When preparing for a solar panel installation, many people wonder whether they should tilt the panels or keep them flat. “What’s the best angle for solar panels?” is a question we’re often asked, so we thought we’d address the topic in detail.
Why Is the Angle of Solar Panels Important?
The angle at which you install your solar panels is important from an efficiency point of view. The more sun you capture at the ideal angle, the more energy your solar system produces. This means more energy to power your home and potentially more energy to export for feed-in tariff credits.
Aside from the angle, there are a few general rules for maximising solar panel output. Firstly, a roof facing the north sun will be most effective. Ideally, you also want your solar panels positioned perpendicular to the sun for maximum benefit.
The Best Angle for Solar Panels
Believe it or not, the best angle for solar panels is different depending on where you live. Naturally, you always want your panels on the side of the roof that gets the most daytime sun. However, the actual angle you should aim for changes from state to state. This is because the ideal angle is always equal to the latitude angle of your home’s location.
As a rough guide, the optimal angles for solar panels are listed below for Australia’s capital cities.
- Sydney – 33.9 degrees
- Melbourne – 37.8 degrees
- Perth – 31.9 degrees
- Brisbane – 27.5 degrees
- Hobart – 42.9 degrees
- Adelaide – 34.9 degrees
- Darwin – 12.5 degrees
So, if you are in the process of building a new home, you could request that your home be constructed with a roof pitch equal to your latitude angle. This way you’ll always have optimal conditions for solar panels. On existing homes, however, you may need professional panel mounting to achieve the optimal angle.
The Best Angle for Solar Panels Changes During Winter
It’s important to consider your solar energy goals before deciding on the installation angle. One of the reasons may be, the optimal angle actually changes during the winter months. To access maximum sun exposure in winter, the general rule is to add 15 degrees to the latitude angle of your home.
This is essential to know because it can affect the year-round benefits. Of course, you could potentially have a complex mounting structure installed that allows you to manually change the tilt at different times of the year, but the cost of this is prohibitive for most household solar customers.
However, let’s say you live in a state with a lot of sunshine, such as Queensland. There’s so much sun that the angle probably won’t matter too much in summer. In winter, however, you may benefit more from accessing the maximum sun exposure. So, you may want to install with winter in mind rather than summer for a sunny state.
Using Your Natural Roof Pitch
As we mentioned, unless you’re building a new home, you’re at the mercy of your existing roof pitch. Obviously, the angle of household roofs varies from home to home, so everybody will have different options available. So, the cheapest way to install your solar panels is to have them flat against your roof. Again, you need to weigh up the location and direction of your home and your roof’s pitch.
The alternative is to have your solar panels mounted to achieve the optimal angle. If your roof pitch is only slightly different to your latitude angle, mounting the panels is probably overkill. However, if your home is positioned in such a way that both sides of the roof would deliver an ineffective solar output, mounting might be your best option.
Consider the Expense of Mounting
If you decide to mount your solar panels for the optimal angle, it’s worth considering the cost of mounting. This obviously adds expense to your initial installation, and it may be too costly to bother with. We’ll discuss shortly the level of effectiveness you can expect to lose if your solar panel angle isn’t ideal, so you can make an informed decision whether the improved angle will pay off over time.
Yes, you’ll be able to generate more power over the life of your solar panels, but whether that extra energy delivers a financial benefit equal to the cost of mounting is always up for debate.
Solar Losses If Your Panels Are Angled Wrong
If you choose to stick with a flat installation using the pitch of your roof, it’s important to know what sort of efficiency decrease you may experience. The general consensus is if your solar panel angle is 10-15 degrees on either side of the optimal range, you’ll lose roughly 1-1.5% efficiency. So, generally, if your roof is pitched to any degree, you’re not likely to lose a whole lot of efficiency.
But what if your rooftop is flat? You are still able install solar panels on a flat roof, however, you can expect energy production to decrease a bit more significantly. For example, if you’re in Sydney with an optimal angle of 34 degrees, and your roof is flat, you could lose up to 13% efficiency. In Darwin, however, a flat roof barely loses any production. The further south you go, the more you lose by installing on a flat roof.
Looking For Expert Solar Installation?
If you’re not sure exactly how your solar panels should be angled, don’t panic. The team at Captain Green are experts in solar panel installation in Australia, so we can take care of everything for you. We’ll discuss your options, including using your existing roof pitch or mounting the panels for a certain angle. It’s a personal choice, and we’ll give you the information you need to make an informed decision on the best angle for solar panels on your property.
Captain Green also analyses your existing energy usage patterns to recommend the perfect solar system for your home. We consult thoroughly on your solar energy goals, giving you the information you need to make the right choice. For a free quote, contact us today and we’ll be happy to help.