Positioning Your Home Solar Panels

When positioning your home solar panels, that is, setting the direction and angle, you must always keep in mind that the objective is to obtain the maximum sun exposure.  The angle at which the sun strikes the panel determines the amount of exposure, and this angle changes throughout the year and varies with one’s location on the globe.  It is essential to map the annual circuit of the sun over your home.

Another major consideration when installing home solar panels is whether or not to include a dynamic tracking mount to compensate for daily and seasonal movements of the sun.   Many opt for additional stationery panels to compensate.  Homeowners may choose a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) controller, also known as a power tracker. Solar panels can produce varying amperage impacted by such factors as weather and  temperature.  The MPPT figures out what is the best power that the panel can put out to charge the battery, and is able to increase the amount of amps going in to the battery. Whereas as dynamic tracking mounts can give a 15% increase in winter and up to a 35% increase in summer, an MPPT can give up to a 20 to 45% power gain in winter and 10-15% in summer.

It is likewise important to understand that shading, or blocking of sun, to any part of a panel affects the output exponentially in relation to the amount blocked, due to the serial construction of the cells.  A one-quarter blocked panel can equal fifty percent or more reduction in production.  If you have the space, a ground mount is the most accessible for the minimal required monitoring and maintenance, and to prevent shading problems.  There are software programs available to Do-It-Yourselfers (DIY) or professionals that include a real-time shadow engine.

Positioning your home solar panels is a complex task that justifies hiring a seasoned professional.  However, a homeowner can position his or her own home solar panels with the proper research and tools.  Uppermost is to evaluate how to capture the sunlight when it is most direct.  Aiming the panels at the equator and setting the tilt for one’s latitude is the basic formula, recalling that the sun is not always overhead when it is most direct.  By adding or subtracting fifteen degrees in mid-October and mid-March with the use of manual tilting mounts, the greatest amount of solar energy can be captured without a tracking mount.

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