Most Solar Panels Facing the Wrong Way

Study suggests they should be oriented west, not south

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 23, 2013 6:31 AM CST

(Newser) – If you happen to have solar panels on your house, they might need a change of direction. A new study suggests that the standard industry advice (at least in this hemisphere) of having the panels face south is wrong, reports National Geographic. Try west instead. The study by the Pecan Street Research Institute in Texas found that homes with west-facing panels generate 2% more electricity per day, with the biggest benefit coming in the late afternoon—generally peak usage time for utilities, notes Gizmodo.

"Quantifying the way that favoring late-day sunlight helps homeowners save money and utilities flatten out demand could lead to a simple but effective hack for the world’s solar installers," writes Christopher Mims at Quartz. "Simply re-orienting solar panels could shorten the amount of time it takes for them to pay for themselves." It's just one study, however, and it would be interesting to see whether the results hold up in winter as well as summer, writes Amanda Miller at the Clean Energy Authority. Still, she adds, "this research has the potential to dramatically change the residential solar market." (Soon, you might be able to pick some up at IKEA.)

Solar panels might need a little reorientation.
Solar panels might need a little reorientation.   (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)
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