Did you know you have a choice when it comes to the orientation that your solar panels are installed on your roof? Vertical solar panels are so common, that it can come as a surprise to many that solar panels can be installed horizontally. And horizontal solar panel installation is not only possible, it’s a valid option for your home. Not sure which direction your solar panels should be installed? Here’s what you need to know.
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Horizontal vs. Vertical Solar Panel Installation
Solar panels are mounted to your roof using the rafters in your roof as anchors for your solar panel mounts—generally utilizing steel bolts to attach mounts to the home. Solar installation companies mount their solar panels on rails attached to the steel bolts, specifically for added security and stability. There are a few reasons why most solar panels are installed vertically:
- Fewer rails are required to mount a solar panel vertically instead of horizontally.
- It is easier to have a continuous row of solar panels if they are installed vertically.
- The size of solar panels makes them well suited to be installed vertically on most roofs.
Of course, not every home—or roof—is designed the same way. Depending on the climate, the construction of your roof, and your solar energy needs, horizontal solar panel installation may be the right choice for your home. For example, homes with a roof that is longer than it is tall require solar panels to be mounted horizontally. Also, the amount of direct sunlight could impact the direction in which your solar panels are installed. Your solar panels may actually receive more sunlight if they are installed horizontally. They’re a smart option if you live in an area with a lot of snowfall, because as snow settles on the bottom of the solar panels, it will keep the strings of solar cells that run lengthwise along the solar panel clear of snow and able to convert sunlight into energy.
Keep in mind that horizontal solar panels require about twice as many railings (and mountings) to be installed. However, the benefits of having more efficient solar panels outweigh the cost of using twice as many railings to install the solar panels. If you’re considering this option, it’s a wise idea to first sketch out your roof to figure out the number of solar panels you can install if you opt for the horizontal installation.
Horizontal Solar Panels
If horizontal solar panel installation is the best option for your home, you don’t have to worry about taking any extra steps for their maintenance, because it requires the same care as vertically installed solar panels. In fact, depending on your home’s location and the amount of sunlight it receives, the pitch and direction of your horizontal solar panels will be nearly identical to what they would be if oriented vertically.
Another point to keep in mind is that you don’t have to install all of your solar panels either vertically or horizontally. You do have the option to install them using differing orientations, depending on the shape of your roof. However, it is more efficient to have a consecutive block of solar panels installed using the same orientation— either vertical or horizontal. If there is a break in your roof, or you have room for one more solar panel, then your solar contractor can install the solar panel to fit the space. The image above is a great example of horizontal and vertical solar panel installation.
Horizontal Solar Panel Inverters
If your solar panel contractor advises you that horizontal solar panels are the best choice for your solar needs, you do not need a special inverter. Solar panel inverters work the same, regardless of the solar panel’s orientation. Your contractor will tell you the number of inverters required to convert solar energy into electricity for your home, which depends on the number of solar panels installed.
Similarly, if you are able to install vertical and horizontal solar panels, you will most likely need another inverter for the solar panels that are removed from the group—or block—and oriented in a different direction. Generally, the more power your home requires, the more inverters your solar contractor will install to convert the appropriate amount of energy.
Remember, there is a way to make solar energy a viable energy source for every home. Going for horizontal solar panels is just one possibility when it comes to installing solar panels on your home itself or on your property.
Have you installed horizontal solar panels on your home? Share your experience with us in the comments below!