Everything You Need to Know about Roof Orientation and Solar Angle

The benefits that come with solar energy are increasingly becoming crystal clear for everyone. An ardent electric consumer understands the high costs they incur from regular electricity connection.  Besides, there is no indication that the costs could decrease in the future. Therefore, solar power becomes the best bet for now and the future. There is no pollution, no raw fuel costs, and it is available even in the most remote regions.  

Some people may think that mounting solar panel on their roof is everything. However, did you know that there is an optimum angle for solar panels? Photovoltaic (PV) modules have a perfect design to absorb the radiation from the sun.

However, the panels are stationary in the position you mount. On the other hand, the radiation from the sun does not come from the same direction. It changes position from a specific point on the earth’s surface throughout the day. The amount of electricity you get from your system depends on the direction strike the modules.

Once you decide to invest in a solar project, you need to consider the best solar panels’ angle. You want to maximize the energy you receive from the sun. This article gives comprehensive information about the solar inclination and how to reap maximum benefit from solar energy.

Solar Azimuth and Zenith

Generally, solar panel systems perform optimally if their surface is perpendicular to the sun’s radiation. There are two angles through which you can plot the sun’s position in the sky. One of them is the solar azimuth. This is an incline from the true south. There is also the solar zenith angle, which is the sun’s angle from the earth’s surface.

Solar Azimuth

Solar azimuth is the sun’s angle as it shifts position across the sky from east to west. It is the angle you measure from the true south. The solar azimuth is zero degrees at noon. If you are in the northern hemisphere at that moment, the sun is directly south. On the other hand, it is directly north if you are in the southern hemisphere.

On the east of the due south, the solar azimuth angles are negative. Therefore, the azimuth angle in the due east is negative ninety degrees. It is the opposite scenario on the west of due south where the solar azimuth angles are positive. Meaning the azimuth angle for due west is positive ninety degrees.

Due to these variations, the solar azimuth for a proper solar system is not a constant figure. It depends on the time of the year and the latitude.

Solar Zenith

Solar zenith angle is the sun’s inclination when you look at it from the earth’s surface or horizon. In the course of the day, this angle keeps changing, and it reaches the maximum elevation at around midday. During sunrise and sunset, the elevation of the sun is at 0o. At noon, the sun is perpendicular to the ground level, an elevation known as solar altitude. However, the sun’s elevation is not the same in winter and summer solstice. 

Orientation and Tilt

in simpler terms, solar azimuth denotes how the sun moves across the sky, whereas the solar zenith angle indicates how it shifts its position up and down. The two aspects make it a challenge to come up with a fixed optimum angle for solar panels.

During winter, the position of the sun in the sky is relatively lower. Therefore, solar angles should inline more vertically. The reason being there is a reduced intensity of the solar radiation as it passes through the atmosphere. The clouds and the atmosphere tends to scatter and absorb a significant amount of sunlight.

On the other hand, the solar angles should incline more horizontally during summer. In this season, the sun is at a higher position in the sky, and its radiation is stronger and more direct. Therefore, it travels through a shorter distance to strike the earth’s surface.

The two options are either to go for permanent or adjustable solar angles. In permanent, it means that you mount your system in a stationary position. Unfortunately, you won’t receive the maximum conversion of the sun’s radiation into electricity. However, you can decide to go the adjustment way. The solar panels’ adjustment can give you between 10-40% extra power output in a year.

Solar Panel System Orientation

When you come across solar panel orientation, it means your solar azimuth setting. You already understand that the solar output is more if the panel is perpendicular to the incoming radiation. Therefore, the optimum angle for solar panels involves setting it facing the terrestrial equator. It should face south if you are in the northern hemisphere and north if you are in the lower half of the globe.

When setting solar angles, it is also essential to ensure that there is no shading. That could be the shadow from trees, other solar panels, trees, or walls.

Solar Panel System Tilt

Solar zenith angle setting involves finding the appropriate solar panel tilt. After finding the best solar azimuth, then you move on to the elevation of the solar module. The maximum height that the sun achieves in a day varies. It reaches a maximum angle of around 62o in summer solstice and a minimum angle of 15o in the winter solstice.

Solar Tracking

Tracking the position of the sun is vital if you are keen to maximize solar output. It has the potential to increase the annual power generation by between 25-30%. Additionally, the conversion efficiency resulting from solar tracking could significantly lower the number of solar panels you need to install.

A solar tracking system changes the solar panel angle with the shifting direction of incoming radiation.

It is essential to know the best solar panel angle for you to optimize the output. This aspect has a big impact on the cost-effectiveness of the solar system. It does not matter whether you are installing the solar panels in a residential or a commercial enterprise. The best solar panel angle ensures that you reap the most from your system.