Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Is facing solar panels south really the most efficient?

The conventional wisdom when installing solar panels says that by facing them south you achieve the maximum efficiency. But is this really always the case or not?

The recent energy studies argue that this popular thesis might be wrong and that south might actually be the wrong way for installing solar panels on your homes. The most recent study on this topic comes from United Kingdom. Professor Ralph Gottshalg of Loughborough University claims that too many solar panels are facing in the wrong direction resulting in the fact that "grid is disrupted on sunny summer lunchtimes with a flood of solar power so cheap it has to be almost given away."

In Germany, for instance, new solar installations are faced east-west in order to smooth the supply of power during the day and hinder spikes of power at midday.

The last year study by the researchers from the University of Austin, Texas also come with the rather surprising conclusion that solar panels facing west may achieve better efficiency than those faced south. The homeowners in Austin who faced their panels west were able to generate more electricity each day, and also in the afternoon, when power grids reach peak demand.

Professor Michael Walls, of Loughborough University says that "to maximise the amount of power produced by those panels, facing south is correct but if you have the solar panels facing east-west then you can even out the power during the day."

In other words, if all solar panels are facing south, the result is peak power at midday which is very difficult for the grid to cope with. The wise thing for new solar panel installations would be to face them east-west so they could smooth out the supply of power from all installed solar panels.