Study: Solar Panels Facing the Wrong Direction
A perhaps counter-intuitive study in Austin, Texas, has arrived at the conclusion that everyone is installing their solar panels to face in the wrong direction, at least in the northern hemisphere. For generations, architects and common sense have told us that “up” and “to the south” is the best direction to point in order to soak up maximum horizon-to-horizon rays.
Not so fast, according to the Austin research, which concluded that west-facing panels generated 2 percent more electricity. Additionally, aiming solar panels to the west reduced energy consumption by 65 percent during the 3pm to 7pm “peak time,” while south-facing panels reduced electricity use by 54 percent during peak time.
The bottom line is that maybe conventional wisdom has been wrong all these years. In retrospect, a westward orientation that catches the rays of the setting sun during the heat of the day does make sense. And saving electricity at the rate of 2 percent daily could help those expensive panels pay for themselves a lot sooner. The decision on whether or not to run out and re-arrange your solar panel collection rests entirely on the homeowner’s shoulders, but it is at least something to think about. (Derek Dowell – VNN) (Image: Flickr | U.S. Army Environmental Command)