When you take the plunge and decide to have solar panels installed on your roof, it’s a big decision! Of course you want to be sure that everything is done the right way and that you’re going to be happy with the way your house looks with the system.
You’ve probably seen some solar systems where the panels are installed in vertical orientation, and others in a horizontal orientation. This might leave you wondering, why are they different and does it matter if solar panels are horizontal or vertical?
The orientation of your solar panels doesn’t affect the production of your system. In the US, panels are generally installed vertically by default unless you have a flat roof which better allows for horizontal panels since they won’t protrude as much.
Let’s dive a little deeper to think about why your solar panel orientation may have been chosen for your home, and why other systems have their own design.
Why are your panels installed in a vertical (portrait) orientation?
- Solar panels are mounted to the rafters on your roof using “rails.” Since panels are not as wide as they are tall, it takes fewer rails to install the panels in a vertical orientation than in a horizontal orientation. Less railing means less overall cost!
- The slant and size of your roof allow the panels to fit more efficiently with a vertical orientation.
- This tends to be the default orientation for many solar installation companies.
Why are your panels installed in a horizontal (landscape) orientation?
- You have a flat roof or a roof slanted in a way that if the panels were oriented vertically they would stick up higher than is ideal at their 10-40 degree tilt.
- You live in a place where that is the aesthetic norm.
- Due to the sun exposure on your roof, a horizontal orientation will be exposed to more light throughout the day and therefore provide you with more energy.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if your solar panels are horizontal or vertical. Your solar system was likely designed to best fit your individual needs and preferences! So, if you’re not happy with the orientation of your panels for any reason, you should talk to your contact with the solar company to find out if they can work with you!
Just keep in mind that the most important thing about your new solar system is that it’s able to do its job in providing your home with energy. So in some cases, changing the recommended orientation of the panels may not be in your best interest.