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How to orient your solar panels?

The orientation of the solar panels of any solar photovoltaic installation is one of the main keys to achieve optimum performance. In this article we show you how to orient solar panels, what is the ideal inclination, the problem of shading and we offer an explanatory video on shading and its relationship with performance.


Where should a solar panel installation be installed?

Due to Spain's climate and the number of hours of sunshine per year, a photovoltaic solar installation is a very interesting option for generating electricity through solar radiation using photovoltaic solar panels and certain electrical equipment that converts this energy into electricity ready for consumption.


Any point of the peninsula is valid to install photovoltaic solar panels and produce electricity, both for own consumption and to inject into the grid, being the central and southern areas of the peninsula those that receive higher levels of average solar radiation per year and therefore higher performance would get from a solar installation.


Spain is divided into 5 zones according to the average solar radiation, however, to get an idea, for each kWp installed correctly we can obtain between 1300kWh/year to 2200kWh/year depending on whether we are in zone I or V.


What is the ideal orientation and inclination for a solar photovoltaic installation?

Before making a installing solar panels on van or rv, it is necessary to evaluate the type of surface where the installation is going to be carried out. A correct choice of location will have a positive or negative influence on the performance of the installation.


In Spain, the highest annual solar gain is achieved with an inclination of latitude of the site and a SOUTH orientation (Azimuth 180º). In many occasions this inclination and orientation are impossible to achieve, so it will be necessary to look for the closest possible approximation so that the loss of performance of the solar photovoltaic installation is, therefore, the least possible.


If what we want is to maximize some time of the year we would have to go to Latitude -15º for summer and Latitude +15º for winter as approximate values.


As shown in the image below, a solar photovoltaic installation oriented to the south and with the correct inclination would have a yield close to 100%. Changes in tilt and orientation could result in yield losses close to 50% in the worst case (East or West orientation and full vertical tilt).


Therefore, choosing the correct location that allows the best orientation and tilt will allow to obtain an optimal performance of the photovoltaic installation.


How does solar panel shading affect performance?

Sometimes, certain locations are chosen that seem ideal because they allow the installation to be carried out easily and to achieve the best orientation and inclination, but other factors that could reduce the performance of the installation are not taken into account.


One of them is the appearance of shadows at certain times of the day that are projected on the photovoltaic solar panels (usually trees, construction elements such as chimneys, or other elements such as lampposts, antennas, etc.).


It is commonly thought that a shadow on a photovoltaic module has little effect on the performance of the installation, which is wrong because it affects (and much) on the performance of the entire installation.


Let's imagine that we have a solar panel of 36 isolated cells. In this type of panel the cells are connected in series, so that when a part of the module is shaded (for example, a cell) the flow of current circulating through the cells of the solar panel is interrupted.


The panels incorporate diodes that minimize the effects of partial shading on certain areas of the panel, but in this case there would be hardly any benefit since it works at very small voltages.


Imagine the configuration of the solar panel as a water pipe in which all the cells are interconnected to each other forming a straight line. Partial shading on the panel would be equivalent to partially plugging the pipe, reducing the generating capacity of the panel and even preventing production as long as the shading continues.


In addition, in the case of installations where series of panels are assembled, the loss of collection will be more visible as the shading could affect the entire series.


In the best case, the by-pass diode would act and the loss would be reduced to 1/2 of the solar panel while maintaining the performance of the rest of the series. In the case of a module with 3 by-pass diodes it would be reduced to 1/3. As long as we have a system with mppt regulator.


Related Topics: How do I calculate how many solar panels I need for my house? Just use Renogy solar calculator tool.



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Williams Mark

Williams Mark

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