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Thread: solar pannel orientation question

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    solar pannel orientation question

    I'm getting ready to install my solar pannels. The only real good option I have is to face them north/northeast at a 30 deg or so angle. The area does get good sun all day. I've heard that north facing is the least desirable. However, I live in the upper midwest where swimming season is only June-Sept and I've also seen that north facing is OK for March - October. Any truth to this? I appreciate any help!

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    Re: solar pannel orientation question

    I agree that north facing is not optimal, but if it's your only option and you live a ways north, it might still be worth the investment.
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    Re: solar pannel orientation question

    If you're putting them on the ground they would be better when laid flat than angling northwards.
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    linen's Avatar
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    Re: solar pannel orientation question

    I am not sure how you could be getting much sun on the face of the panels facing north and northwest for very long during the day. I am not sure that location is worth putting them up. Do you have no other options, like putting them on a rack on the ground?
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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: solar pannel orientation question

    What is the angle of the north facing roof slope? If it is very shallow you may get away with it, but will have a performance hit.
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    Re: solar pannel orientation question

    Where I live, the sun is north of us most of the day during the middle of the summer, and the north facing roof of my pool house actually has a better solar angle than the south side. Just put a plumbed stick in the ground and watch the shadow during the day to see where the sun is for you. This is because the sun follows an apparent circular path and because of the difference between magnetic and true north.

    The north side is bad both early and late in the season because the sun is further south, but right in the middle of the swimming season it is fine. Many of the recommendations you see on the web for solar are based on warm climates where swimming is possible for much more of the year than northern latitudes.
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: solar pannel orientation question

    If you look here, you can see the orientation of the sun throughout the year:
    http://pveducation.org/pvcdrom/properti ... calculator

    I agree that any sun exposure will help, usually you just will need more sqft of panels if the angle is not ideal. And the idea of watching the shadows is a good one.

    @JohnT, I was curious and put in SW Indiana and in July is shows that the sun is indeed in the South from 9-5 ... granted it is "mostly" overhead. I figure being as far South as I am, that I had more liklihood of a northern exposure than you ... and in the middle of June, the Sun here is actually only in the S between 10-4
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    Re: solar pannel orientation question

    Thanks for the info. What I think I may do is to put them on a shallow north angle but make the rack hinged at the top with a prop system so that I can stand it up to lay flat to get some more of that late afternoon sun. I actually get pretty good sun right there...but i'm sure later in the summer it will need to be more southerly.

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: solar pannel orientation question

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle
    If you look here, you can see the orientation of the sun throughout the year:
    http://pveducation.org/pvcdrom/properti ... calculator

    I agree that any sun exposure will help, usually you just will need more sqft of panels if the angle is not ideal. And the idea of watching the shadows is a good one.

    @JohnT, I was curious and put in SW Indiana and in July is shows that the sun is indeed in the South from 9-5 ... granted it is "mostly" overhead. I figure being as far South as I am, that I had more liklihood of a northern exposure than you ... and in the middle of June, the Sun here is actually only in the S between 10-4
    Yeah, it is south a hair, but the north roof has a clearer shot from the east, giving it a better "view" of the sun. Bottom line is I don't think north or south roof makes a significant difference in the middle of the swimming season, but it makes a substantial difference at the beginning and end.
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    Re: solar pannel orientation question

    Solar expert here. If you're using the pool summer only then the sun is very high and north facing is OK. If you're using a cover then solar won't help as much. An uncovered pool needs heat even in mid summer. One poster suggests flat on the ground but beware. Rigid polypropylene grid style collectors are fragile, you can't walk on them, you have to strap them down and allow them to move around with temperature change and if the air temp ever drops to 42F they better be completely empty. Yes solar panels freeze instantly at 42F. They are radiating heat to the night sky. We've monitored roof sensors and can demonstrate solar panels freezing when air temp is 42F. Solar panels should be flexible in my opinion.

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