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Green Energy: Tips for Optimal Placement of Your Solar Panel System

2023-08-02

Green Energy: Tips for Optimal Placement of Your Solar Panel System

A solar panel system is not only a substantial contribution to sustainable energy production but also offers a fantastic opportunity for individuals to save money each month. It's almost like getting a raise. For the investment in a solar system to pay off, optimal placement and orientation are crucial.

 

Why is Proper Placement So Crucial?

The electrical output of a solar system can be predicted. The placement and orientation of the system are about maximizing sunlight hours to enhance the efficiency of the photovoltaic cells. There are various options for placing a solar system.

Typical mounting options include rooftops or mounting frames in the garden, on exterior walls, balconies, or even on a flat-roofed garage. The residential situation and installation possibilities, along with legal regulations, are key factors. Renters typically have different options compared to homeowners. However, generally, a solar system is cost-effective as long as there is sufficient sunlight. For renters, opportunities typically associated with homeowners might also be available. For instance, the so-called balcony power station or mini solar system up to 800 watts will likely no longer require landlord approval from January 2024, according to a draft law. However, landlords retain a say in how the systems are installed, though the decision would not be open to negotiation.

 

Maximizing Sunlight: Orientation and Tilt

Orientation is a critical part of a solar system's yield calculation. The next section will cover another factor: shading. Depending on the type of installation, the orientation might already be determined. Those installing their system on a pitched roof or a wall can choose between various roof pitches or wall orientations. With flat roofs or garden installations, there are broader possibilities.

The best yield is achieved when the sun strikes the solar panels at a right angle for as many hours as possible. Those wishing to install a solar system on an existing property have limited room for adjustment. However, with new constructions, the optimal angle can be considered, and the property can be accordingly aligned. Most existing properties with pitched roofs offer good conditions for solar system installation.

Ideally, a solar system should face south. Deviations from the ideal orientation are not necessarily problematic. To determine the degree of deviation from the ideal angle, the perfect south-facing orientation is set at 0 degrees, known as the azimuth angle. A deviation to the west is marked at 90 degrees and east at -90 degrees. Such deviations are generally seen as manageable. One can easily gauge their situation using a compass. Additionally, a split system facing east and west may be advantageous as it allows for two peak power periods, accommodating personal needs, especially if less power is used during the day but more in the mornings and evenings, which is often the case for working individuals.

In Germany, the optimal tilt angle is between 30 to 35 degrees. Like orientation, deviations from the optimal tilt angle are not highly problematic. If the tilt angle is between 10 and 60 degrees, only about 10 percent of the output is lost, and the system remains economically viable.

It's essential to differentiate between economic viability and environmental benefits when calculating profitability. As long as the energy used to manufacture the solar system components is less than what the system generates over its lifespan, the balance is positive and worthwhile from an environmental standpoint.

 

Obstacles and Shading: Considerations to Keep in Mind

Contrary to popular belief, obstacles and shading have a significant impact on the performance of a solar system, more so than orientation. Special attention should be given to the shadow effect on solar cells. The combination of optimal roof tilt and avoiding shading maximizes solar output. Potential shading sources include nearby buildings, trees, chimneys, and other objects. It is necessary to observe the installation area throughout the day as shadows move with the sun. Seasonal variations in the sun's angle should also be considered. While one cannot control shading from clouds, snow can be easily removed, provided the solar system is accessible.

 

Seasons and Climatic Conditions: Adjustments for Maximum Efficiency

There is no single best season for solar installations. Generally, once you decide to install a solar system, it should be connected to the grid as soon as possible since it begins to produce energy and positively impacts the electricity bill from the moment it is operational. Furthermore, a reduction in electricity prices is not anticipated, so delaying installation could have a negative financial impact.

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