Many people ask the question, “Why do solar panels face south?”
A fundamental fact many people are aware of is that the sun rises in the east and sets toward the west.
This fact was further emphasized by the 1991 Disney film Beauty and the Beast when Céline Dion and Peabo Bryson sang the lines, “Certain as the sun/Rising in the east.”
As fun and simple as that fact sounds, that’s not 100 percent true.
But why is this fact so important, especially when it comes to installing solar panels for your home or business?
People, especially homeowners who are keen on saving, are quick to think twice when it comes to solar panels.
Isn’t the point of having solar power is to make your life easier and cheaper?
Why can’t you just buy one outright from your nearest big box store, plop it down anywhere, and call it a day?
If research is to be believed, there’s a lot more than just letting the solar panels stay under the sun.
In this article, let’s look into and answer the question:
“Why do solar panels face south?”
Additionally, we will also look into other important notes when it comes to buying solar panels.
1. Why Is Direction So Important?
To answer this vital question, let’s take a look at a question posted in Quora that recently got popular.
Michael Nickerson explains:
“The sun moves in the sky from east to west each day, but it isn’t straight overhead unless you’re on the equator.
It has a southern offset, especially in the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky.”
As stated above, the sun doesn’t travel in a straight line as the day progresses, as one would assume.
To better visualize this, there are many time-lapse videos available online where the sun arches as it moves across the land.
In those videos, we can clearly see that the sun moves at a slight arch.
This explains why solar panels need to face southwards.
More so when the winter solstice is upon us.
In that article, there were at least five more people supporting Michael’s answer in terms of the direction for the solar panels.
2. Does The Angles Of The Solar Panels Matter?
However, as important as the direction of the panel is, that isn’t the only factor.
We also have to consider the angle!
Yes, that’s right.
There is some math involved when it comes to solar panel installation.
This article from Energy Education explains that:
“The angle that a solar panel should be set at to produce the most energy in a given year is determined by the geographical latitude.”
Sarajana Amin and the other authors of the article explained how to maximize your panels .
They have also dictated several examples of how one could calculate the angle needed to tilt their panels.
This is also important as it can help prevent soiling from your hardware (more on this later.)
However, if math isn’t your strong suit, the solar panel technicians may install them for you with no hassle on your part.
Some of them may charge an installation fee.
But, personally, I don’t mind paying a few extra bucks for convenience.
3. Why Should I Use Solar Power?
When it comes to alternative means of electricity consumption, many people are quick to shun solar power.
They often correlate this method to science fiction novels and the need for a mental capacity of a NASA engineer.
As intimidating as it sounds, there isn’t much to worry about solar technology.
There are many benefits of switching to solar power energy.
In fact, Solar Power Nerd’s article 10 Reasons To Choose Solar Energy & The Benefits is a good read.
It tells us why we should use solar power and how we can benefit from this new technology.
Everyone has this own reasons for using solar power.
For me, I would like to reduce my carbon footprint and save a few bucks each month.
Related: Reasons To Choose Solar Energy
4. How Much Does It Cost?
It’s no secret that solar panels aren’t dirt cheap, and it’s the main reason why people never really buy them the first chance they get.
The intimidation is also understandable as several companies offer personal or home-use solar panels for as much as $25,000 a set.
It’s expensive; however, I’d like to think that if you can afford to buy the new iPhone, luxury brand clothes, and trendy food, then it’s safe to assume that you can make a little sacrifice to make your life more comfortable in the future.
Additionally, spending that much money on an appliance that will save you money is a good investment.
If you’re serious or would like some substantial numbers, Solar Power Authority has a useful online calculator that allows you to calculate the cost by inputting your recent electric bill last month, kWh per day, and other data to make an educated guess.
5. Are There Different Types Of Solar Panels?
There are at least three main types of solar panels.
They’re monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, and thin-film.
These various types of panels have different appearances, price points, uses, as well as their advantages and disadvantages.
Monocrystalline silicon is created from a single and pure crystal of silicon.
The pureness of the material is the reason why monocrystalline silicon performs highly in terms of efficiency.
It also doesn’t hurt that the overall look of monocrystalline silicon is aesthetically pleasing in terms of looks.
However, monocrystalline silicon is rather costly.
Polycrystalline silicon is similar to monocrystalline silicon, but the main difference is the material and how it was crafted.
You get fragmented shards of silicon crystals and melt them into one big sheet.
This method allows polycrystalline silicon solar panels to be affordable, but the performance is lesser compared to monocrystalline silicon.
Thin-film is made from various materials, the common types being cadmium telluride (CdTe), amorphous silicon (a-Si), and Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS).
These three types of Regardless of the type, thin-film panels are lightweight, portable, flexible, and aesthetically pleasing.
But like polycrystalline silicon, thin-film does not perform better than the far superior monocrystalline silicon.
Check out Energy Sage to find out more about the different types of solar panels.
It’s also worth recording that current technologies are developing a solar cell fabric that allows curtains, awnings, tents, and even our clothes can harness the power of the sun.
However, this technology is still in its infant stages and will need more research.
Related: What Is Solar Fabric And How Does It Work?
6. Can Anyone Use Solar Power Technology?
That’s both a yes and a no, and let me explain why.
According to current results, if you live in a sunny area like Arizona, where it’s an average of 193 bright sunny days a year, it’s feasible to build a solar power unit if you want to harness the sun’s energy.
Arizonians can rejoice as their deadly heat is beneficial, for once.
But for people who live in states like Vermont or West Virginia, where it’s an average of 58 bright sunny days a year, that’s a different story.
It might be a bit difficult, but not at all impossible as long as there is a bit of sunshine.
The benefits may not be as much as the sunnier states, but as long as you’re using it as a supplementary source and not the primary source for electricity, then you’ll be just fine.
7. How Many Solar Panels Do I Need For My House?
Much like other appliances, you can’t just go to the nearest hardware store and buy solar panels (at least as far as I know.)
Another reason is that not a lot of solar power companies have a physical store as they deem it unnecessary.
Even if they do have a physical store, they won’t sell you their products right away.
The solar panel companies need to know your area, recent electricity bill, how much you’re paying per watts, the size of your home, and other vital questions.
Even if you go without their assistance, what if you go and buy a solar power unit that does not fit your needs?
What if your local governing area has strict laws regarding the setting up of solar panels?
There’s no need to worry about a consultation fee as a large majority of companies nowadays have free consultations.
If they do have a consultation fee, much like other businesses, they’re legally obligated to disclose that information otherwise legal action will be taken.
But if you prefer to read a more in-depth guide, check out Solar Power Nerd’s article on how many solar panels you need to run a small house to get you started.
Related: How Many Solar Panels Are Needed To Run A House
8. How Is Solar Energy Collected?
As we burn more fossil fuels each passing day, the idea of using the nearly infinite amount of energy produced by the sun was just a pipe dream for the unwashed masses.
However, that dream is now a reality that almost anyone can enjoy around the world.
Scientists and engineers have long tinkered to the point of perfection.
But like all good things, there will always be naysayers who think the devil of harnessing the sun’s natural energy.
I agree that this all seems like wizardry to me, but NW Wind & Solar aptly explains that:
“Solar panels, also known as modules, contain photovoltaic cells made from silicon that transform incoming sunlight into electricity rather than heat.
(“Photovoltaic” means electricity from light — photo = light, voltaic = electricity.)”
It’s a simple concept that modern technology has made into a reality.
As demonstrated above, scientists and engineers aren’t stopping this technological wonder in an attempt to advance humankind, and that isn’t always a bad thing.
9. What Are The Impacts Of Solar Power?
Owning a solar power unit is a wise decision in financial terms, but what about its impact on the environment?
The concern is understandable, but since the purpose of solar units is to lessen our carbon footprint, there really isn’t a concern.
But at a glance, we all know that solar energy has a good effect on the environment, but I’ll expound a few of its good qualities.
Solar energy generates through a physical process that does not release harmful substances; therefore, it makes an excellent renewable source.
Since solar panels made of silicone, people might think the materials are toxic, but silicone doesn’t necessarily harm the soil.
Maintenance and cleanliness isn’t also an issue as the cleaning is just pure, washing it with water with no soap.
Solar panel units are substantially similar to those large battery packs that store energy.
The only difference is that the battery packs are renewable and not disposable.
Resource: Why is Solar Power Good For The Environment?
10. Is Owning A Solar Power Unit Worth It?
As one could tell, the benefits definitely outweigh the risks.
The only two realistic and concerning downsides to owning a solar power unit is its one-time cost and the night or overcast weather.
If you’re worried about costs, many companies offer installments plans that fit your lifestyle, needs, and budget.
As for the weather and the evenings, there isn’t much we can do against Mother Nature.
Overcast weather isn’t necessarily a problem if you live in a sunny area.
Nothing is perfect, and the fact that there are only two disadvantages to solar energy is pretty good.
An article from Green Match expertly explains the benefits in its entirety.
To summarize, it always pays off when we do our research, especially concerning new technology.
When I first heard of solar panels, I found it unbelievable that these technologically advanced silicone tiles seem to magically convert sunlight to direct current electricity.
This article was initially written to answer the often Googled question of “why solar panels need to face southward,” but, much like life itself, it always takes us in a different course as we learn new things about solar panels.
As mentioned, these appliances are more than what meets the eye, and we should definitely keep our eyes peeled as we watch this new tech progresses.
I can guarantee there is nothing but good coming out of this.
If you have anything you’d like to add as to why do solar panels face south, let us know in the comments below!