Solar panels, or photovoltaic (PV) modules, capture sunlight and convert it into power you can use, allowing you to use less electricity supplied by your utility company. If you’re considering installing solar panels at your home, first you need to take stock of your site to determine whether you have the space and access to sunlight to make it work. Consider a few important questions:
First: What’s your goal? How much do you want to decrease your electricity bill? That will determine how many PV modules you install, as well as their size. Then you’ll know how much space you’ll need to find for them. Remember that more panels can be added later.
Second: At your particular site, what’s the best orientation and tilt at which to install your PV modules? Sunlight varies throughout the day, and modules are mounted to maximize capture. The best orientation is true south. But, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, your modules can face up to 45 degrees east or west of true south without much hurting their performance. The best tilt is equal to latitude, which in the Sacramento area is about 38 degrees. Most roofs slant enough that panels can be mounted at an equal tilt with the roof.
Third: How can you place the panels so they get the maximum sunlight and minimum shade? Should your modules be mounted on your roof or the ground? Tree coverage and other sources of shade should be minimal. If you have leafy trees near your roof, ground mounting may be better. Keep in mind that foggy mornings and cloudy days will also hinder performance. If modules are mounted on the ground, they can change angle during the day to capture more sunlight.
A site analysis performed by a professional can get you started on your path toward solar power. The experts at All Year would be happy to help you determine whether solar power is right for you. Please contact us anytime.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about solar power and other HVAC topics, click here to download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
All Year services the Greater Sacramento area. To get started, check out our website.