Did you know you have a choice when it comes to the orientation that your solar panels are installed on your roof? Horizontal solar panels are so common, that it can come as a surprise to many that solar panels can be installed vertically. Vertical solar panel installation may be a valid option for your home.

Not sure which direction your solar panels should be installed? A trusted solar installer will be key to answering your questions. Ahead of your solar project, 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. Depending on the climate, your roof’s construction, and your solar energy needs, horizontal solar panel installation may be the right choice for your home.

The amount of direct sunlight could impact the direction in which your solar panels are installed. Depending on how your home is situated, your solar panels may actually receive more sunlight if they are installed vertically.  This can also be a wise option if you live in an area that receives a lot of snowfall. As the 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.

It’s important to note 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, be sure to discuss with your solar installer.

horizontal vs vertical 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. 

It is also important to note that you don’t have to install all of your solar panels in one direction/orientation. Panel orientation also has no effect on the number of panels that can be installed. Homeowners 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.

Horizontal v Vertical 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 be able to share 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.

Going for horizontal solar panels is just one possibility when it comes to installing solar panels on your home itself or on your property. Discuss your options with your solar installer today.