If you’re looking to install solar panels, there are a number of considerations – solar panel type and number, how you connect to the grid, the best supplier to work with, as well as the best angle for mounting the panels. Here’s a look at how this is determined.
Where are solar panels installed?
Solar panels are typically installed on the roof or – when this is not possible – on the ground. Many people are under the misconception that their roof is unsuitable for solar panels because of the location, material or dimensions. However, the main factors impacting the performance of solar panels is the orientation and tilt of the roof.
To fully understand the best angle for your solar panels, you just have to understand the terminology related to angling:
- Tilt angle or elevation angle – The vertical angle of your solar panels.
- Azimuth angle – The horizontal orientation of your solar panels in relation to the equator.
Why is the solar panel angle important?
To maximise on energy yields, solar panels must face directly into the sun. However, in reality, that is not possible as the sun will move across the sky throughout the day, and the sun angle also changes throughout the year with the seasons. This is why the tilt and azimuth angle of the solar panel is so important – you want them to produce maximum energy when the sun is perpendicular to the panels.
What is the best angle for South African solar panels?
For those of us living in the southern hemisphere, solar panels should be orientated towards the north to gain maximum energy, with the panels pitched between 25 and 35 degrees – in line with the site’s latitude. The orientation results in a true bell curve whereby the power increases as the day goes on, peaking and midday and then falling until sunset.
- What about after the sun is at its zenith?
Solar panels are best used in conjunction with an inverter or other storage space which will store the surplus energy for use after the sun has set. If location and budgets allow, it’s also possible to split the panel string so that you have some west- or east-facing solar panels for maximum yield. This would smooth the supply of power during the day and prevent spikes of power at midday. It also reduces the overall amount of electricity needed from the national grid during your working day.
What about installing solar panels on a flat roof?
When it comes to domestic solar panel arrays, you’ll likely be working off a sloped roof. However, in commercial applications, you could have a flat roof which requires more elevation for the solar panels. For a flat rooftop installation, your solar panel array would require tilt racks or frameless panels which might cost a bit more than the standard installation, but they are necessary to ensure you’re maximising energy yields through angle.
What is the process of solar panel installation?
Once your supplier has assessed the location and determined the correct solar panel angle, the installation can get underway. This is a fairly straightforward process that includes the following steps:
Step 1: Solar panel mounts
The solar panel mounts are set up to form a support base for the solar panel. The mounts will determine the panel angle for maximum sun exposure.
Step 2: Install solar panels
Once the mounts are in place, the solar panels will be installed and tightened in place with nuts and bolts.
Step 3: Wiring the solar panels
The wiring for the panels will then be installed, using the correctly specified wire and ensuring that all connections are secure and tight.
Step 4: Install inverter
The inverter is generally installed near the solar panels to minimise cable run and often installed in a cooler space so that higher temperatures don’t damage the standby batteries.
Step 5: Connection
The inverter is connected to both the solar battery (so that you’re able to access energy even when the sun isn’t shining) as well as the solar panels. The inverter is then connected to the consumer unit to generate electricity from the solar panels or battery or combination of both depending on the settings.
Step 6: Test solar panels
Switch on the power and test the solar panel array to ensure everything is fully functional.
If you’re looking to invest in a solar panel array as a way to save on costs, to protect yourself during load shedding, and to protect the environment – among other benefits – then contact JUP Solutions. These industry experts will guide you on the solar panel number, type and angle, as well as completing the installation and follow-up assistance where needed.
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