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The Solar Buyer's Guide Series - Understanding Solar Layout

Many homes have complicated roof patterns, orientations, and angles. Each different face will provide different production, so you want to make sure that your panels are placed in optimal locations. After all, panels cost the same in a good spot or bad spot so it’s a no-brainer to make sure they are in ideal locations. A competent solar designer will account for all the factors described below, but it’s always a good idea to know for yourself so you can evaluate if a proposal is right for your home.

What is an ideal location?  

Direction

You try and keep it orientated as directly at the sun as you can. In Texas, this effectively means that your highest producing surfaces are south-facing (or south-east/south-west). Once those are filled, you can also get great production from east or west facing areas of your home.

North facing panels receive far less sunlight per square inch than those on other orientations of your home. For normal roof pitches, you would need to install 2 panels facing north to produce the same amount as 1 facing south. This ends up being harsh on your overall system productivity.  

If you see north-facing panels, that should be a sign that the system isn’t optimized.  

Shade

Shade greatly reduces production from solar. However, there’s good news. You get the lion’s share of your production from 9:30a.m. - 3:30p.m. Even if your house gets shade in the morning or evening hours, as long as the peak production window during the day is clear you will be fine.

Additionally, shade is far less problematic to an array than it was a few years ago. The use of SolarEdge Optimizers means that your array will lose significantly less power if you get partial shade. The optimizers will help make production gains and losses more granular, so that if one panel is shaded it does not impact the other panels wired to it.  Here is a handy video explaining the function of an optimizer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Bsq7umcffg

Keep an eye out for areas of your home with large trees or tall buildings to the south, or in extremely close east/west proximity.  These will reduce your production considerably.

Angle (aka Roof Pitch)

The angle against the horizon also impacts solar production.  We are fortunate in that the ideal angle range for our part of the world (between 20 and 40 degrees) is commonly found in homes in the Great Houston area.  

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Layout Summary

A well designed system accounts for (at a minimum) the direction and angle of panels, and the presence of shade.  It can also be a good idea to ensure that panels are installed in neat rows and columns - this won’t add production, but it will help the system look great on your home.

Want to know how much solar your roof can produce? It takes just a few seconds to fill out a request for a complimentary quote right here. Let us help you achieve your solar potential today and show you the Verisolar Difference!

Stay tuned for more coming from our solar buyer's guide series.