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Solar Panels: Flat or Angled? | Which One is Better For Your Home?

Is it just me, or are we seeing new roofs with solar panels pop up almost every single day now? The solar revolution is here, ladies and gents! But with all these new installations coming out, questions still remain. What if I had a flat roof? Would it matter? Should my solar panels be flat or angled?

Truly, that is a crucial discussion, as it could affect how much savings you’re going to get with your solar installation. In all honesty, though, you’re likely overthinking it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are certainly merits and differences between both when it comes to sun exposure, enhancing energy efficiency, and all that good stuff. But, yes, you’re very likely exaggerating the concern, and this article is going to tell you why. Here’s what I’m covering:

Angles and solar panel system orientation: Why is it important?

Solar panel systems draw power from the sun, and their effectiveness is significantly influenced by their ability to absorb sunlight. The positioning and inclination of your solar panels are crucial to optimizing this sunlight capture.

Case in point: the industry best practice for the best year-round sun exposure is that solar panels should be north-facing, as Australia is in the southern hemisphere. Yet the tilt angle at which your panels are set can also affect your system’s efficiency.

This now gets us into discussing the detailed differences between panels on a flat roof or at an angle.

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Flat vs Angled solar panels

Angled solar panels

Solar panels work best when they’re perpendicular to the sun. More often than not, this means that angling the solar panels on your roof also ensures that they absorb more sunlight, thus boosting your system efficiency. After all, the sun isn’t going to be right on top of our heads all the time.

Other benefits of solar panels installed at an angle include the following:

  • More solar power generated
  • More savings because of more power
  • Seamless look if your roof is already angled
  • It cleans itself with rainwater

The best tilt angle for your panels will also depend on where you live. Generally speaking, the most optimal angle for your system will be equal to that of your latitude angle.

It would be best to ask your local installer for this information, but for your reference, here are the latitude angles of the Australian states:

  • NSW: 32°
  • NT: 20°
  • QLD: 21°
  • SA: 30°
  • TAS: 42°
  • VIC: 37°

Recommended: The best angles to install your solar panels

Solar panels on flat roofs

Flat roofs offer more versatile installations. Why? Because you now have the option to use mounting systems and tilt frames where you can control the tilt angle of your PV system as well as where it’s facing. This is opposed to relying solely on your roof’s shape.

This means you can let all your solar panels face north to maximize energy production. Or, you could have half them face east, west, or a combination of both, depending on your electricity consumption habits.

With tilt frames, you also gain all the benefits that come with systems installed at an angle because, needless to say, they’re angled too.

You could also install your solar panels flat (i.e., horizontally). That’s going to get you cheaper installation costs because, well, it’s easier. You do lose many of the benefits, though. Here are a couple of disadvantages of flat solar panels:

  • Dust accumulation is more common because it doesn’t self-clean
  • Solar energy output is lower by about 5–10% because efficiency also declines

How to decide which is best for your home

When choosing between flat or tilted panels, consider the architecture of your roof, your home’s location, and your own budget.

Horizontal panels are a valid option only if you have a flat roof. There’s no point in sabotaging your home’s aesthetics and solar energy output with a flat installation if you have a perfectly angled roof. PV panels installed parallel to a non-tilted roof are also going to be more cost-effective.

If you have the option to install your system at the ideal orientation and angle, though, do it. If you have a horizontal roof and you need frames to have your panels tilted, do it. If you already have a roof that’s angled, no matter what the angle is, do that, too.

It ultimately boils down to your choice and what you’re working with. If you lose a few efficiency points, so be it. Because, really, a modern solar system is so efficient nowadays that even if you lose 5 or 10% of your solar power output, you’re still going to end up saving tons of money on your electricity bills.

Recommended: When are solar panels most efficient?

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Other considerations when you install solar panels

When embarking on the journey of panel installation, whether you’re leaning towards flat or angled panels, it’s essential to keep a few critical considerations in mind.

These insights not only ensure you make the most out of your solar investment but also help in optimizing your setup for maximum efficiency and sustainability.

  • Local climate and weather patterns: Your area’s climate directly affects your system’s performance. Areas with high rainfall benefit more from angled panels for their self-cleaning properties, whereas regions with less rain need to consider maintenance aspects more carefully.
  • Energy needs and consumption patterns: Knowing your peak energy usage times can help determine the best orientation for your solar system. This helps ensure you capture the most sunlight when you need it the most.
  • Future-proofing: With the rapid advancements in solar technology, consider choosing a system that allows for easy upgrades or expansions. Future-proofing your setup can enhance its longevity and adaptability to new technologies.
  • Permits and regulations: Don’t overlook the importance of local permits and regulations. Each region has specific requirements and guidelines for solar panel installations, which can influence your decisions.
  • Professional Consultation: Lastly, consulting with a solar energy expert can provide personalized advice tailored to your home’s unique needs. Should you need it, we have a network of pre-vetted installers ready to give you 3 FREE quotes right away.

FAQs:

What’s the reason why solar panels are tilted?

Solar panels are tilted to optimize their exposure to sunlight, thereby increasing their energy production efficiency, although flat installations are also viable in certain conditions.

How much difference do tilting solar panels make?

The difference in output of tilting solar panels can be up to 5% to 10% compared to non-tilted installations. However, do remember that this is only a rough estimation, and the exact numbers will depend on a variety of things, including geographic location and angle of tilt.

What is the most efficient arrangement of solar panels?

The most efficient arrangement of solar panels will be heavily dependent on your position against the sun and what your local installers are capable of installing.

Conclusion

In deciding between flat and angled solar panels, the choice ultimately aligns with your specific roof architecture, geographical location, your specific situation, and personal preferences on efficiency and aesthetics.

Tilted solar panels lead the race in energy capture due to their optimal exposure to the sun, especially in areas with significant seasonal variation in sunlight. But flat roofs also offer a more practical and versatile installation.

So, in conclusion, work with what you have and consult your local certified installer. Flat panels might lose in terms of solar energy output, but with how efficient modern systems are, it might not make that much of a difference, so do what works for you.

This is where we come in. When you’re ready and when you need it, we’re offering 3 FREE quotes from our network of pre-vetted installers.