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Can You Install Solar Panels on a Curved Roof. Laying solar panels flat

Can You Install Solar Panels on a Curved Roof. Laying solar panels flat

    Can You Install Solar Panels on a Curved Roof?

    Installing solar panels can provide high-quality renewable energy for many years to come. Whether you’re doing it to reduce your environmental impact or you’re trying to save money, there’s no denying the usefulness of solar panels. However, many potential consumers are worried because they don’t have a flat space for the installation.

    • Different types of panels that you can use on your roof
    • Step-by-step instructions for each kind of solar panel
    • Avoidable mistakes and misconceptions about the installation process

    Which Solar Panels Can Fit on a Curved Roof?

    If you’re trying to mount solar panels on your curved roof, then it’s essential that you know which ones will work and which won’t. Trying to mount a flat panel on a curved surface is very difficult. IPSUN Solar has an excellent example of how you can get it done, but it’s challenging to do that sort of installation without professional assistance.

    Here are the two methods that you could try:

    • Use flexible solar panels. If you don’t need too much power, you could try the Renogy 175W 12V Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel. These panels form to your roof’s shape, so you don’t have to worry about building brackets or massive roof systems. Note that they don’t provide as much energy as traditional panels, but they’re worth it if you need to charge power tools, tech devices, and other low-energy gadgets.
    • Create a structure to mount flat solar panels. You’ll have to build it high enough to be a couple of inches taller than the highest point on your roof. Using metal brackets and bars is an excellent choice. This formation allows you to use any solar panels that you’d like to.

    I know that the cost is something many people worry about when it comes to solar energy. According to Energy Sage, the average household saves over 1,400 per year on their electricity bills from switching to solar. It’ll take a few years, but you’ll profit quite a bit. The sooner you change to renewable energy, the better off you’ll be.

    Now that you know the two best ways to DIY install solar panels on a curved roof, it’s time to learn the details of the process. Proceed to the next section to figure out how you can put solar panels on almost any roof, regardless of the curvature.

    How to Install the Panels

    Let’s break down the installation details into two sets; One for flexible panels and one for building a structure. You can use both guides as reference points.

    Installing Flexible Solar Panels on a Curved Roof

    • Measure the dimensions of the panels, then do the same for your roof. You should leave about eight inches on all sides for wiring, mounting tape, and drainage.
    • Place the flexible solar panels on the roof, ensuring they’re pressed flat against the surface. Most flexible panels come with adhesive that holds that to the roof, but you might have to get mounting brackets if they don’t.
    • Once the panels are mounted to the roof, use mounting tape to secure the sides and prevent moisture from getting underneath the panels. I recommend EternaBond Sealant Tape, but there are plenty of options. Make sure that the tape is at least four inches wide to secure the panels. Leave a small gap to allow water to drain.

    If you prefer a video format, review this helpful guide from Boss Watt on YouTube:

    How to Build a Raised Structure for Solar Energy

    • Use 5-foot to 10-foot lengths ofGenuine Unistrut to line the areas where your panels will be. Unistrut is designed to withstand the elements, so it’s a perfect solution for mounting solar panels on a curved roof. If your roof is too steep, consider creating a raised wooden structure with pre-treated Maplewood 2 x 4’s to even it out with the peak of the roof.
    • Install mounting brackets, such as theGenuine Unistrut Mounting Posts. They’ll fit on both ends of the Unistrut bars, but you might have to add a few brackets between each bar for extra support.
    • Add caulking along the edges of every screw, bar, and bracket that comes in contact with the roof. It’ll prevent leaks, rust, corrosion, squeaks, and many other issues.
    • Place the flat panels on the bars using Z-brackets (or your preferred solar panel mounting bracket. Z-brackets are designed to hold a solar panel to another flat surface, such as a roof, wooden posts, or Unistrut bars. Secure the brackets to the panels and the bars, then add screw glue to prevent rust.

    Here’s a quick video tutorial to give you a visual representation of the process:

    Common Mistakes

    Installing solar panels is relatively easy if you have all of the supplies. Even if you have a curved roof, you should be able to get the job done in about five to ten hours.

    Note: If you have a massive roof and you want to tie it into your house’s electricity grid, I highly recommend that you ditch the DIY route and hire an expert. You don’t want to risk electrical injuries or damage to your roof during the installation.

    Here’s a list of several common mistakes that people run into along the way:

    • Never forget to seal the panels. Many people think they’re done when the screws go into the roof, but you need to use caulking and screw glue. Failure to do so will result in rust, leaks, cracks, discoloration, stripped screws, and more.
    • Leave extra room on the roof. You don’t want the panels to go end to end, especially when you’re using flexible solar panels. There needs to be enough space for water to drain and wires to run through.
    • Position the panels to match the sun. The sun rises in the east, so make sure the panels have enough exposure from sunrise to sunset. You’ll get much more energy, and you won’t have to worry about wasting time and money.
    • You have to clean the roof before you install the solar panels. A dirty surface causes most adhesives to loosen, preventing them from getting secured. Use a blower and spray down the roof with a hose, then dry it off and choose your installation method.

    The #1 tip I could give you is to take it slow. It’s easy to make a mistake if you rush the process. Be safe, wear a hardhat and gloves, and ask a friend for a helping hand.

    install, solar, panels, curved, roof


    Just because your roof is curved doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the numerous solar energy benefits. Whether you’re driving an RV or looking for low-cost electricity for your workshop, there are countless reasons that you should try solar power.

    Here’s a quick recap of what this post should’ve taught you:

    • You can choose to install flexible panels or create a flat rack to mount them on your roof.
    • Make sure you attach brackets to the panels and the roof with screw glue.
    • Clean the panels regularly to prevent corrosion and displacement.
    • Never drill into a fragile, brittle roof.
    • Position the panels to match the sun’s patterns.

    Hi! I’m Steve. I’m the owner of Pro Energy Advice. I — along with everyone on the Pro Energy Advice team — love researching and writing about everything related to the science of energy. Thanks for visiting the site; I hope you learned something new.

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    As concern over our environment grows, sources of clean energy become more and more valuable. Solar power has been touted as a solution to our energy needs. Using the sun for.

    As the world moves away from fossil fuels, technicians are working with many types of sustainable power. By now you have certainly seen wind and solar power in action, and you’ve heard of.

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    Laying solar panels flat

    Customer Testimonials

    “Having solar panels has given me reassurance that my bills will stay manageable.”

    — Kerrie Lane, Egg Harbor City, NJ

    With Sunrun, you can take control of your own electricity, and not be left at the whims of your utility company with the next inevitable rate hike. Join the more than a quarter of a million American households who have gone solar with Sunrun.

    Whenever you’re ready, our solar advisors are here to help. We can provide you with a free quote. Feel free to try our Cost of Solar Calculator.

    A single solar panel costs between 2.67 and 3.43 to buy and install. 4 The price of the whole system is based on its capacity, measured in watts. How big a system you need will be based on how much energy you use, your roof’s sunlight exposure and panel efficiency.

    The amount you save will rely on several factors, including: 18

    • Region’s sunlight exposure
    • Cost of solar system (including battery, where available)
    • Cost of electricity
    • Energy use
    • Local rebates and incentives

    The average payback period for a residential solar system is between six to nine years, depending on the cost of your system, incentives and savings from your energy bill. 19

    Here’s a closer look at some of the things that determine your system costs.

    Here’s a breakdown of installation costs, based on findings from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory: 10

    Category Cost Breakdown
    Labor 0.30 per watt
    Panels 0.47/Wdc
    Inverter 0.12/Wdc. 0.39/Wdc
    Permit/Inspection 0.06/Wdc
    Structural BOS 0.10/Wdc
    Electrical BOS 0.19–0.27/Wdc (Varies by inverter option)
    Sales tax Sales tax varies by location; weighted national average: 6.9%
    Electrician 19.74–38.96 per hour (Varies by location and inverter option)
    Laborer 12.88–25.57 per hour (Varies by location and inverter option)
    Burden rates (% of direct labor) Total nationwide average: 31.8%

    Figures based on the average 6.2 kilowatt residential solar system.

    These figures are based on the average 6.2 kilowatt solar system. The cost of each system will vary based on panel manufacturer, inverter option, location and equipment.

    Maintenance of solar panels ranges from routine cleaning to major repairs. On average, households pay 150 for one solar panel cleaning. 11 Companies charge between 3 to 10 per panel based on roof slant, home height and system size. 11 Some firms charge a flat rate fee for a system cleaning. If you clean your system twice a year, as recommended, you can expect an annual bill of about 300.

    If your system is damaged, you may incur additional expenses. Repairs to your system will include the of equipment and labor. Labor is typically priced at 100 per hour. Materials for solar repairs could be as little as 180 but may also be greater than 1,000. Your combined, total bill may range from 200 to 3,000. 11

    The four most common types of damage to a home solar system and the costs of repairs area: 11

    Category Cost Breakdown
    Broken glass panel 20 – 350, plus labor
    Cracked panel 100 – 400
    Loose connection 100
    Replacement inverter 100 – 2,500

    Like cleaning costs, the amount you pay for repairs is affected by things like roof steepness, system type and system size. And if your panels have extensive damage, it may be cheaper to replace them. 11

    When you own your system, you are responsible for the cost of maintenance and repairs. Your warranty should cover specific system failures; contact your installer before you begin repairs. A Sunrun solar lease, lets you save thousands of dollars in maintenance and repairs. You simply pay for the power, and we take care of the rest. Our comprehensive service package features the Sunrun Guarantee, which includes best-in-class monitoring, free equipment replacement, and system repairs including parts and labor, and routine maintenance.

    If you’re set on buying your own home solar system, you can also purchase our full-service package, Protection Plus. While the system is yours, we’ll give you the same comprehensive support that comes with our Sunrun Guarantee.

    Panel manufacturer

    The price of your panels will depend on the manufacturer. Sunrun partners with LG, a world leader in solar technology and panels. Striking the right balance between quality, efficiency and affordability, LG offers some of the best solar panels on the market today. 14

    For a given manufacturer, higher efficiency panels cost more. 5 The good news is that the highest efficiency panels aren’t always needed, especially if your roof gets plenty of sun.

    Your state

    Another factor in determining your total home solar system cost is where you live. Here are the states with the lowest and highest average solar system costs:

    Least expensive solar install Most expensive solar install
    Florida: 9,198 – 11,970 Rhode Island: 13,104 – 15,792
    Arizona: 10,332 – 12,096 New York: 12,264 – 16,044
    Maryland: 10,332 – 12,768

    after 30% federal solar tax credit 5

    Just because a residential solar system costs more in a given state doesn’t mean it’s any less cost effective. 5 Local incentives can make a huge dent in solar installation costs even in the most expensive states.

    The three most common kinds of solar panels are monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film. 6 Here are the essential features of each:

    Solar panel type Description
    Monocrystalline Monocrystalline are the most efficient on the market today, which means you need less panels to fulfill your energy needs. Monocrystalline solar cells are single-crystal silicon, giving electrons greater freedom to move and create electricity. 7 These panels are typically black, giving your roof a sleeker aesthetic. Monocrystalline panels also maintain their efficiency for longer and usually come with a 20 to 25 year guarantee. 6
    Polycrystalline Polycrystalline panels are made with many fragments of silicon. 7 While this makes them less efficient, it creates less waste in production and are more affordable. 6 They also tend to have a blue tint, likely the most recognizable feature of solar panels today.
    Thin-film Unlike monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels, thin-film isn’t made of silicon. Instead, it’s layered with photovoltaic materials on metal or glass. 8 While the least expensive option, thin-film isn’t as efficient and likely won’t cover the average household’s energy needs without taking up lots of space. 6

    ​The type of solar panel you choose will factor into the price of the system. But remember that if you decide to lease, you’ll be paying for the power rather than the panels. The cost of solar will come down to the amount of solar power you’re projected to use under your lease agreement.

    Solar panel mount types

    While solar panels are the main component of a solar system, how you mount the panels will also affect the cost. There are three mount types: 6

    Mount type Cost Description
    Fix-mount 10–15 per mount Fixed-mount are stationary and can’t be moved to capture more sunlight, making them less efficient than other mounts. However, they’re also the least expensive. In addition, states with consistent sunlight such as Arizona and California are the least affected by this.
    Adjustable-mount 50 per mount Adjustable-mounts can be tilted to maximize solar energy production. This mount type can also lay your panels flat during a storm to avoid wind damage. While they’re more expensive than fixed mounts, adjustable-mounts might make the most sense for regions with more seasonal climates and less space to maximize energy production.
    Tracking-mount 500–3,000 per mount Tracking-mount follows the sun’s arch for maximum energy production. Even though they’re the most expensive, track-mounting could add 45% in energy production and might be worth considering based on your location. However, track mounting also requires more attention and will be much more costly to maintain.

    What Is The Best Angle And Orientation For Solar Panels?

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    Table of Contents

    We have all heard that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. However, the sun’s movement throughout the day is a little more complex. Why does this matter? Well, if you are in the market for the solar panel performance.

    THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT AND NOT EDITORIAL CONTENT. Please note that we do receive compensation for any products you buy or sign up to via this advertisement, and that compensation impacts the ranking and placement of any offers listed herein. We do not present information about every offer available. The information and savings numbers depicted above are for demonstration purposes only, and your results may vary.

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    Find a network of trusted installers for your solar system, solar panels and electricity needs. Find a solar panel installer today!

    Solar Panel Orientation

    Solar panel orientation is simply which cardinal direction the panel is facing: north, south, east or west. Typical solar panel application will follow true direction rather than aligning with the magnetic poles. For example, true north aligns with earth’s true axis rather than aligning with the north pole.

    Homes that have solar panels facing directly east or west will produce around 20% less energy. The proper solar panel orientation for homes located north of the equator is facing true south. For homes located south of the equator, it will be the opposite—,facing true north. This will provide the best orientation to allow the most exposure time to the sun and produce the most amount of electricity.

    Solar Panel Angle

    Solar panel angle is simply the vertical tilt of your solar panels. It can be a little more tricky to understand since the proper tilt will vary with geographic location and time of year. In terms of geographic location, the angle of your panels will increase the further you move from the equator. For context, in states such as Texas and Florida, the sun will stay higher in the sky meaning solar panels in lower states like these will require less tilt.

    For states such as New York and Michigan, the sun sits much lower in the sky, meaning solar panels in states up north will require more tilt.

    Determining Optimum Solar Panel Angle by Zip Code

    To find the optimal angle for your solar panels, do a Google search for the latitude of your home address or your zip code. Typically, an ideal angle for your solar panels will be equal or close to the latitude of your home. However, proper solar panel angle will fluctuate over the course of the year.

    For summer and the warmer months, it will be 15 degrees minus your latitude. For winter and and the cooler months, the ideal solar panel angle will be 15 degrees added to your latitude.

    Solar Panel Angle and the Impact of Seasons

    The proper angle of your solar panels will not only be affected by your geographic location but also by how the sun changes with each season. During the summer months, the sun will sit higher in the sky. And in winter, the sun will sit lower in the sky. This means that in order to get the most production out of your solar panels you will need to change the tilt with each season.

    However, most solar panels installed for home use are mounted on the roof at a fixed angle. Meaning, the process of changing the angle of your solar panels with each season can be quite difficult. There are systems that can be installed that will track the axis of the sun and adust the angle over time. But currently those systems are very expensive. And while they do increase the output of your panels, the increased cost may not be worth the initial investment.

    THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT AND NOT EDITORIAL CONTENT. Please note that we do receive compensation for any products you buy or sign up to via this advertisement, and that compensation impacts the ranking and placement of any offers listed herein. We do not present information about every offer available. The information and savings numbers depicted above are for demonstration purposes only, and your results may vary.

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    Factors Affecting the Optimum Solar Panel Angle

    Since solar panel angles are the vertical tilt of your solar system, various factors ensure you have the optimal angle for your solar panels.

    Roof Tilt

    Of course, everyone’s roof is designed differently, hence the importance of considering your roof’s tilt before installing solar panels.

    For instance, installing solar panels on a roof with a steep tilt may mean you can’t achieve an optimal tilt with a traditional racking system. Therefore, depending on how steep the angle of your roof is, the best you can do is lie your panels flat against the roof.

    Installing solar panels on low-angle roofs can also be complicated since they may require specialized racking if you want to tilt them at the optimal angle. Flush-mounting solar panels on a low-angled roof will produce less electricity and reduce solar savings.


    To receive exceptional solar savings, you’ll want your solar panels to be angled in a way that optimizes the sunlight exposure for that location. This is done by tilting your solar panels at the same angle as the latitude of your home. For most homeowners, the ideal angle for a solar panel installation is close to or equal to the latitude of your home. This angle is typically between 30 degrees and 45 degrees. Doing so ensures your home will get the maximum average output from your solar power system throughout the year.

    Time of Year/Season

    The time of year can certainly depict how effectively your solar panels work due to the sun’s position. For example, during the winter in the northern hemisphere, the sun is lower to the horizon. Therefore, it is more difficult for your solar panels to capture the sunlight to create energy.

    However, installing your panels at a steeper angle than your latitude (around 60 degrees) can help counteract winter production dips. Also, you’ll want to ensure your solar panels are installed at an angle where snow can easily slide off.

    Best Solar Companies By States And Cities

    Which Is Important: Angle or Orientation?

    Because of all the nuances and various factors involved with determining the proper angle of your solar panels, you might think that it is the most important factor come installation. However, the opposite is true. When it comes to solar panels, determining the correct orientation is the most important variable.

    Improper orientation will mean that your panels won’t get enough exposure time to the sun, reducing your electricity output drastically. The wrong angle on the correct orientation will produce more energy than the correct angle on the wrong orientation.

    Solar panels are a great way to improve the efficiency of your home and reduce your carbon footprint. There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding to go solar other than the potential cost savings. The company you choose will have the knowledge to install your solar panels appropriately, however, knowing a few key principals about solar panel installation is always a good starting point.

    install, solar, panels, curved, roof

    Proper solar panel orientation and angle is the ideal place to start since these two factors have the greatest effect on efficiency. Dissect the information this article lays out, and work the numbers as they pertain to the location of your home. This will enable you to compare information with your solar panel installer in order to make sure your panels are set up to run as efficiently as possible.

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    THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT AND NOT EDITORIAL CONTENT. Please note that we do receive compensation for any products you buy or sign up to via this advertisement, and that compensation impacts the ranking and placement of any offers listed herein. We do not present information about every offer available. The information and savings numbers depicted above are for demonstration purposes only, and your results may vary.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Is it worth tilting your solar panels?

    Yes – your solar panels must collect sunlight to produce solar energy successfully. Therefore, you want to ensure your solar panel is tilted to capture as much sunlight as possible. Therefore, to get the maximum average output from your solar power system, you should tilt your solar panels close to the same angle as the latitude of your home.

    install, solar, panels, curved, roof

    What is the best direction for solar panels?

    Since the sun is always in the southern half of the sky (in the northern hemisphere), solar panels that face south will receive the most direct sunlight and, therefore, is the best direction for solar panels.

    Do solar panels need to be south-facing?

    Although solar panels don’t necessarily need to be south-facing, it is the ideal direction to get the most output. However, east or west-facing panels can still capture sunlight and generate energy. Most solar companies will provide guidance and advice on what’s best angle for your solar energy setup.

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    Which Direction Should Your Solar Panels Face?

    As you can probably guess, solar panels generate more electricity when they are facing directly at the sun. While some utility-scale solar farms have structures that track the movement of the sun, residential and off-grid systems are generally left at the same orientation all year round.

    In many cases, you won’t be able to choose which way you mount your panels, as you will be placing solar panels on an existing roof. In this case, it is important to understand how different orientations will affect the output of the panels.

    If you have an off-grid or ground-mounted setup, you may be flexible in which way to face your panels. In this case, the ideal direction will depend on where you are located in the world, and what your goals are for your system.

    This article will cover both these scenarios.

    The orientation of your solar panels can be broken down into two types – Azimuth, and Tilt.


    Azimuth refers to the compass direction your solar panels are facing.

    In general, facing towards the equator (to the south in the northern hemisphere, and to the north in the southern hemisphere) will produce the most electricity over the course of a day, and should be your default choice where you have that option.

    Note that when we say “south” what we are really talking about is geographic south (also called true south), not magnetic south. This means that if you align your panels to the south using a compass you will be slightly off the optimum azimuth.

    To calculate geographic south you need to know the magnetic declination at your location which you can find using this website:

    This website gives step by step instructions for finding true south:

    If you are installing a ground-mounted system, you are typically able to place the panels facing any direction you like, so you can just choose south (or north in the southern hemisphere). However, if you are placing solar panels on an existing rooftop you will have to work with what you have.

    Can I install solar if I don’t have a south-facing roof?

    Luckily for homeowners that don’t have south-facing roofs, you can still generate significant amounts of power from west and east-facing solar panels.

    As an example, here are some simulated figures for a site in California. The table shows how much energy is produced per kilowatt of solar, per year, at different azimuths. The last column shows the percentage lost compared to 0° azimuth.

    Loss compared to 0° azimuth

    As you can see, even when facing directly west (90°), the system will still produce around 83% of a south-facing system.

    (These are just some example numbers to give you an idea of how azimuth can affect output. These percentages will vary based on site location, and other factors such as tilt angle)

    You need to be sure that you take losses due to azimuth into account when sizing your system. Therefore it is a good idea to use an online solar calculator to help you. Some of the typical hand calculation methods include rules of thumb for losses which assume a 0° azimuth.

    Even though south-facing panels will produce the most energy over an entire day, there are some cases where it can be more financially beneficial to install your panels facing more towards the west. For example when your utility uses Time Of Use rates.

    Time of use rates

    Different utilities have different ways of charging their users for the electricity they use. Some just have a flat rate for every kWh of electricity used, while others use Time Of Use (TOU) rates.

    TOU rates are when the utility charges you more for using electricity at peak times, than at off-peak times.

    Since peak times are typically in the evening, it can make sense to generate more electricity from your solar panels later in the day, so that you are using less from the grid during these times.

    This can be done by rotating your panels to the west, or if you have a rooftop with several different angles, it could mean you are better off placing panels on the west-facing rather than the east-facing sections.

    When rotating your panels further to the west, you will generate slightly less electricity over an entire day. But since the value of the electricity you produce is higher, you may save more money, and therefore generate a better return on your investment.

    Solar Panel Tilt

    The other type of solar panel direction you need to consider is the tilt angle.

    Tilt angle refers to the angle from the ground at which the solar panels are tilted, where 0° is lying flat.

    During summer, the sun is high up in the sky so a low tilt angle would capture more sunlight. However, in winter, the sun is much lower in the sky so you would capture more sunlight with a higher tilt angle. Therefore the best tilt angle will be somewhere in between.

    To generate the most electricity possible over the course of a year, a commonly used rule of thumb is to use the latitude of your location as the tilt angle. So for example, if you are located in Houston, Texas directly at 30° latitude, then you would tilt your panels at 30° for maximum electricity production.

    While this method will give you a good starting point, close to the optimum tilt, it can often be improved on. You can usually increase your output slightly by decreasing the tilt to capture more energy during the longer summer days. How much you need to reduce the tilt depends on your location.

    While some people use rules of thumb for this, we suggest simply trying a few different tilts close to your latitude angle, in whatever solar calculator you are using, and see which one results in the highest annual output for your location.

    The increase in output that you get from this further optimization may be fairly negligible, but in some areas, it can increase output by around 0.5% or so, so it is worth checking.

    Keep in mind that your racking installation may only be accurate to within 5° or so anyway, so you don’t need to get too caught up in finding the exact optimum tilt angle to within 1°.

    install, solar, panels, curved, roof

    If you are installing a rooftop system you will generally follow the slope of the roof, so you won’t be able to decide what tilt angle to use. Your system may produce a little less electricity than if it was at the optimum tilt, but it is unlikely to mean you can’t install solar at all.

    For example, here are some simulated figures for a site in Los Angeles, California. The table shows how much energy is produced per kilowatt of solar, per year, at different tilt angles. The last column shows the percentage lost compared to the optimum tilt angle.

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