What is the ideal location for installing solar panels?

When installing solar panels In the UK, in fact anywhere in the Northern hemisphere, the panels should ideally be mounted on to a South-facing roof for maximum efficiency. On a South-facing roof they will receive maximum exposure to sunlight.

South-East and South-West orientation is also very good, but efficiency will be lost if venturing past these points. And never, ever, ever, should a North facing roof be considered for a solar thermal installation.

The diagram below illustrates how much panel efficiency will be lost depending on your individual site

selecting panel orientation


Careful consideration should be made to surrounding shading. This is especially important when surveying a job in Winter when trees are bare.

A 30' deciduous tree in November with no leaves won't cast much of a shadow. However come spring, it could present very serious efficiency problems! Trees quite a distance away will cast a shadow on your roof, if they are large enough.

Also look for overhang from parts of your own building/surrounding buildings, chimneys and observe them at different times of day to ascertain the best position for your solar panels.

Angle of my roof

Solar panels are not damaged by rainwater, and do not need cleaning, provided that an adequate angle of inclination is achieved. Most manufacturers of solar panels will recommend a roof inclination of between 22 and 75 degrees from the horizontal.

Solar panel at correct orientation

Too shallow an angle, and rainwater will not disperse freely from the collector, and stagnent water will collect and create moss and mould which will eventually lead to the panel losing efficiency

Ideal angle of inclination, as a good rule of thumb, without getting too mathematical, is the same angle as your degree of latitude, depending on where you live. For instance London - 51 degrees, Aberdeen 57 degrees.

Ever been driving in Winter on a sunny day, and been blinded by the glare? In winter the sun is much lower in the sky than in summer, so installing solar panels on a frame that tilts your solar panels up and down seasonally would be ideal. That way you could have them at 35 in winter and at 75 degrees in summer.

However this would not be cost effective, so stick with the rule of thumb, and if you can mount your panels at 50 - degrees, great. You're well on your way to having an efficient solar thermal domestic hot water system.

Where can they go, though?

Having ensured all of the above is possible, how will you mount the collectors on your home? Most manufacturers provide solutions for mounting panels On roof, In roof or on A-frames, should you have a flat roof, or want to mount them on the ground. Click here to find out more

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