In order to achieve maximum efficiency, a solar panel must capture as much solar energy as possible during the day. Choosing its location is the key to avoiding energy efficiency losses. To decide on the optimal location for your solar panel kit, first consider the different installation possibilities and then take into account the orientation and inclination.
Possible locations for a photovoltaic system
One of the first factors to consider is the possibility of connecting it to the local power grid, as well as to the home network.
The absence of shade and exposure must then be evaluated and the presence of elements that could cast their shadow on the modules in a few hours, such as trees, chimneys, buildings, etc., must be excluded.
In residential areas, the panels are usually placed on the roofs of buildings. This location is large enough to accommodate a sufficient number of panels to produce energy to meet domestic loads. Keep in mind that for a 3 kW residential system, you need 12 polycrystalline modules of 250 watts each, which individually measure 1.64 x 0.99 metres, so in total you will have a coverage of approximately 20 m².
If the roof is facing in the wrong direction (or if there is not enough space), your backyard might be a wiser location. Consider orientation as a critical factor in maximizing energy efficiency. For offices, on the other hand, it is more common to use an adjustable solar panel kit that can be positioned along the façade.
It should also be noted that the location of your inverter should not be too far from the modules to limit dispersion along the cables.
What is the best inclination and orientation of the solar panel?
In order for the solar kit not to lose efficiency and to improve the capture of solar energy, the inclination of the panels is a very relevant issue. For countries in the northern hemisphere, the solar panel must be oriented towards the true south.
With regard to the angle of inclination, this should be equal to the latitude of the location where the photovoltaic system will be installed. However, small variations in the slope will not significantly decrease the energy generated, and a variation of 10° plus or minus from the value of the latitude will not alter the capture of solar radiation. In France, this inclination is between 10° and 30°.
Because of the apparent movement of the Sun over the seasons, there are controls that guide the modules to follow the solar movement, these controls can be manual or automatic.
How do I choose between a roof-mounted and a ground-based system?
Each type of solar panel and system has its own advantages and disadvantages.
With regard to orientation and tilt, ground-mounted systems have a wider range of choices, so they are preferable from this point of view. However, when it comes to space and shadows, it is difficult to say who would have the advantage.
Other elements must also be taken into account, such as maintenance for example. It is much easier to clean your solar panels when they are on the ground than it is to go up on the roof and find a comfortable place to clean them. Cooling the solar panels is also important, and ground-mounted systems also have a leverage effect on this, as air circulates more naturally when they are on the ground.
However, they tend to cost more than a roof-mounted solar panel kit, as the brackets required for installation are more expensive. Ground-mounted systems require foundations, so excavations must also be carried out. All this increases labour costs and installation time.
On the day you have a barbecue and there is not enough space for solar panels, it can be frustrating. This is something that could bother you in the long run.
Choosing the right place to install your solar panels is harder than it looks. The best way to find the optimal solution in your case is to consult with your solar installer. Ask him all the questions you have and try to find the right balance between performance and lifestyle.