Where to Install Your Solar Panels (And Where You Shouldn’t)

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Installing solar panels can be a huge leap toward saving electricity costs and energy efficiency. But the road to doing so can be long and difficult. One problem you’ll face: where to put the panels?

The first step is to find a solar company you trust. Companies take into account a number of factors when installing solar panels, from the position of trees in your yard to the slope of your roof, to maximize efficiency and sustainability.

The good news is that finding a good location for solar panels has never been easier. Thanks to a rapidly advancing industry, panels are lighter and more efficient than ever before. Almost everyone has a home that can support solar.

“Technological advancements and manufacturing have now become faster, cheaper (and) more available,” Ryan Barnett, Palmetto Solar’s senior vice president of policy and market development, told CNET. “Where there were only a handful of module manufacturers 10 to 15 years ago, there are now dozens of module manufacturers.”

Here are some of the best places to put your solar panels — and the worst.

Places to Avoid Installing Solar Panels

Due to technological advancements in the solar energy industry, we have more options than ever when it comes to installing solar panels. But that doesn’t mean you’ll want to put your panels just anywhere.

There are a few basic elements you’ll want to factor into your decision. Your installer will perform a site assessment of your property to determine the ideal location of your panels. If you already have a specific location in mind, run it by your installer.

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Here are some things you’ll want to avoid when installing your panels:

  • too much shade: Solar panels are most efficient when exposed to direct sunlight. If you have a lot of trees in your yard, you may want to avoid placing the panels in a location that is typically covered in shade. However, as is the case with most solar installations, a little shade is fine.
  • Old or weak roof: You don’t want to install solar panels on a roof that can’t withstand the additional pressure. If your roof is a bit old or damaged, it may be best to repair your roof before installing solar panels. Any roof repairs needed will become more complicated once the panels are installed. Most installers will inspect the roof before proceeding with the installation process.
  • Inconvenient or confined spacesTheoretically, you can put solar panels almost anywhere. But you probably don’t want to choose an area that is difficult to access or where the conduit that carries the energy to the inverter is not easy to reach. Your installer should be able to choose the most efficient area to put your panels.

Common locations to install solar panels

If you’ve walked around a neighborhood recently, you probably already know the typical places to install solar panels: on the roof or planted in the ground. Ideally, solar panels should face the sun, be free of shade and structures blocking them and avoid areas where they could be damaged or tampered with. But the most important thing is that they should be inclined upwards. This leaves you with only a few options for panel placement.

Roof

When most people think of solar panels, they probably imagine them on the roof.

Choosing rooftop solar makes sense for several reasons. This helps save space in your yard and brings the panels closer to the sun, sitting on a roof you weren’t already using for anything other than shelter. Installing panels on the roof also helps avoid trees that may have already been cut from the house.

The existing tilt of the roof also helps, bringing the panels closer to the sun. A tilt of 15 to 35 degrees is optimal for direct sunlight. However, the direction your panels are tilted is more important than how they are tilted. You’ll get the best results from a south-facing roof, but east and west-facing solar panels are still viable.

“There’s no bad option for rooftop installation anymore,” Barnett says. “The equipment has become so efficient that even 200, 300 or 400 square feet of usable, optimal space on a rooftop is enough to offset a fraction of your entire home’s electricity consumption.”

Situations where a roof will not be suitable for solar panels are rare, but they do occur. Deteriorating structures, the odd shape of a roof that is outside the recommended inclination or complete shade from huge trees are just some of the circumstances that can make installing rooftop solar a challenge.

mounted on ground

If you have limited rooftop space or want easy access to the panels, installing a solar power system on the ground may make sense.

Barnett said, “Ground mount is a really attractive and viable option for homeowners who have larger properties and who have space and sunlight free from trees and forests. They can install a ground-mounted system, which Generally established in the south-south-west direction.”

Like rooftop solar, the viability of ground-mounted systems depends largely on what is above and below the panels. Panels cannot be installed in a location covered by trees. Installing panels on uneven or rocky ground can also be challenging.

Other places to install solar panels

Rooftop solar dominates the market, and most of the remaining solar installations are ground-mounted. If you’re one of those rare customers whose home isn’t suitable for any type of solar installation, where can you turn?

Those are niche installations, but you can install solar panels on garages, canopies, pergolas, or other structures away from your home. In these cases, the less available space means your solar panels are likely more supplemental in nature, providing power to a specific area of ​​your home or property rather than your entire home.

The option to be able to place panels in these specific locations is due to improvements in technology.

“The racking and modules themselves have become lighter and more efficient; there is less hardware involved,” Barnett said. “So the structure that was in place to support the modules 10 years ago is different today because the devices themselves are much lighter.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Which way should my solar panels face?

Solar panels are most efficient when facing south. The east and west facing panels are not the best positions, but should still perform well.

What angle is best for solar panels?

The ideal angle for solar panels depends slightly on geography and the time of year. In general, the best angle for a solar panel is between 15 and 35 degrees.

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