scope and focus on summertime. The study also only examined a few residential projects in one region. It was also limited to one city and one region, which makes it difficult to predict the value of a year.
It is worth noting that solar panels facing west can benefit the system’s overall production by as much as 50% during the peak demand hours. These benefits come from the fact that homes with solar systems tend to consume more electricity from 4 p.m. through the evening, contributing to the overall peak demand of the system.
South-facing solar panels can increase production
Installing solar panels with a south-facing orientation will help you generate more power during the day. In the northern hemisphere, the sun’s path is always in the south, which means that south-facing panels will get the maximum amount of sunlight. However, panels that are angled to the east or west will generate less energy during the day.
South-facing systems are more productive than west-facing ones during off-peak hours. They produce more energy in the early afternoon, when electric use is lowest. Their peak output will therefore be higher than their offpeak counterparts. The resulting lower peak load will offset any utility impact.
South-facing solar panels can also be used to store batteries. These systems are designed to collect power during the day and store it in a battery for later use. A battery stored in the solar system will allow you to take advantage of power availability during peak hours or grid outages.
While west-facing panels produce less electricity than north-facing solar panels, they tend to be more productive during the afternoon. They peak at their highest production one half hour after noon and produce a quarter of their peak amount before sunset. This makes them a good choice for people who spend a lot of time outdoors in the summer or who typically leave the house at sunset.