Saturday, August 1, 2009

SOLAR ENERGY: Solar Angle Calculators

By Jonathan Kuttner

Solar panels have an optimal angle to be set at depending on where they are in the world. This angle is simple to calculate and directly relates to the angle of latitude. For example, if you are living at 12 degrees North of the Equator, you want to face your panel directly South at a 12 degree angle. If you're in the Southern hemisphere, aim your panels North. If you're in the Northern hemisphere, aim your solar panels South.

Similarly, you can face your solar panels 30 degrees either side of South without losing a significant amount of energy.

How to Find the Best Angle for Your Solar Panel

Use the map below to find what your latitude is. When you've located your city using the zoom controls, click on it to find what your latitude is. This will be the best angle for your solar panels to be at. You can in fact be 15 degrees to either side of this optimum setting without losing much power or efficiency from your panels.

You can also set your solar panel for optimum performance in summer and winter. In summertime, the solar panel should be at a lower angle. This is because the sun is higher over head. In wintertime, the sun comes moves across the sky at a lower angle. So by angling your solar panels higher, you will catch more sun rays.

For the Northern hemisphere, your panels should be facing as close to South as possible. In the Southern hemisphere, you want to orientate your solar panels to the North.

There are tracking devices that follow the sun throughout the day, winter or summer. While these will gather more sunlight, the added expense of the tracking device may not justify the savings from gathering more sun energy.

A simple ratchet system can also be used on the solar panel angle mount to shift position twice a year from winter to summer settings.

To check out our solar angle calculator click here.

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