You want to get solar for your home but have no idea where it should go? Ideal locations for a home PV Solar System can often vary from site to site. As part of the PV process, most installers conduct a site assessment which allows them to analyze and examine your site and potential solar array placement. Here are the top 5 (amongst many other) variables that we at PPC Solar look at and discuss with homeowners.

1. Out & Away from Shade
During the initial site analysis, we investigate the best possible location for the array of panels. One of the first questions we answer is “Does it make sense to install the solar array on the roof?” Sometimes, the roof is not always the best place to install solar, because of obstructions like trees or cooling systems. Shading critically affects solar performance, and determining a shade-free location is fundamental to good PV design.

2. Costs of Solar
The reason why we first ask if it makes sense to install the solar array on the roof is because that is usually the least expensive. Reducing groundwork, such as trenching, saves the homeowner money and time. If the angle or orientation of a roof is less than optimal, we can increase the number of solar panels to produce the ideal system output.

3. Orientation & Tilt Angle
The orientation and tilt angle come into play when we consider where the array will best take advantage of the sun. Our main priority when designing a system is to provide homeowners with an optimal photovoltaic system, meaning we size a system to offset all electricity consumption. So, with orientation and tilt angle, we can deviate a certain amount, but all deviations can decrease the system output. In Northern New Mexico, the optimal azimuth is 180 degrees true south, and the fixed position tilt angle is 37 degrees Latitude, for maximum annual performance.

A great resource for calculating annual energy production for grid-tied PV systems is www.nrel.gov/pvwatts

4. Ideal Conditions
When considering a roof mount solar installation, the condition of the roof is crucial. In the myriad of years that we have been installing solar, we have come across many different roofs. The structure must be adequate and strong. Some key variables that we evaluate are: roof age, roof direction, room on the roof for the array, and roof type.

5. Aesthetics
In the Southwest, many homes have parapets, barriers which are an extension of the wall at the edge of the roof, terrace, balcony, etc. For roofs with parapets, the solar panels are installed on tilt-up roof mounted arrays. Parapets can hide the array, preserving the aesthetics for the homeowner. In other cases, when homeowners are concerned about aesthetics, they can choose other mounting options, such as pole mount, ground mount, and carport mount systems.

Example of a Parapet Wall

Example of a Parapet Wall

Often times, at the end of the solar installation, homeowners begin to see their array as setting an example of stewardship and sustainability. And that is definitely something to show the world! If your home is in Southern Colorado or New Mexico, you can get our professional feedback and advisement on solar for your home. Contact us and schedule an evaluation here.

 

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