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Designing A System

Whether you are planning or living in an existing home or building, the design and placement on a building or lot will allow your solar electric system to take advantage of the sun’s energy saving thousands of dollars in energy costs over the years. Key factors that will affect performance are:

A South or Southwest orientation is best to maximize sun exposure. The closer a solar photovoltaic system is oriented to solar south, the more solar electricity it will generate, thereby increasing the financial return on the project.

While the best annual performance generally comes from a PV array that is mounted at a tilt equal to your location’s latitude, your roof pitch may not match this parameter. No problem - an array tilted 15 degrees off from your latitude will still produce 95% of the energy from an array tilted at latitude.

Small amounts of shade can significantly reduce the output, which is like throwing kWh and money down the drain. Shading is the number one system performance problem whether form overhangs, second stories, trees, exhaust vents or chimneys.

Solar panels will generate electricity for more than 25 years. If your roof is more than 10 years old, it may be more cost effective to install a new roof than remove and re-install the panels down the road. Panels will preserve the roof’s longevity by blocking UV rays, keeping most snow and ice off the roof and providing shelter to the roof. The amount of space needed depends on the size of your system.

Dirt, dust, bird droppings and snow can filter out some sunlight affecting system performance. Periodic rainfall or light hosing will take care of these.

Like any material exposed to sunlight, PV modules heat up. Therefore, it is important to provide sufficient airflow with a 3-6” air gap between the roof and flat mounted panels to maximize performance.

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