Does My Property Get Enough Sun for Solar Panels?
Northern Ohio is one of the cloudiest areas in the country. In any given year, locals can expect thick clouds or rain 55% of the days.
Given that, Northern Ohio may not seem like the most hospitable environment for a renewable energy system dependent on sunshine.
However, nüCamp RV, a trailer, camper, and RV manufacturer in Sugarcreek, Ohio invested in a 629.7 kW solar energy system to power their operations. Despite the area’s cloudy weather, in just three months that system had cut the manufacturer’s electricity bill in half. Their solar investment has a 17.5% ROI and helped them free up liquid assets to invest elsewhere in the business.
The truth is, nüCamp RV’s story isn’t an anomaly. Time and time again solar energy proves itself in cloudy climates, rewarding owners with high ROIs and fast payback periods.
You don’t need to live in Arizona, California, or Florida to make solar energy worthwhile. Solar has proven itself as a reliable energy source and valuable investment even in regions renowned for their cloudy weather.
So just how much sunlight is needed for solar power, and is your property suitable for solar panels?
When you’re evaluating the suitability of your property for solar panels, exposure to natural daylight is a major factor. The more direct sunlight your panels receive, the more free electricity they’ll produce.
Two factors have an impact: your local climate and expected weather patterns, and shading.
Local Weather The Climate
Some areas, like Upstate New York and Northern Ohio, are cloudy. There’s simply no getting around that. Add on heavy snows that can blanket your systems and block sunlight for days, and it may seem like solar panels will never see daylight.
But increasing energy costs, decreasing solar installation costs. and improving technology challenge that assumption.
Your solar panels don’t need blue skies to produce electricity. Even on cloudy days, your solar panels will still receive photons from the sun and convert them into energy. Albeit they’ll produce less energy on cloudy days as opposed to sunny days, they’ll still churn out free electricity.
Some research suggests that if the sun casts a shadow, there’s enough sunlight to produce energy. On a partly cloudy day, your production may drop to 75%. On the most overcast day, your system could still produce 10% to 30% of the electricity it would on a perfectly sunny day.
In addition, solar panels are more efficient at cooler temperatures. This is another boost for those cloudy days, although a small one.
Making Up for the Lost Production
Cloudy weather decreases the amount of electricity your solar panels can produce. But making up for that lost solar electricity can be fairly easy and inexpensive. The way around this is to upsize your system by adding a few more solar panels.
By adding a few extra solar panels to your system, you’ll increase the amount of electricity you can produce, making up for what’s lost due to Cloud coverage. Creating a slightly larger system won’t significantly increase the cost, as most of the soft costs associated with going solar will stay the same regardless of size. The hard costs, like equipment, are becoming increasingly affordable as technology improves and solar components costs continue to decline.
Will Solar Still Save You Money?
By increasing the size of your system to make up for poor weather, your system might cost slightly more than it would in a sunnier state.
However, you also stand to save more.
On average, the Northeast has the highest electricity rates in the contiguous United States (aside from California). So while a solar system in New York may be producing less electricity than a system in Florida, the electricity produced in New York will be worth more.
New York and a handful of other states have local incentives that help keep installation costs down. Here’s a list of incentives available in each mid-Atlantic state.
Trees, Building, and Shading
While the weather may seem like a huge factor in determining whether or not solar panels can work on your property, local sources of shading can be more prohibitive. You need direct sunlight for solar panels to work optimally, and shading interferes with that
Things like trees, buildings, nearby hills or mountains, and something as thin as power lines can impact the number of sun hours per day your solar panels receive. Even partial shading can reduce the amount of energy your solar panels are able to produce.
You Need How Many Hours of Sunlight for Solar Panels?
In the best-case scenario, you’ll want your solar panels to receive about four or five hours of direct sunlight. Specifically, that sunlight should reach your panels between 10 am and 3 pm.
This is when the sun is in its highest position and the rays are the most direct. If there are sources of shading on your property that block the sun from your panels during those hours, you may want to see what you can do to decrease the shade before installing solar panels. Your installation company will be able to help identify these obstructions.
How to Tell If Your Property Is Shaded
Shading is dynamic and changes throughout the day as the sun moves across the sky. This can make calculating the number of peak sun hours tricky unless you have the correct tools.
There are some free, online tools that can give you a rough estimate of how much sunlight your property receives, like Google’s Project Sunroof.
You can also try calculating shade with the 1-3 rule.
With this method, you’ll multiply the height of the tree or object that produces shade by three. This will give you the length of the object’s shadow, which is how far away from the object you’ll want to install your system.
The best way to determine whether or not your house gets enough sun for solar panels is to have a solar installer come out and evaluate your property.
Using a tool called a solar pathfinder, they’ll determine how much shade your roof or plot of land receives throughout the day. This tool reveals any shading that may occur throughout the year at any time of day.
Is My Property Suitable for Solar Panels?
There’s no specific, set amount of sunlight needed for solar panels. Even in the cloudiest areas of the US and even worldwide, solar has proven itself time and time again as a reliable energy source and profitable investment.
While local weather patterns will come into play when determining the size of your system, local sources of shading will likely have a bigger impact.
To get an accurate idea of whether or not you’re a good candidate for solar, have a solar installer take a look at your property and do a shade analysis. They’ll then combine that information with historical weather patterns and design a system that meets your needs.
You’ll have a clear picture of how much clean energy you can expect your solar panels to produce specific to your property.
Home Solar 101: Does My Roof Have to Face South for Solar?
It’s a fact—the orientation of your roof affects how much energy solar panels can potentially produce. Still, it’s not as straightforward as assigning a “one-size fits all” hard and fast rule for solar panel placement. For homes in the northern hemisphere, south-facing solar panels do receive the most direct sunlight throughout the year. However, a south-facing roof is by no means a necessity for a productive and economically viable solar power system.
A rooftop solar power system facing east or west can still generate enough energy to meet your energy demands—particularly if it’s paired with a home battery backup system. Solar panel direction is one of several factors that determine the viability of rooftop solar. Here is a breakdown of the role roof orientation plays in producing clean, renewable energy for your home.
SOLAR PANEL PLACEMENT: EAST-WEST VS SOUTH SOLAR PANELS
In the northern hemisphere, since the sun’s path is always in the southern sky, static, south-facing panels are able to soak up the most sunshine during the year. Panels angled to the southwest or southeast produce around 8% less than their due-south counterparts. If the solar panels face directly east or west, the production is closer to 20% less than directly south-facing panels.
The orientation of your roof does influence solar panel production, but it is not the most significant influence on a solar power system’s cost-effectiveness. The cost of your electricity and the available state and local solar incentives have a bigger impact on solar’s Return on Investment (ROI) than how much power the system is able to produce. This is why less sunny states, like Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey, still rank in the top ten states for solar capacity. They have expensive electricity and solid solar incentives. Click here to see how your state stacks up in supporting solar.
Your electric utility’s rate structure can also influence the importance of roof orientation. If your utility uses a time-of-use (TOU) pricing structure, then your electricity costs more at the highest usage times (peak demand). These high demand periods are generally in the afternoon and evening, as people return home, turn up the AC, cook dinner, etc.
West-facing solar panels receive the most sun at this time and, therefore, displace more grid energy during these peak demand periods. One study found that west-facing panels generated nearly 50% more than south-facing counterparts during peak demand hours when normalized for a 5.5 kW system. So, although the overall production is less, west-facing panels are producing energy when it matters the most for savings.
One alternative strategy to mitigate peak demand pricing is to install an energy storage system with your solar panels, such as the new Humless home batteries now offered by IPS. With a home solar battery, no matter what direction your solar panels face, so long as they’re able to generate energy, you’re able to store energy for consumption when electricity is most expensive, thereby maximizing your savings.
WHAT IF A NORTH-FACING ROOF IS MY ONLY OPTION?
Getting meaningful production from solar panels on a north-facing roof requires mounting them in opposition to the roof slant. That results in a more considerable aesthetic impact, and the total production will still be less than with south, east, or west-facing systems. You’ll still see a few of these setups on older systems here in Colorado that have no alternate roof space available, but generally, in these instances, it’s helpful to consider non-roof locations for solar on your property and to utilize solar ground mounts or pole mounts instead of roof mounts.
Generally, the roof is the best opportunity for a large, unshaded space on your property. Still, if you have sufficient yard space, a ground-mounted system can actually be cheaper than a roof-mounted one. Ground-based solar panels also offer easier maintenance access and create shade for landscaping or gardening.
ROOF PITCH ALSO MATTERS FOR SOLAR PANEL ORIENTATION
Though less impactful than the roof orientation, the angle of solar panels also affects production. The goal is to maximize sunlight that hits the panels at a perpendicular angle. If the panels are to be mounted flush with the roof, then the steepness, called roof pitch, decides the angle of the solar panels.
The ideal angle for south-facing panels here in the U.S. is between 30 and 40 degrees (unless you’re in Alaska where panels need to be angled much steeper). The system’s latitude will determine what the exact best angle is for solar production. Steeper angles have the added benefit of helping with maintenance, as snow and debris tend to slide right off.
East- and west-facing panels generate more energy when mounted flatter than 30 degrees. For example, east or west-facing solar panels that are at a 15-degree tilt trail the production of south-facing panels by 15% instead of 20% when at a 30-degree tilt.
Sub-optimal roof pitch can be corrected by constructing a mounting system that angles the panels to a preferred tilt, but this typically comes at a premium. Homes with flat roof are often able to utilize ballast-mounted systems, which have the added benefit of not requiring roof penetrations or additional racking.
THERE IS MUCH MORE TO SOLAR THAN ROOF ORIENTATION
South-facing solar panels produce the most energy in the northern hemisphere (if you’re in the southern hemisphere, please reverse everything), so if the opportunity is there, go for it! If a south-facing orientation is not possible, there is no need to give up on your solar goals. Alternative orientations and placements can still offer considerable generation and utility bill savings. Find out what’s possible with a free solar quote for your home!
The best news is that solar power system placement is not a guessing game. Our experts at IPS can generate precise solar quotes using the specifics of your home (or business), including roof orientation and roof capacity, to show how much energy you can expect from your system, year after year.
If you want a greener environment for your roofs, residential solar panels are definitely the one for you!
Solar Panels obtains direct energy from the Sun causing less pollution as it replaces fossil fuels. Putting up Solar Panels to your roof is a great way towards preventing climate change.
If you want to help change the world in your own little ways with a few costs that are worth a long time, consider a Solar Panel Installation now!
But before installing one, here are some Roof Requirements for Solar Panels you need to check:
Is Your Roof Ready To Support Solar Panels?
Do you know how old is your roof? When was the last time you had them repaired?
If your roof shows signs of cupping, lifting or other damages, make sure to have them repaired first before considering solar panels. You may inquire with our Roof Repair Services to know if your roof can already support the solar panels you need.
You may also check the warranty of your roof and the solar panel that you will get. If the warranty of your solar panel is about 10 years and the warranty of your roof is only about 5 years, you may want to consider finding a new roof to better support the solar panels needed to be installed.
Consider The Size Of Your Roof
Does your roof have enough space where the solar panels will be placed? An average size for a good space of the roof would be 400-600 square feet.
Usually, each solar panel takes about 18 square feet. The ideal roof for solar panels should be 30-40 degrees with a slanted style rather than a flat one.
Slanted roofs are the best option for solar panels but having flat roofs is just as fair. Ask a professional Solar Panel Installation on what works best for your roof!
Consider The Type Of Your Roof
Is your roof made out of shingles, clay, or slate? Make sure to inspect your roofs first before installing a solar panel.
Solar panels work best with shingles as they are the most popular and easiest type of roof that a solar panel can be attached to. Clay or slate roofs tend to break that’s why it is not advisable for solar panels to be put onto.
You really need to be extra careful when you have a clay or slate roof. Inquire for the help of a roof expert if you want to get your roof check for it to be compatible for solar panel installation.
Know Which Direction Your Roof Is Facing
If you want to get the quality amount of sunlight, you need to know where your roof is facing. You need to determine where to put the solar panels to get the best source of sunlight and have good placement for it.
Most professionals say that your roof should be facing the South with 180-195 degrees orientation to receive the most amount of sunlight for your panels. Learn more about how solar panels work to better understand its benefits.
Check If Your Roof Has A Clear Surrounding
Solar panels need to be exposed to the sun for a long time to recharge the energy that it has given off the past hours. It should get a continuous amount of sunlight for about 6 hours and more.
Obstructions such as chimneys, dormers, shadows from the trees, buildings, or neighbors whose house is taller than yours should be limited. If your solar panel does not have a clear path to get the right amount of sunlight, chances are the production of electricity is reduced.
Let your place get checked by a professional roof installation service. Know when is the best time to put up your solar panels and know if your roof is ready for a big change!
Determine The Strength Of Your Roof
Installing solar panels on your roof would mean increasing the weight that it should hold. If your roof is not sturdy enough to carry the weight of the solar panel that will be installed, chances are, it will collapse.
This will be dangerous for your family and it will cost you more expenses for roof and solar panel repairs. Not to mention the cost of an installation service for both.
If you don’t want to experience this painstaking situation to happen, have a professional roofing service to evaluate the needs of your roof before a solar panel installation.
Prepare Your Budget
Making the switch to clean and renewable energy takes a lot of money. A solar installation will cost you an average between 15,000 – 29,000.
You will be needing a big amount of money if you want to have a green alternative for your energy sources. It is a big investment but it will also help you reduce costs for a long time when you find the right solar panel installation services.
Installing solar panels would mean a perfect renewable energy source which helps improve the environment and public health. Make the right choices now and get bigger savings tomorrow!
If you want to more about solar panels roof requirements, hire the best solar panel installation services and call Hollister Roofing at (831)-636-0188 today!
Will Solar Panels Work On An East-Facing Roof?
It is well-known that a south-facing roof is the best orientation for rooftop solar panels. But in some cases, that may not be an option. If your home is surrounded by trees or if the south-side of your home is heavily shaded, you may need to place your solar panels on a different area of the roof.
Will solar panels work on an east-facing roof? This post will explore the best alternatives to south-facing solar panels.
How do solar panels work?
Solar cells are the building blocks of solar panels. These cells take in solar energy and transform it into electricity. Each cell has a semiconductor material-filled space between a pair of electrodes on either side that allows this transformation.
When sunlight strikes this substance, some energy packets of light dislodge electrons from their atoms, enabling the cell to produce an electric current. So, for a solar panel to work, all it needs is exposure to sunlight.
Which is the best direction to place solar panels?
Solar panels facing south in the Northern Hemisphere will generate the most significant electricity. The United States is located in the northern hemisphere, meaning the best option for residents is to place solar panels facing south.
The sun often rises and sets above the equator throughout the year. If you are located north of the Equator, you can receive the most sunshine by facing south toward the Equator. Every day of the year, the sun crosses the southern half of the sky north of the Tropic of Cancer. The entire American mainland is in this region.
South-facing solar panels will always face the sun because the country is orientated south. However, not all homes in America have a south-facing roof. What happens if this is the case for your house?
What to do when south is not an option?
If you cannot have the ideal south-facing roof for your panel, that doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the green energy from using solar. Here are a few options you can consider:
- You are installing extra solar panels on your roof for more electricity production.
- If you have enough space, you are installing a ground-mounted solar energy system in your garden.
- You are using solar panel tracking systems if your budget allows.
- Installing your solar panels on an east-facing roof
How effective are solar panels on east-facing roofs?
Using an east-facing roof is an excellent alternative when mounting solar panels facing south is impossible. It is the second-best orientation, significantly more effective than west or north. East-facing panels can create only 20% less of what a south-facing system would generate in a region with ideal solar conditions.
Pros of an East-facing Roof
- During the winter, sunlight reaches east-facing roofs all day, from early morning to late afternoon.
- It produces 80 percent of what a south-facing roof would produce, which is relatively high, despite its lower efficiency.
Cons of an East-facing Roof
- Energy production is lower due to morning shadowing from trees and structures.
- Less sunshine is available in summer when it’s needed most.
Join the Solar Revolution
The answer is yes. Solar panels work on an east-facing roof and any other direction. The only difference is the length of sunshine exposure and efficiency. So direction should not keep you from getting your solar panel.
Are you ready to start your green energy journey? Solar optimum is here for you. We have the experience and the skills to install solar for you. Don’t stress about which side will work best. We will guide you through the entire process to help you get the best out of your solar systems.
Contact us today to get started on green energy!