Published on March 4, 2014
Where is the Best Place to Harness Solar Energy? Solar energy is becoming more popular as a resource for private homeowners. Certain areas of the country are seeing a surge in solar installations on private residential properties. Solar panels can save homeowners lots of money on utility bills, but unless you install them properly and optimize their exposure to the rays of the sun, you may find yourself frustrated with them. In some areas of the country it just doesn’t make sense to utilize solar energy as a resource because the region experiences too much cloud cover through the year. Additionally, there are certain things you want to make sure you do when you do install panels to make sure that you are optimizing the power you can generate. What Regions are best for Solar Panels? The closer to the equator that you get, the better your chances are for getting more juice out of your solar panels. In the United States, the Pacific Northwest and the Great Lakes Region are the least ideal regions for solar panels. They have a significant cloud cover through the year and panels would just not work as well in those conditions. Obviously, the sunniest regions will be the best for using solar panels, but even areas that get a mix of cloud cover and sunny days can benefit from using solar panels. In an area where you may experience cloud cover for up to half of your year, there are some tricks and tips you can use to make the most of the sun that you do get. Positioning your Panels for Optimal Energy Production To begin with, when placing your solar panels, you want to make sure that they will spend little or no time under the cover of shade from nearby structures or vegetation. Place them on the south or east side of your home, as those are the sides that will get the most sun. If your panels are going to be stationary, you want to tilt them facing south to get the best sun. Precise placement and the right angle can help you double or triple the energy output of your panels. For detailed information, you can search online or consult a professional for instructions specific to your region. Additionally, if you are able, sun tracking mounts and other solar mounting systems are available that allow your panel to follow the path of the sun, increasing the energy output. If you don’t can’t get a tracking system, you may also look into the option of purchasing large mirrors and placing them at the foot of your panels. This may be difficult depending on whether your panels are on the ground or your roof, but a mirror may enable you to double your output.
No matter where you live, it is best to consult with a professional before you dive in on a DIY solar installation project. These professionals will be able to help you save money and they will know exactly how to optimize your panel positions for the greatest output possible. Photo Credit: Activ Solar, Jeff Kubina
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