The positioning of your off-grid solar system is important, as it determines the amount of solar energy you can harvest. Understanding the basics of solar geometry will help you increase your solar energy yield by optimising the placement of your panels, so you can get the most benefit from your solar power system. Here are some simple tips to help you get it right!
Solar panels are very sensitive to shading. Shade significantly affects efficiency - even shading from a small branch or bird dropping will have an effect on the output of your entire module.
Panels are made up of multiple cells (usually 60) which are all connected in series. If a full cell is shaded, the voltage will drop to half of its un-shaded output, and if enough cells are covered - the module will not covert any energy at all!
Because all cells are connected in a series string, one partially shaded cell (50%) would bring down the output of the entire module by 50%. So it’s important to position your panel away from trees and avoid shades/shadows at all cost!
What angle should my solar panels be on?
Don’t underestimate the importance of solar panel angling - having your panels placed at the wrong angle will also affect your output.
Whether you’re choosing to install your system on a ground or roof mount, it’s best to think about the pitch of your roof and angle of your mount rails. As solar panels are most efficient when they are perpendicular to the sun’s ray, its recommended to have your panels tilt on a 28-30 degree angle to optimise efficiency. You also want to point your panels towards the equator to get the most sun - in New Zealand that means angling them due north. If you can't get them exactly north, try to keep them within 20 degrees of north, or you risk losing a lot of output.
Used, by off-gridders all around the world, one rule of thumb for panel tilt angle is: your latitude plus 15 degrees in winter or; minus 15 degrees in summer.
You can also use websites like NIWA to estimate solar energy that can be harvested at a given address.
Still have questions? Feel free to contact our friendly solar experts and we'll help you out. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 09 218 5533