Where should solar panels be placed?

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Solar panels are not cheap, so you want to get your money’s worth if you are going to live off of their energy. Living in the northern hemisphere requires us to THINK SOUTH— specifically Due South, especially in the winter time.

Figure that the strongest solar energy will be available between 9 AM and 3 PM. In the Ozark region, at noon at our latitude (36 degree north, give or take a degree), the sun’s lowest angle comes in at 30 degrees around Dec. 22, and stays in a southerly orientation. With the low winter angle, the chances of trees or a hillside shading the solar panels in your solar array are greater. Keep this in mind when planning their location, ‘cause you need all the sunshine you can get during the short winter days. If you are on a southern slope, then you may not have this problem, but a northern slope may get in the way of harvesting as much sunlight as possible.

The roof of your house may be the best location for your solar panels if shading is going to be a factor. The true south aim of your array can be off as much 20 degrees and your solar output will be decreased by only 6% (10 degrees off will result in a 2% loss).

Keeping your array on the ground makes for an easier installation, and that can affect the cost of your solar power installation. However, those solar panels will be providing energy for you for years to come, so it makes sense to put them where they will be able to do the most good.

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