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Ideal Direction for Solar Panels in California

Calculating The Best Solar Angle for California:

In order to figure out what the best angle to tilt your solar panels, you must first figure out your latitude.  Here are some different latitude numbers for cities in the state of California:

  • Latitude in San Francisco: 37.75 North
  • Latitude in Los Angeles: 34.05 North
  • Latitude in San Diego: 32.71 North
  • Latitude in San Jose: 37.34 North
  • Latitude of Bakersfield: 35.37 North
  • Latitude of Eureka: 40.80 North
  • Latitude of Redding: 40.58 North
  • Latitude of Sacramento: 38.58 North

Use Latitude to Calculate the Best Fixed Solar Panel Angle in California:

The United States Department of Energy has long said that for fixed plate solar panels, it is relatively easy to calculate the most productive solar panel angle you want to point to.  The angle is based on your latitude minus 15 degrees.  For example, with this logic, in the Bay Area near San Francisco you would want to tilt solar panels at 22 or 23 degrees.  A solar panel tilt of 19 degrees will work best in Los Angeles.  Once again, this is if you do not have any auto-adjusting or pivoting solar panels which change their angle throughout the year or during the day.

Changing the Direction of Your Solar Panels in California Throughout the Year:

To further gain electricity production from solar panels, many people living in California have decided to modify their solar systems throughout the year.  There is a definite gain of energy production if you increase the tilt during the winter months, and the opposite is true during the summer months.  You want to be careful when you start adjusting your solar panel tilt for several reasons.  The main reason is that you need to be up to date on which direction the panels are facing during the year.  As easy as it sounds to make panel adjustments depending on the season, too many people forget to change the panels and end up losing out on energy production.  Another thing to be careful of is to not disturb any of the system wiring that is in place.  A very minor mistake with adjusting solar panels can lead to a few days of downtime which always means energy loss.

How Much Money Can Be Saved with The Ideal Solar Panel Direction?

To determine how much of a positive effect your solar system’s panels provide is going to depend on how ideal your panels tilt is.  This is just one of the factors though.  You need to also heavily consider shade on the solar panels.  As important as the tilt angle can be, and it is important, if you have high amounts of shade hitting your panels, the whole system might be close to worthless.  But, to give a rough idea, if you properly tilt your panels throughout the year, you could very easily be looking at a 20% increase in electricity production in California cities.  The production increase might even be higher if you are in a state with a much larger latitude like our northern neighbors.

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