How to Build a Solar Generator?

There are so many people out there looking for an adequate alternative source of energy due to the fact electricity became pretty expensive. Now, given that solar is the most affordable energy solution at the moment, besides the fact it has some great environmental results, it is not strange that more and more individuals are becoming interested in its implementation.

The solar generator is only one part you will need for this endeavor to be working, but it can be pretty affordable making it on your own. So here is how you can build a DIY solar generator and what are things you will need for this project.

Things You Need To Build A DIY Solar Generator

The reason people decide to create DIY portable solar generators is mostly because of the fact they can save up some money that way, but there are also some adventurous solar enthusiasts who see an opportunity to learn more about this technology through this endeavour. 

But since the first reason is the most common one we will say that the most important thing for starters is to have good information about the cost of each part you will need, in order for you to be able to calculate whether or not this is something that will pay off. Bear in mind that things can easily get out of control because it’s super easy to build an awesome generator if you are not counting each dollar you spend. On the other hand, you do need to invest in some good parts if you want this solar generator to last and to withstand different weather conditions and environments.

Parts and Components

Sturdy casing

When it comes to all the parts you will need for this project, firm and sturdy casing is in number one place. It needs to be very durable and high-quality made, waterproof and weather-resistant because it will hold all the important parts of the generator. The one we recommend is the Pelican 1620 Case that’s padded with foam and comes with an automatic pressure equalization valve that will keep the water out of the case. It’s pretty customizable, and it has stainless steel reinforced padlock protectors.

Solar Inverter

It is a well-known fact that solar panels can generate only DC power, which is inadequate for any sort of home appliance, so you need to have a solar inverter that has the ability to transform direct current into alternating (AC) current. This part is a bit expensive, you should know that from starters, but it’s necessary for the whole system to work. Even though the market is full of solar inverters, we recommend you think about investing in WZRELB 2000W Pure Sine Wave, given that it is high-quality made and suitable for both grid and backup battery power supply.

Solar panel

Every solar construction needs to be based on solar panels because generating power from the sun would simply not be possible without them. Solar panels have the ability to absorb the sunlight and transform it into electricity we can use for everyday needs. This element is exposed to all weather elements, which is why you need to consider its quality and durability. The solar panel that’s on top of our list is the Renogy 100W Eclipse that’s completely waterproof and compatible with all types of batteries. It has great performance levels in any sort of environment, and it comes with a protective casing.

Battery

We cannot forget that every solar generator needs a solar battery that will collect and store the energy produced by solar panels. This is the part where you will have to conduct serious research given that the market is overflowed with these solar elements, but especially because solar batteries come in all shapes and sizes. However, according to experts, you should definitely go with a deep-cycle lead-acid or lithium-ion battery for the purpose of creating a well-working solar generator. Lithium-ion is especially popular because it has high-efficiency, because it’s portable and lightweight, and because it usually has a pretty good and long warranty.

The charge controller

The whole solar installation would not be complete without a solar charge controller. It is a small compact device that will take care of your battery and its longevity by making sure it doesn’t overcharge every time the sun is high in the sky. It will regulate the current levels and voltage that are travelling to the battery from solar panels. Since we are here talking about building a solar generator, it would be best to purchase a solar charge controller that has a moisture-tight coating.

Battery maintainer

Every DIY solar power generator also needs a battery maintainer. Now, you may be confused thinking this part is the same as the solar charge controller, but it’s not actually. A battery maintainer is another device that will keep your battery protected, but in this case, by supplying it with small amounts of electricity when needed – which is when the battery is completely inactive for a long period of time. It is a piece that will prolong its lifespan.

AC power inlet

AC power inlet is a connector, an exterior one you can find on the hard case. It is a small part most people would forget to think about, but a key one in order for the generator to work in the end. It would be best to choose the AC inlet that doesn’t need hand wiring or cable modifications and the one that comes with a long extension cord.

LED flood light

If you have room in your budget, you could buy a LED flood light in order to install it on your solar generator. That way, you can be sure you will have the source of light whenever you are somewhere off the grid, like in a camp, in a shed, on a boat, etc. Also, it will be a great addition to your home in case of a power outage or some other emergency situation.

12V DC Meter

And the last piece of equipment you need in order to make your solar generator a complete masterpiece is a 12V DC meter. We are talking about a device that’s in the form of a display that has the ability to show you what’s the status of your generator – how much power it has stored, so you can know whether or not you can count on it in specific situations. This part is quite an affordable one, and it is a great addition, so don’t miss purchasing it.

Tools

Every person who is wondering how to build a solar generator probably knows it is expected to have some tools at disposal. In this case, you will need some basic items like a utility knife, a wire stripper with a cutter, a drill with drill bits or grinding extensions, a hot glue gun, and a set of screwdrivers.

Step By Step Instructions

Okay, now that you know what all the parts you need to acquire are and what are the tools you will need during the process of building a solar generator, it is time for us to lead you through a step-by-step guide that will make it all much more understandable.

Step 1

In order to build your own solar generator, you need to start from scratch. And that means thinking about the logistics. Your solar generator needs to be fully functional and easy to operate. That’s why you need to think through every step you are going to make regarding installing all the components into the casing. 

For instance, you need to think about how you want your generator to be positioned when in use, and based on that to consider where to place all other parts. A DC meter is a device you should locate in an easy-to-read place, and outlets like chargers or plugs should be approachable and preferably next to each other. 

Also, you need to consider the size of your casing and establish whether or not everything will fit nicely in it. That means you will have to think through how each part will be mounted and to find a way for them not to interfere with each other. After all that, you can start drilling holes and inserting one part after another very carefully.

Step 2

Step 2 should be based on connecting all the electrical components. So after positioning things like the DC meter and other outlets, you should install the battery into the casing. Then you will have to connect battery terminals with a DC meter using only insulated wires. And please don’t forget to first connect the negative and then positive wires.

The same process applies to other outlets. You should also use insulated wires to connect them to the battery. And it is important to check if all connections are properly secured and tight. After you do all that, the next move should be to connect the solar panel to the battery, and when it comes to this step, you can create a temporary or permanent connection of this kind.

In order to attach the solar panel to the battery permanently, all you need to do is to make the connection directly, from one part to another, like with all other outlets. But if you want that to be just temporary, you should use quick-connect plugs as a bypass solution. At the end of this process, your solar panel will be ready for usage.

Step 3

The next step is basically the last one, at least when it comes to building your solar generator, and it demands testing it, its functionality and its performance level. In order to do that, you will have to place your generator at the location where there’s a lot of sunshine and let it do its magic. 

Depending on how long are the power wires of your solar panel, sometimes you can place the panel out in the sun and keep the battery box in the shade to protect it from extreme weather elements.

At this point, your DC meter should start showing the voltage that your panel is drawing into the solar generator. If everything seems normal, you should leave it that way so that the generator and solar panel can do the work properly and to the maximum.

Step 4

If you subject your solar generator to thorough testing, and you establish that everything is fine with it, you can feel free to start using it for your needs – for powering up your appliances. It’s up to you now to decide whether or now you want to keep the solar panel in one place and only disconnect the case and bring it with you wherever you go, or you want to make it portable as well.

In the beginning, you should monitor your system and see how much time it takes for your devices to get fully charged on your solar generator and what’s its status afterwards, so you can understand better how long you can count on it. Also, make sure to know how long it takes for the battery to get recharged in the sun.

Why Build Your Own DIY Solar Generator

We made sure to explain to you how to make a solar generator in many details. But now, here are the reasons why you should do it or at least some of them:

Safety

It’s been proven that solar generators are much safer to use than those based on fossil fuels, no matter if you need them for indoor or outdoor reasons. Solar generators simply cannot leak or cause a fire.

Green energy

There is no doubt that solar generators are environment friendly and that they come with zero emissions. They simply won’t pollute the air and the entire environment like fossil fuel devices would for sure. 

No running cost

Okay, yes, you will have to invest a certain amount of money in order to create your solar generator, but it will all pay off pretty quickly, given that using and maintaining this device won’t cost a thing. Also, most of the components you are about to use for your solar generator come with more than 20 years warranty.

Easy to repair

As you can see, it’s not that hard to build a solar generator on your own. It just needs a bit of time and quality research. The same is with maintaining and repairing it. Unlike generators that work on fossil fuels, these mechanisms don’t have such a complex structure.

Affordability

The fact is – building your own solar generator will cost you much less than buying one in a store. The secret lies in buying each component separately and knowing how to connect them. According to some experts, you can save up a lot of money this way.

Accomplishment

And in the end, let’s not forget about the feeling of pride and accomplishment when you finish working on your solar generator and see it running smoothly. It’s simply priceless, and it can allow you to spend some quality time with other members of your family. 

FAQ

Can a solar generator power up the entire house?

Solar generators aren’t designed for the purpose of supplying the entire house with enough power. So no, they won’t be able to provide enough electricity for all household needs. The reason is simple – they don’t have enough wattage capacity for that. Solar generators are ideal for your boats, RVs, for some emergency situations or camping needs.

How to determine what size of solar generator do I need?

The answer to this is pretty simple – you need to establish what are your power needs, for starters. The simplest way to do that is to do the calculation based on all power ratings of appliances and tools you use the most. You should take into consideration only those you want to charge with a solar generator. 

What is the lifespan of solar generators?

If you are wondering for how long you will be able to count on your solar generator, you should know that most of them last for about 20 to 30 years. That means your investment is pretty much safe and that it will pay off for sure.

What can solar generator power?

There is a huge list of devices, tools and appliances that can be charged by a solar generator. We are talking about all the regular electronic devices we use every day like a smartphone, television, laptop, but also lights and most smaller applications. But know that you shouldn’t try to use them on bigger items like your refrigerator, washing machine, etc.

Conclusion

If you are a solar enthusiast, you will most likely appreciate this article and maybe feel encouraged by it to dive into this process and maybe do your first DIY solar project. Sure, you can always take your credit card, visit some online sites or regular stores and purchase a ready-build solar generator, but if you have at least a little sense for adventure, you will get the components and tools you need and slowly build one by yourself. The truth is that it’s not that hard, you will just have to be patient and to believe in yourself.

How to Get Cheap Solar Power in Your Home?

Going fully solar is a great idea, but the fact is this technology is still out of the budget reach for so many people, and it can be really demoralizing knowing you need more than ten thousand dollars in order to make your entire home solar. But that’s not the reason to give up on this significant environmental endeavour.

There are ways you can implement cheap solar elements that could help you save up on electricity and rely on low-cost solar power.

Here are the four most affordable solar solutions.

Outdoor lights

One of the easiest ways to get cheap solar power is via solar outdoor lights. As you probably know, there are so many different, both portable and stationary lights that work solely on the power of the sun, and you can get them for pretty much a low amount of money.

Most of these lights are very simple in their design, and regarding their setup, so you will be able to install them on your own, without the help of professionals. The only important thing is to make sure the solar power has direct exposure to the sun throughout the day.

There are solar path and walkway lights, garden and patio lights, garage and porch lights, etc. And most of them cost somewhere between 20 and 50 dollars.

Device chargers

If you are in search of affordable solar power, you should definitely think about investing in solar chargers. If we are being honest, our lives are pretty much based on our phones and other portable devices like tablets, and they all need daily charging.

So why not provide them with the power by using the sunlight and its benefits through solar device chargers. The market is overflowed with different types of solar chargers, you just need to choose the right one for you, and they will provide you with enough electricity all the time if you let them generate power during the daytime hours.

The truth is, they are a bit slower than regular wall outlets, but they will save you a lot of money looking long-term. Just don’t forget to check how many devices your solar bank can charge at the same time.

Kitchen appliances

Most people don’t know this, but you can power up a lot of your regular kitchen appliances with solar power, it’s not reserved solely for your smart devices.

We are talking about allowing your foster, coffee maker, sandwich maker, instant pot, and slow cooker to work properly without plugging them into a wall outlet. Okay, given that they are not big electricity spenders, your electricity savings won’t be huge, and they won’t make a big difference in terms of your budget, but you will go green this way and make a huge contribution to the environment.

Another benefit is that you will be able to use your kitchen normally, even if there’s a blackout. What you need in order to make this happen is a 25-watt bank, as well as an inverter that will convert DC to AC.

These devices are based on affordable solar panels, so they don’t cost much, and they are super practical.

Water heaters

Solar water heaters are not cheap, you should know that. Some regular kits cost between $250 and $500, which is not an insignificant sum, but they sure will pay themselves off very quickly given that the average power consumption on water heaters is around $400.

So yes, you will have to invest some money immediately, but according to people who did this, it was one of the best decisions in their lives. You should know that there are several different types of solar water heaters and that you will have to consult with some experts in order to conclude which one is the best one for you.

But the way they all work is simple – they will use the generated sun power to heat the water during the daytime, and then they will store it and keep it warm for later when the water is needed. We have flat-plate collector heaters that are based on heat-absorbing plates and evacuated tube collectors that are more reliable and more productive but more expensive as well.

Conclusion

As you can see, you don’t have to go for all or nothing, there are ways for you to start your solar journey with small but significant steps and to achieve some great results by investing a low amount of money.

This is probably the better way to go solar because it will allow you to see if that sort of sustainable lifestyle suits you, so it will be easier for you to decide later whether or not you are going to take the whole experience further and invest in additional solar systems.

Is Tesla Powerwall the Best Solar Battery on the Market?

There’s no doubt that purchasing a solar battery you can connect to solar panels is a great investment – it is an essential part of solar equipment. Solar storage is actually becoming an absolute must in solar home systems because of its unprecedented value. But the fact is the solar market is offering us so many options regarding this subject, and it can be quite hard to decide which solar battery is the best.

Now, the newest addition in the solar battery category called Tesla Powerwall brought a great buzz and made us wonder if that’s the device we wanna buy for our solar needs. The things are pretty clear here – Tesla battery is a great solution given it’s high-quality made with some fantastic features, and it’s pretty affordable. But let’s take a closer look at it and see if this claim is the right one.

Main Tesla solar battery features

What most people who are considering buying a Tesla home battery want to know is what they are going to get if they decide to invest in this device.

Well, according to experts, Tesla Powerwall has some of the best specifications, including the Gateway management system that will allow you solar monitoring. Also, it is built with one of the highest capacity ratings, at least when it comes to residential solar batteries.

It can keep up to 14 kWh of electricity at any moment, which is enough to support around half of your daily energy needs, on the average.

The Tesla battery pack has a 5 kW power output, which means it can support electrical outlets and lights, as well as small appliances, but when it comes to larger electricity consumers, this battery won’t be able to do the work on its own.

The thing that makes this Powerwall so popular is the fact it comes with three modes – solar self-consumption, time-based control, and backup power. Thanks to that, you will be able to dictate when and how you want to store or release energy cumulated inside the battery.

For example, if you set the firs mentioned mode, you can store the solar energy for later, for the night hours or situations when there’s a blackout.

Tesla Powerwall cost

At this very moment, Tesla batteries can be bought and installed for around $11.000. The battery itself is $7.000, but the Gateway management system and installation are additional $4.000. But bear in mind that the cost of installation and Gateway will remain the same even if you decide to install more than one battery pack.

Tesla Powerwall can be found at Tesla official website, or you can purchase it from Tesla installer. Now, if you believe $11.000 is too much, you should check what solar battery incentives are available. That way, you could lower the cost of this device significantly. We are talking about the federal tax credit that will take off 26% of the price, but also about some other rebates and incentives that are state and utility-oriented. For instance, in Vermont or California, you can cover almost the entire cost of a Tesla battery and its installation if you take the right steps.

Tesla Powerwall vs other solar batteries

As we previously mentioned, the market is full of many different solar batteries, especially now when a number of people who are willing to go solar are rising every day. Currently, the biggest competitors to Tesla Powerwall are new sonnenCore battery and LG Chem RESU battery.  Here is a detailed analysis that will showcase all benefits and shortcomings of these devices.

Capacity and power rating

If you compare all three of them, you will see how Tesla has the biggest capacity – 14 KWh, while LG Chem supports only 9.3 kWh, and sonnenCore is on 10 kWh. Based only on that you can conclude your appliances will be powered for a longer period of time with a Tesla battery, than if you are to use the other two batteries.

When it comes to power rating, Tesla and LG Chem are the same – they have 5.0 kW continuous, and their peek is on 7.0 kW. SonnenCore, on the other hand, has a higher peak power of 8.6 kW, and a bit lower continuous power of 4.8 kW. That means Tesla and LG power up more appliances, but that sonnesCore is designed to better handle short spikes in power consumption.

Operating modes

Now, the fact is all of these batteries are built to store the electricity generated by the solar panels for later when we actually need to use it.

Since we are analyzing Tesla Powerwall, you should understand that self-consumption mode will make sure every surplus of energy generated during the day goes to the battery storage, so you can use it later on for powering up your home when the night comes and solar panels are no longer generating electricity.

On the other hand, the backup mode implies the battery will be stored with electricity either from solar panels or from the grid. This mode is set in a way to allow this power to be used only in case of a grid outage. The battery has the ability to detect blackouts and to start supplying home appliances with stored electricity almost immediately.

But the best thing about Tesla batteries is their time-of-use functionality that will dictate how the battery will be charged depending on the price of electricity, and based on time-of-use rates. In reality, it looks like this – when the price of electricity is low, your Tesla Powerwall will be charging from solar panels allowing you to power up your home with cheap energy from the grid.

And then when the price of electricity goes up, it will power up your lights and appliances, so you don’t have to spend so much on expensive energy from the grid. That way you will be able to save a lot of money on electricity looking long term.

Warranty

People who are familiar with solar industry trends say that the warranty Tesla Powerwall comes with is pretty standard. You will get a 10-year limited warranty on this lithium-ion battery that should be on its 70 percent capacity after a decade. Certainly, the operating mode you use the most will affect its lifespan. 

Now, even though all of these three batteries should last for ten years at least, Tesla’s warranty isn’t the best one. SonnenCore is a leading name in this matter given that it will work on 70 percent capacity either after ten years, or after it releases 58 MWh of electricity – depending on which condition will be fulfilled first. And Tesla Powerwall will be at the same 70 percent after releasing 37.8 MWh of electricity, which is significantly less.

Also, it seems like sonnenCore battery will last longer than the Tesla. It’s lithium iron phosphate-based, unlike the Powerwall which is a lithium nickel manganese cobalt battery, and according to experts, the first one is known to have a longer life span. Besides, sonnenCore battery is easier to recycle, and it’s less likely to catch fire because it doesn’t contain cobalt.

Price

And finally, we came to the price issue. Tesla may not have the best warranty in the market, but it sure is the most affordable solar battery, especially if you consider all the great features it comes with. The calculation implies that Tesla Powerwall cost around $592.59 per kWh of storage capacity.

The next in line is LG Chem whose price per kWh is $ 735.68, so if you decide to go with that device, you will be definitely paying more for the battery that has smaller capacity. And in third place, as the most expensive solution, comes a sonnenCore battery that cost around $950.00 per kWh.

Is Tesla Powerwall worth the investment?

We will be absolutely honest and fair when we say that Tesla Powerwall is the best energy storage you can currently find in the market. It is an ideal solution if you are looking to purchase a battery, you can connect to your home solar system. It has some great features and advanced technical specifications, while it’s being the most affordable product of this kind. You will be extremely pleased with how it works, and especially with its ability to shift between three modes.

Now, you should bear in mind that Tesla customer service isn’t something the company can be proud of, so the chances you will be waiting for installation for quite some time is pretty much certain. So if you are in a hurry to set it all up as soon as possible, this may be a problem. In California, for example, this is a huge issue, given that a great number of people are purchasing solar batteries due to great incentives and often blackouts.

But overall, once it’s installed and in work, you won’t have anything to complain about, that’s for sure. Its capacity is outstanding, continuous output quite decent, and the number of features it comes with cannot compare to any other solar battery.

History and Creation of Solar Panels

It’s indisputable that the invention of solar cells changed the course of history. With solar technology, we were given an alternative to fossil fuels and a chance to make up with our planet, to redeem ourselves for all the bad we did in the past. If you would like to know more about this fascinating story of progress and innovation, stay with us and get to know the real solar panels history.

History of solar energy

If you think about it, solar energy exists as long as the planet Earth. And people have always depended on it. In the early centuries everyday life was absolutely dictated by the sun and its movement. But the direct usage of solar power is tied to the time when people began using sun rays to start the fire for the purpose of cooking, with the help of magnifying glass. 

Then, in ancient times, there were sunrooms where the solar energy was captured because of its natural warmth. We are talking about rooms that were south-oriented and part of the Roman bathhouses. This concept is still quite popular among people who live in colder climates.

There’s even a legend according to which Greeks put the Roman wooden ship on fire only with the help of bronze shields on which they reflected the sun’s light. Now, even though that’s only a story, in the 1970s, an experiment was conducted by the Greek navy that proved this to be possible.

When were solar panels invented?

First, in 1839, Edmond Becquerel, the French physicist, was experimenting with a cell made of metal electrodes, and he discovered the photovoltaic effect  – when exposed to light, the cell produced more electricity. Then, in 1873, another physicist established that selenium could be a photoconductor.

And finally, in 1876, Richard Evans Day and William Grylls Adams connected these two dots and came to a conclusion that the photovoltaic principle applied on selenium, when exposed to light, can actually create electricity.

Around five decades after that, Charles Fritz, an American inventor, designed the first-ever selenium solar cell. So if you were wondering who created solar panels and who is considered to be the father of solar cells, Charles Fritz is the name. His invention was the precursor of solar panels we know and use today.

Further history of solar cells

When it comes to the world actually knowing about solar energy and its benefits, famous Albert Einstein played a huge role in that. In 1905 this scientist published a paper where he explained how light could create energy and what is a photoelectric effect. This paper of his made the world accept this new invention.

Then, again 50 years later, three scientists – Calvin Fuller, Daryl Chapin and Gerald Pearson, who all were working in Bell Labs, made a huge step forward by designing the silicon solar cell we use today in solar panels. The benefits were huge – silicon based cells were far more effective and very available as a natural resource.

After that, the ball continued to roll. During the 1960s, solar cells were used for creating some parts of spacecraft, like for the satellite Vanguard I, Sputnik 3, Vanguard II, and Explorer III. But just a few years later, more precisely in 1964, NASA launched a satellite that was completely based on an array of 470-watt photovoltaic solar panels.

Viable energy alternative

During the 1970s, when there was an oil shortage and great economic crisis in the US, people became aware they needed to continue with innovations and make themselves again independent from foreign energy resources.

At that time, President Carter decided to install solar panels on the White House, which was a clear statement of support towards clean energy. That was the breaking point that made the citizens of the US interested in solar technology in general and in solar panels for personal usage.

But, in the beginning, during several decades even, the cost of solar panels was extremely high, so not many people were able to afford this technology. With time, the price started to drop down, and the efficiency of new and improved solar systems was becoming better and better. So solar panels transformed into a realistic possibility for everyday people and the biggest change in that direction happened in the last several years.

Price and efficiency of solar panels

As we mentioned, the price and efficiency of solar panels changed dramatically over the years. At the moment when it all started, so in the time when Becquerel experimented with metal cells, solar panels were maybe 1 percent efficient. And the cost of electricity was around $300 per watt. At that moment, the price of electricity based on coal, for instance, was $3 per watt.

When the Bell Lab scientist discovered silicon solar cells, the solar panel efficiency climbed to 4 percent at first and then went to 11 percent in a short period of time. That was enough for some electronic devices to be charged with power generated from the sun, which was a huge step.

Given that the efficiency level of solar cells grew over time, it’s no surprise solar panels ended up being a part of the space program. That drastically increased their production and reduced the price of solar energy to $100 per watt. Later on, during the 1970s, one research established how to produce less expensive solar cells, and that lead to power generated from the sun cost only $20 per watt.

At this very moment, the price of this clean and renewable energy is the lowest ever – around $0.5 per watt, and the efficiency of solar panels for home usage is around 17 percent. You may not find that to sound so great, but believe us, it is, and it made such a huge difference in so many ways.

Conclusion

We have explained to you now the very history of solar technology. We made sure you understand that the usage of the sun’s power is not something we recently discovered since people relied on the sun rays from the beginning of time. But it is clear that the modern history of solar panels began many years later and that it has experienced full development in the last couple of decades.

Thanks to so many scientists and engineers, we are now able to actually reduce our electricity bills and to contribute to saving our planet from fossil fuels. The fact is, the cost of solar panels dropped by around 10 percent each year, starting from 19802. And experts believe this is not the end of that trend. They claim solar technology will be available to every single person in the world in the near future.

Pool Solar System Guide: Learn About Solar Pool Heating

During the hottest summer days, your pool water will be warm enough for you to have a nice and pleasant swim, but if you would like to enjoy your pool from early spring to late fall, or even during the winter months, you will have to find a way to heat your pool. The ideal solution is to install swimming pools solar heaters that will not only make your pool water well warmed, but that will help you save a lot of money on electricity bills.

We are talking about solar systems that are pretty cheap, so even if you are on a budget, you will be able to afford one. According to some research, they will be a great investment because, among all other reasons, these systems can last much longer than regular gas or electric pool heating installations.  

Solar pool heating can be used for both in-ground and above-ground pools, and it can cover the needs of any pool size. They are very versatile in their design and the way they work. Now, we are going to present you with everything you need to know about this subject in order to understand better what you can expect from solar pool heating systems.

How does a pool solar system work?

When properly set and installed, the heating pool system will first pump the water out of the pool using a filter, after which the thermal collector will heat it up and send it back to the pool. The heat is provided by solar panels that will absorb and transform solar power into usable electricity. Additional parts of this system, besides the collector, are the flow control valve, check valve, and temperature sensor.

Usually, these systems are capable of automatically detecting the temperature of the water and sending it straight to the solar collector to heat it up. And with the help of a flow control valve, the water will be directed from the solar collector back to the pool.

What you should know is that there are solar pool heating systems that can work year-round, even in a colder climate and during the winter months. The oversized solar collector will keep your pool water warm no matter what in those situations. The best part is you can use a solar system of this kind together with traditional gas or electric pool heating installation, so you won’t have to be worried if there’s not enough sun in the sky during the entire year.

Solar thermal collector

You understood by now that there is no solar heating system without a thermal collector. It’s the key part that uses solar power provided by solar panels to warm the water before bringing it back into the pool. There are two main types of thermal collectors – glazed and unglazed.

Glazed thermal collectors usually come with quite a complex design that includes iron-tempered glass covering, aluminum plate, and copper tubing. They are also known as flat-plate solar collectors, and they are pretty expensive. These collectors are very efficient when it comes to heating the water with the help of the sun’s power, and they won’t ask for much space. Glazed collectors are suitable for systems that will work during the entire year, even when the winter months come.

The unglazed solar collector is definitely more affordable and simpler in its design. It’s mostly made from high-quality rubber or heavy-duty plastic, and it’s UV treated for the purpose of having a prolonged lifespan. These solar collectors are not as efficient as glazed ones, but they will do their job correctly. They are an adequate solution for warmer climates where the temperature doesn’t go below zero degrees.

Solar collector size

According to the Department of Energy, solar collectors should be between 50% and 100% of the square footage size of the pool you are planning to use it on. That actually depends on how long you are planning to use your pool during the year and how warm the pool water you would like to have. Now, those people who would like to use their pools throughout the entire year should purchase a thermal collector that’s the size of the pool or even larger.

Solar pool system cost

If you are wondering what the pool heater cost is and how huge of an investment this will be, you should know that the price of a fully installed solar pool heating system is somewhere between $3000 and $4000. Now, the general estimate is that you will be able to pay off this investment in less than two years, after which you will be saving a lot on electricity bills, especially if you plan on heating the pool water through the entire year. If your appetites are even bigger, and you would like to go fully solar, you can additionally install a solar water pump as well, which will cost you an additional $1000 to $3000.  You can choose to use a submersible or a surface mounted water pump.

Way are solar pool heaters a good idea?

We already mentioned that with solar pool heaters you will be able to save a lot of money on electricity bills looking forward, but also that you will contribute to preserving nature and protecting the environment from the bad influence of fossil fuels. But those aren’t the only reasons why you should think about investing in this sort of system. Pool solar panels will provide a long lifespan to a solar heating system, and it’s most likely it will last longer than any regular electric or gas heating installation.

Conclusion

Using solar energy for making and keeping your pool water warm is nothing but smart. It is a great thing we are even able today to do such a thing, and for a very affordable price, if we are being honest, given that the benefits of a solar pool heating system are huge. Just imagine being able to swim in your pool during winter days and without having to spend hundreds of dollars on making the water feel pleasant.

We hope we helped you understand better why installing this heating system is our recommendation and how exactly it works, but before you purchase it and set it all up, make sure to consult with your installer to see what are his recommendations regarding the type of thermal collector and the size of the system.

What Equipment Do You Need for Setting Up a Solar System for Home?

mounting solar panels on roof

It’s pretty clear that solar systems are becoming more and more popular as time goes by and that there are more and more people willing to do their part regarding environmental preservation and reducing their own carbon footprint. Now, let’s not pretend that we all decided to go solar only because it was the right thing to do for our planet. The truth is, that’s only one reason, while the other lies in the fact we could save so much money on electricity bills if we were about to have a solar system installed upon our roof. But let’s be clear – there’s nothing wrong with that, on the contrary. 

According to statistics, during the previous year, 23 percent of growth has been detected when it comes to the number of residential solar systems being installed. And what’s been pretty obvious by now is that this number will be even higher at the end of 2020. The reason for that huge growth lies in the fact efficiency of solar systems has been drastically improved in the last few years, but also, the cost of solar panels has dropped significantly. So if you are interested in installing solar panels, here is what you need to know and have.

Solar panels for household

Usually, solar systems for home usage will be installed on the roof of your home, and they will convert the sunlight into the electricity you can use to power up your house appliances. Quite often, these solar panels systems are being called PV, as photovoltaic systems. 

If you choose your system wisely, and if we are talking about only high-quality solar installations, the roof-mounted solar construction will eliminate or reduce your home’s dependence on the local power grid, and therefore you will be able to save on electricity bills month after month.

We cannot deny that a home solar system is quite an investment, but the truth is it will most definitely pay off, and you will find yourself in a position to count on and use mostly clear and renewable energy that will prolong the lifespan of the planet we all live on.

Now, be aware that we have off-grid and on-grid solar power systems but that most solar systems for the home will remain connected to the grid. The off-grid solar installation is more appropriate for remote areas that have limited access to electricity in general.

Main components of the solar system

In order to understand how exactly the solar system works, you need to know what are its main components and how they work. We are referring to:

  • Solar panels
  • Solar racking
  • Solar inverters
  • Solar monitoring system
  • Solar storage

Solar panels

You cannot have a solar power system without solar panels. In other words, they are the main part of every solar installation, and when choosing which to buy, you should consider their efficiency rating, quality of the materials they are made of, warranty periods, their price and type.

Residential solar systems are usually based on one of these two types of solar panels – monocrystalline and polycrystalline. There are no huge differences between them, except the fact monocrystalline panels are a bit more expensive and slightly more effective.

Now, how many solar panels you will install and where you are going to place them depends on several factors, like what’s the climate like in the place you live in, do you have enough surface on your roof for solar installation, do you want to generate enough electricity for your entire household’s need or you would like just to cover one part, etc.

That’s something you should consult with a professional installer, but there’s also an option of using an online solar system size calculator. Also, be aware that if you have an extensive capacity solar system, you can probably send a surplus of electricity back to the grid in exchange for credits via net metering.

Solar racking

Even though it looks that way, solar panels aren’t actually attached directly to the roof. They stand on a solar ranking that can be constructed in different ways and in different angles, depending on what’s the desirable position of the panels regarding sun exposure. The racking is mounted on the roof, and solar panels are lying on top of it. This element needs to be built in a good quality manner and to be very durable and sturdy, so you can be sure your solar system won’t be endangered in case of bad weather.

Solar inverter

Solar panel systems cannot work without solar inverters. It is a device that has the ability to receive direct current (DC) solar panels generated and to transform it into alternating current (AC) our home appliances are working on. So without it, the power produced by the sun would be useless.

There are three types of inverters – micro inverters, centralized or string inverters, and power optimizers. Microinverters are pretty expensive, and solar systems based on these inverters need to have more than one – each solar panel is connected to one inverter. They will allow your system to work well even if some of the panels do not perform at their maximum at the moment.

The centralized inverters are more affordable, but they can fail to do their job properly, given there’s only one inverter on the whole solar system, regardless of the number of solar panels. And if there’s shading, the whole system could experience production loss. When it comes to power optimizers, they actually optimize the output of DC current, and they need to be installed in each solar panel. The system with power optimizers will need a centralized inverter as well.

Solar monitoring system

If you would like to be familiar with how your system is performing, how much electricity you were provided in the previous period, you should rely on the solar monitoring system. It will be able to show you how much electricity your solar installation was generating per day, per hour, or per year. Also, it will alarm you if there are any changes in the system.

Solar storage

When mentioning solar storage, we are actually talking about solar batteries. There are those that can store and save energy your solar system generated for later on, when you need it, or only overnight until the sun rises again and the system starts working again. They are a very important part of the solar installation because they will enable you to have a fully functional home even when the power is off or when the grid connection is not available. But also, they can keep the excess electricity before you are ready to send it back to the grid and use the net metering services.

The cost of a solar system

The overall cost of your specific solar power system will be determined by several factors, so we cannot speak about this subject in general. The fact is, solar panel systems are not cheap, but another fact is that there is a federal solar tax credit that will deduct 26 percent of the cost that installing a solar system brings from your federal taxes, as well as other solar incentives.

Regarding the calculations, you should know that the average payback period is usually six to seven years, depending on the size of the system, and that most solar panel manufacturers will give you a 25-year long warranty. That means there will be around 18 years where you won’t have to pay a dime for the electricity you are using, or that at least these expenses will be drastically reduced.

Solar installers

Who to trust with your solar system is always a huge question. Because not every installer is a good one, and because the overall performance, as well as the lifespan of the solar system, will depend on the way the system is set up. It can also affect the return on your investment. It is essential your installer is well experienced, licensed, and recommended by a significant number of people.

Conclusion

When you decide it is time for you to start thinking about your future solar system, and you begin to search for the best solar panels, know that three things are crucial in that matter – for them to be reliable, highly efficient and that they are covered with the warranty. The efficiency will show you how much electricity your system can generate per square foot.

The reliability depends on the quality of materials solar panels are made of and the technology they are based on. And finally, the warranty period will let you know for how long you can count on your solar system to provide electricity.

Top 10 Economic Benefits of Solar Energy

solar-power-station-energy-from-natural

Going solar can be quite an expensive endeavor, that’s true, but there’s no slightest doubt that it will be worth it. Not only will you save a lot of money on electricity bills in the future, but you will contribute to the most important environment-friendly movement’s goal, which is keeping our planet alive and in the best possible shape for all future generations we will leave behind. But for now, let’s focus on the most important economic benefits of solar energy usage.

Economic benefits

1. Lower utility bills

There are, let’s say, more traditional ways of saving on electricity than switching to solar, like turning off the lights more often, at least when you’re not in a room, and taking it down a notch with cooling and heating electricity-based systems, but those things can only go so far. If you decide to install solar panels on top of your roof, there’s no doubt that you will cut down your electricity expenses dramatically. Of course, how much exactly you will save depends on many factors – how many solar panels you have, whether you completely go off the grid or not, what you use the solar system for, etc. We talked about the average cost of utilities in US households, so you know that each state has different utility costs. Those people who live in places with high electricity rates will find transiting to solar extremely beneficial.

2. Net Energy Metering

Having a solar system installed can help you not only cut down on electricity usage but earn money as well. If you have a solar system that’s powerful enough to cover all of the needs of your household and still generate more energy, you can send it back to the grid and sell that surplus to the local electric company. But bear in mind that not every state has a NEM system and that these policies can vary a lot from state to state.

3. TOU rates

You are probably familiar with TOU (time-of-use) rates and how much they can increase your monthly electric bills. TOU rates are defined by your local utility, and they vary a lot depending on the time of the day. That means that electricity spent in peak hours, when demand for it is the biggest, will be the most expensive, while it will be the least expensive during off-peak hours. Now, if you have a solar system with a battery attached, you will be able to use your home appliances whenever you want for the same cost because you won’t be blackmailed this way by the electrical companies.

4. Federal and state incentives

If you wonder what are the economic impacts of solar energy, you should know that you can get both federal and state incentives that will make it easier for you to buy and install a solar system, but also to cover the investment in a shorter time frame. That leads to being able to save a lot of money on electrical bills much faster than you anticipated. At this very moment, every person who decides to purchase the solar system can deduct the cost of it by 30% on the basis of federal income taxes. Also, many states and local governments have property and sales tax exemptions that can be quite helpful as well.

5. Solar home value

According to many analyses, investing in the solar system is a great decision because it will increase the value of your home significantly, among other things. So if you think you may want to sell your place sometime in the future, it will be a good idea to buy and set up solar panels. This move can increase the value of your property by $20.000 or even more. As you can see, the impact of solar power on economics is very diverse and extremely effective.

aerial-view-private-houses-with-solar-panels-roofs

6. Sunlight is free

If you have a heating system based on electricity, your expenses may vary a lot with time. That’s because the price of electricity may go up at any moment. But if counting on the sun’s energy, you will always be in a safe zone since the sunlight cost is zero, and because it is, and always will be there. It is a renewable resource, unlike natural gas or fuel. These energy sources are expensive, and they are contaminating our planet constantly.

Environmental benefits

Previously, we talked about the economic impact of solar energy, but let’s not forget that the money issue isn’t at the core of the solar concept. It’s all about preserving the environment actually and making sure we are not destroying the planet we were given to live on. So here are several more important benefits than those economic ones.

1. Greenhouse effect

According to EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), cars and other motor vehicles dramatically contribute to the creation of greenhouse gasses, which affects our environment tremendously. And the greenhouse effect is what causes global warming.

2. Air pollution

It may seem unreal, but the truth is that around 6.4 million people die each year from air pollution. The air we breathe is so contaminated that in some parts of the world, governments recommend their citizens not to leave their homes if it’s not necessary. Given that fossil fuels we use every day contribute to air pollution in great amounts, every person who decides to go solar will help our planet to recover and to become free of all the pollutants and toxins.

3. Social impact

It is a well-known fact that global warming in the past often leads to wildfires, hurricanes, some devastating floods, rising sea levels, and droughts. The consequences of these disasters lead to people facing the destruction of property and homelessness, increased food prices and, therefore hunger, as well as rising health care costs. Relying on renewable energy in these scenarios saved a lot of lives, and it provided a perspective of the future disengaged from the negative social impact caused by the usage of fossil fuels.

4. Job creation

The solar industry is growing each day, and it’s becoming stronger and more reliable. Since unemployment is one of the biggest problems of today’s society, we cannot forget to point out that this rising industry is providing jobs for so many people all around the world. Ten years ago, there were around 90.000 people hired to be part of the solar industry in the US, and in 2018. the number was 240.000

What are Solar Trackers? Are They Worth it in 2020?

Solar technology is constantly evolving, and companies who design solar panels are competing with each other to develop some new piece of equipment that will increase their efficiency and productivity. Solar trackers are one of these discoveries since they have the ability to make solar panels follow the sun’s path throughout the entire day so that they can provide better power output.

How solar trackers work?

Solar trackers are based on specific software and drivers that allow them to track and follow the sun’s location at any time. There are sensors that react to the light that comes from the sun and linked motors that follow the GPS coordinates of the sensor’s position. The system is very basic but extremely effective. Now, some solar tracking systems will rotate with the help of compressed liquid and gas that moves through driver channels because of the exposure to sunlight, while others will work based on small PV panels that can power their driving systems up.

Types of solar trackers

There are two main types of solar trackers – single-axis and dual-axis ones. So we are now going to see what the main differences between them are and which type is better and more effective.

Single-axis solar tracker

single axis solar trackerSingle-axis trackers use a single point to rotate, and they are moving by panel row or by section in unison. Also, they track the sun east to west, and up from recently, they became a standard part of utility-scale applications. One research showed that two years ago, around 70 percent of utility-scale applications used single-axis solar trackers. And the fact is the growth in their overall presence is outstanding because several years ago, they didn’t even exist as part of this utility-scale market or were used in a small percentage, but today they are an irreplaceable part of it.

If you compare single-axis with dual-axis solar trackers, you will see single ones will collect less energy per unit, but they are way easier to handle when it comes to operating and maintenance. Also, they need less space when being installed, and you can choose between centralized and decentralized single-axis tracker types. Those centralized are powered up with one motor only, and the driveline between rows will move the segments of panels. And decentralized trackers have one motor for every tracking row so they can move independently.

The whole idea that stands behind single-axis solar trackers is for them to work like Venetian blinds, or at least it was at the beginning, but today the technology is way more advanced, and there are plans to install some software into these solar trackers that could make solar rows substitute for row and horizon shading, adverse wind conditions, and diffuse light.

You should bear in mind that when the day is cloudy, and there are no direct sunbeams, but we receive diffuse light, solar panels don’t have to be turned directly to the sun because there’s no guarantee they will generate the energy best, so the tracker may move them to lay horizontally in order to catch that diffuse light better. So even in that case, trackers will be very useful.

dual axis tracking on rotating axis

Also, in case there are extreme wind conditions, solar trackers will move panel rows horizontally in order for them not to be damaged, and some advanced models have system-level monitors that will establish which rows are not affected by the wind so that they can continue tracking the sun rays.

These single-axis solar trackers usually are a bit problematic when it comes to them being installed on steep, undulating topographies, but newer models are making it a bit easier since the technology they work on is being optimized to work better in that type of region. Besides that, they are being adapted to withstand colder climates and extreme snow loads.

Dual-axis solar tracker

Solar panel tracking is probably better with dual-axis devices since they rotate on both Y and X axes allowing solar panels to track the sun directly. The Earth’s rotation that depends on the sun is not always the same, its arc varies from season to season. The dual-axis trackers can follow the sun’s path all the time, regardless of the lack of coexistence of its movement, which is why they are a better solution than single-axis devices. 

They will simply deliver greater energy yield. In fact, the solar system based on dual-axis trackers will produce 30 to 45 percent more energy than those fixed-tilt solar systems. Even though they are nowadays used for utility-scale applications, or at least they are starting to, dual-axis solar trackers are more often installed in residential areas.

One dual-axis solar tracker can cover 20 panels per unit, and they are being installed on top of an elevated post in order to allow solar panels to reach a greater range of angles. But bear in mind that the higher the elevation is, it will be more difficult to reach solar panels in order to clean them. Also, these trackers are mainly used for ground-based solar systems, so you can elevate them enough to use the space above them as a carport or place for agriculture. When it comes to rooftop solar systems with trackers, they are in a development process.

Conclusion

Solar trackers are definitely something you should consider having if you own a solar system, given their usage can lead to increased energy production. There’s no doubt that they will cover the initial cost and maintenance fees expenses over time. Since they have the ability to track the sun’s movement and make solar panels take the right position all the time in order to generate more power, they will be worth the investment for sure.

How to Install Solar Panels on Roof and Other Surfaces?

solar panel installation guide featured image

There’s no doubt that with every day more and more people decide to go solar and to become homeowners who are all about preserving their environment while saving on electricity. If you wonder if solar power is worth it, we assure you that it is, but you need to be ready to invest in a system that will pay off in the future, and to install it properly, which demands certain knowledge and preparation.

When it comes to that step, you should know that there are five stages you need to go through before being able to actually use your solar system for powering your home. And we are going to lead you through them all in order for you to really understand what you have to do. This is our solar panels installation guide.

How to install solar panels

The solar panel installation takes time, it’s not something that can be done in a day, even though most people believe exactly that. According to solar panel experts, it will be one to three months before you will be able to actually use the electricity generated from the sun to power up your appliances. Here is how the whole process should look like.

Engineering site visit

First things first. It is essential to make sure an engineer comes to your property to check and evaluate the electrical system at your home as soon as you sign your solar contract. He needs to make sure everything is compatible with the solar system you are ready to install. If you hire a solar installer, there’s a huge chance the engineer will be his employee, which means his services will be included in a price, but he can also be an independent contractor if your installer doesn’t have one in his team.

After the expert checks your electricity status, he will move on to your roof in order to establish what is the condition it’s in, is it firm and structurally safe to welcome solar panels. The next step will be going to the basement and checking your electrical panel, or more precisely, establishing whether or not it will need to be upgraded before the installation process begins. That means that the ampere capacity of your electrical panel will potentially have to be increased in the near future.

Bear in mind that this engineer visit is not the same as the initial visit from the installer when he comes to assess what size of a solar system you need, what is the size and angle of your home’s roof, etc. That’s the visit that happens before the contract is signed, and this one takes place after that moment. Also, remember to check with this expert what is the solar panel direction by zip code, since this is one of the crucial information that can help you have the best possible solar installation.

Documents and permits

You need to prepare yourself that there’s going to be a lot of paperwork you need to be familiar with in order to protect yourself and get the job done. Most of it will be tied to your installer, but there are other things too. You will probably apply for state and federal incentives, for clean energy financing, for the local solar program, for solar renewable energy certificates, etc., and you have to know what documents you need to own in order to go through these processes properly.

Also, there is a building permit you have to get to be able to install a solar system on top of your roof. Now, these permit requirements are determined by the specific place you live in, they can be very different, and you need to meet them all. For example, in some states, there is the rule that says you have to have at least three feet of clear space at your roof that’s surrounding your solar panels, while others allow you to place your solar system across the entire surface of your roof.

You can ask your installer about all these things because he probably knows what demands and requirements in the state he works in primarily are. He can also help you fill out the form and documents you need to submit. Bear in mind that all these processes can take a while, so be prepared to be patient. But if you are in a hurry then make sure to check on the progress of your paperwork.

Ordering the equipment

After your paperwork is done, it is time to order the equipment you will need in order to set the entire solar construction up on your roof. This is the step your installer will take through his distributor, you won’t have to do it personally. But that means you already decided on what pieces of equipment you need, and that you went through the list of all main components.

You should know that there are two main parts you should think about thoroughly – the solar panel itself as well as an inverter and that their efficiency and their durability should be your main concerns. The installer will suggest some brands he believes are the best for you, the ones that are aligned with your budget, but you can always ask him about alternative solutions he thinks are good enough. 

It is recommended that before talking to your solar installer, you do some research first, just to be familiar with the subject and to know what questions to ask. There’s a lot you can learn about solar panels for home on the Internet, and about how each component works. This will make you feel good and prepared for what’s coming next.

Installation

Installing solar panels takes some time, and it starts with roof preparation. Your solar installer will go up on it and check if all tiles are in order and properly attached to the roof construction. After that, he will place the electrical wiring that will make sure your solar panels are connected to your home power system. This step cannot be rushed because whether or not your solar system will be working soon depends on how the wiring is done.

After that, the installer will position and install the racking that will support your solar panels. You should know that racking is the piece of equipment that will be attached to your roof, not solar panels. They go on top of it, under a certain angle. The installer will check its safety before attaching a solar panel to it. The next step includes connecting solar panels to your inverter that will convert the DC power into the Ac power your home appliances can use.

It’s very unlikely that all this work can be done in a day. Usually, the installer will need two to three days to properly finish the job without hurry. But that mostly depends on the size of the solar system you are installing on top of your roof. Now, bear in mind that the installer will need to spend on your property a couple of hours more if you want him also to install a power meter for the purpose of net metering.

Approval

Before you can put your system into work and generate solar energy for your home usage, you need to call a town government representative to come and inspect your system so he can finally approve it. His job is to be thorough and to check the work of your solar installer. That means he needs to be sure the mounting was safely attached to the roof, that wiring is done correctly, and that everything is aligned with all standards.

After that, you will be able to move to an official grid interconnection. This step implies welcoming another inspector, this time from your local electrical company, who will do his own evaluation of the solar system and the work that’s been done regarding the wiring. When he gives you the green light, your solar system can finally start working and producing electricity. You can expect for all these procedures and inspections to last from two weeks to a month if everything goes smoothly and you are not faced with any problem along the way.

Conclusion

So if you were wondering how to install solar panels on the roof of your home, here is the answer. We tried to be thorough but not too detailed and boring, just so you can know what to expect and what are the basics you need to go through in order to place solar panels on your home and put them to work.

It is important to be aware of the fact that the whole procedure will take some time, on average one to three months, so that you don’t get surprised and disappointed with it taking so long. First, there is the documentation and waiting for approvals and permits, and second, solar installers often have a full schedule, and you have to wait for them for a while. That’s why we recommend you to do the installation during the winter months when they are less busy in general.

Solar Panel Direction by Zip Code

You probably feel a bit confused by this title, thinking how it is that the direction of solar panels is connected to some specific zip code. Well, if you want your solar installation to provide you with the best possible production, you need to establish what the proper solar panel angle for your location is. And the zip code will pretty much tell you everything you need to know regarding this subject.

The importance of solar panel direction by zip code

There are several factors that will affect the level of productivity your solar system can provide. And there are things you can and those you cannot influence. For example – the weather and its movement are not something that’s possible to control, but the angle at which your panels will be elevated definitely is. And that’s something that can play a crucial role in generating more energy from the sun.

Now, when installing solar panels for home usage on top of the roof, you need to take into consideration that every location is different, and that something that’s a good solution in one state won’t be equally appreciated and effective in another. That’s because of the average position of the sun that’s different in every place.

It is extremely important to establish what’s the best angle in which to position the solar panels in order to make sure they can bring the maximum out of the system. But that can be quite challenging and hard. You see, there is no one ideal position for solar panels given that the weather is always changing, and seasons are rotating nonstop. What’s a good angle for long summer days isn’t the best one for those short winter and fall daytime hours.

The solar panel experts claim that you can manage to find an adequate angle for your solar construction based on zip code. But let’s first establish why it is important for solar panels to be positioned under a certain angle, how you can calculate it, and what you will achieve by doing so.

Why do solar panels need to be installed at a certain angle?

As you can suspect, the answer is pretty simple. Solar panels don’t need to be but should be positioned with a tilt angle so they could get better exposure towards the sun. The idea behind the solar system is to provide solar cells with as much sunlight as possible, in order for them to generate as much electricity as possible.

The fact that the sun is moving throughout the day, as well as throughout the seasons, can make it tricky to establish the optimal solar panel angle, the one that could provide you with the most effective solar system all the time. It would be good for you to be able to change it several times during the year, but if you are not in a position to do that, then you just have to place it at an optimal angle for the most relevant season.

During the summer, the sun is the highest, while during the winter, it has the lowest position. The middle-ground between these two extremes is believed to be an optimal angle for photovoltaic panels. Of course, it needs to be in correspondence with the latitude of the location of the solar panels. According to experts, if you take all that into consideration and tilt your solar system at that average angle, you will have the best possible output.

How to calculate the ideal solar panel angle?

In order to get the exact number of degrees you can consider to be optimal for the angle of your solar panels, you can use a solar panel angle calculator, or you can do the match on your own. There are two main methods you can use in order to do that. But bear in mind that there is a difference in calculating the optimal title angle for the summer season and the one for the winter season.

The first method implies you take the latitude of the solar panel system location, and then subtract 15° to get an adequate angle for summer. For winter days, you should add 15° on your location’s latitude, while for spring and fall season, it would be best to simply subtract 2.5°. But, evidently, this method is not the most reliable one.

The other system you can use for angle calculation purposes will also establish the right tilt angle for each season, but it will also tell you what the best angle for the midday sun – the hottest period of each day is. You will need to know the latitude of the place once again, then to multiply it by 0.9, and finally to subtract 23.5° in order to get the right number for summertime. For winter, repeat the first step and multiply the latitude by 0.9, and then add 29°.

What are solar trackers?

Solar trackers are devices that will do all the work regarding tilting solar panels in the best possible way on their own. If you own solar trackers, you won’t have to change the position of your solar panels manually every few months so that they can deliver the best output. Instead, trackers will make sure they are always at an optimal angle, working their best.

We are talking about a system that’s designed to constantly follow the movement of the sun in the sky in order to collect the highest amount of sunrays during each day, no matter the season. But there’s a catch. They can be used only for ground-mounted solar systems, and as you know, most households have solar panels on top of their roofs.

 

On the other hand, even if you have solar panels placed in the ground, you should probably think twice about purchasing solar trackers, given they are pretty expensive. They will most definitely make you overstep the budget you have established. The question is, are they worth it? Well, they are a great investment for commercial projects for sure, because these objects need to bring the maximum output all the time, but when it comes to home-related solar systems, they are really not that necessary. If you know what’s the right angle for your solar panels based on the zip code, you are covered.

What Other Factors Affect Solar Panel Angle?

When deciding how to install your solar panel system, you should consider several other things that can affect their angle:

The design of the roof

Most people decide to place a solar installation on the roof, given it won’t be on their way, and it will have the best possible exposure to the sun. Now, roofs usually have an inclination of 30 to 40 degrees, and in that case, solar panels will most likely get enough sunlight, even if they lie flat. But if the inclination is bigger, there’s a chance you won’t be able to get the best possible tilt angle for your panels.

In those cases, it can happen that the optimal angle of solar panels is lower than the roof angle. The solar experts say that the best solution in that scenario would be to leave them flat on the roof. Other extreme implies you have a low angle roof. This is definitely the better option given you can manage to achieve having the best angle for your solar panels, but that will take some time and some money.

If your roof has a very small inclination, you will have to build a specially designed racking system that will hold solar panels the right way, under the right angle. It would not be good to place the solar system directly on the roof of that king because you will always have lower output.

But the worst possible scenario is the one where you want to install solar panels on top of a completely flat roof. In that case, you will absolutely need the racking system, it won’t be a question at all. Only that way, you will be able to set solar panels at an angle you believe is the right one for your place and the season that’s coming.

Solar panels direction

Besides the tilt angle, the outcome of your solar system can depend a lot on the direction of solar panels. Here we are talking about the Azimuth angle, which is actually a horizontal orientation of panels in relation to the equator. This aspect is perhaps more important than the optimal angle because if your solar system is not well-oriented, everything else will be less relevant.

According to solar experts, solar panels should always be oriented towards the equator. If you live in the northern hemisphere, you should position your panels in a way they always face south, and if you are in the southern hemisphere, shift the solar panels, so they face north.

In case you want to check with a compass in what direction to turn your panels bear in mind that they are not always very reliable. Their inaccuracy can go up to 25 percent, but that’s not that often. Even if they miss to point to the north or south precisely, and their inaccuracy is around 10 percent, that won’t interfere with the outcome of your solar system.

Snow

During the winter months, the sun is pretty low in its position, and most people tend to lower the angle of their solar panels as well, in order for them to have the best possible exposure to the sun. But there is one problem – when the snow starts falling, it will probably fully cover the panels system.

So if you want them to continue to work even when the weather is bad, you will have to remove the snow from them or simply adjust the angle in a way that will allow the snow to slide off solar panels on its own. People who live in areas where it regularly snows during the winter keep the panels at a steep angle all the time.

Temperature

Solar panels are made to withstand different weather conditions, including high temperatures. But it can happen that in some places where the temperature goes extremely high, solar panels get negatively affected by it and fail to deliver the expected output. Because of that, people in some states need to make sure there is airflow around their solar installation so that it can work properly and generate electricity at the expected level.

 

Solar Panel Angle by Zip Code

In order to make sure you have the best possible results each season, you should check what’s the optimal solar panel angle for your location by zip code, and hold onto that. The solar experts calculated what is the best angle for each state and city by using a solar panel direction calculator, so you don’t have to do the work on your own.

Now, if you are not in a position to change the angle of your solar panels each season, you should just keep them set up for the season that lasts the longest, or for the one during which you need your system to be the most productive. That usually means keeping solar panels tilted at the angle suitable for the summer.

If you wonder what the angles for some of the cities in the US are, we can tell you that, for instance, the optimal angle for summer in Atlanta is 80°, while for winter, it’s 32°. For Indianapolis, the recommended summer angle is 74°, and for winter 26, for Portland, it’s 68° during summer, and 46° during winter days, etc.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the decision to install solar panels was the right one. Thanks to this move of yours, you will be protecting the environment, and at the same time saving a lot of money on electricity bills. Now you should just make sure you get the maximum out of your investment, and that means adjusting the system in a way that will provide you with the best possible energy output. The tilt angle of solar panels is a crucial part of that process, and we wanted to make sure you know that. All you have to do is to establish what is the optimal angle for panels based on your zip code or to simply calculate it by using one of the two methods we explained above in the text.