When designing your solar system, there’s a very important factor that should not be omitted, as it can very well make or break the amount of electricity you are capable of producing. It is to figure out the best placement of your solar panels/arrays for maximum performance. Finding out which direction and angle your panels must face will allow you to determine where to locate them, and then you will be ready to decide the type of mount you will need; roof, fixed mount, tracking mount etc.
Making your own sun chart is quite easy and fun. The website I use is by Jürgen Giesen and has great user-friendly tools.
All you have to do is enter your location data, mainly your coordinates (you can obtain your coordinates from a GPS, an Atlas or I believe even from Google Earth), and it creates an easy to read sun map with key information such as the number of hours of sunshine, its intensity etc.
Sun Map for June 24, 2008
Click here to enlarge
Sun Map for December 24, 2008
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Above are two charts for my situation, located in the Cayo District of Belize (17º N – 88º W, just North of the equator). I created a chart for June and one for December. With these results I was able to conclude that I needed for my panels to be able to do a full tilt and or swivel since the sun is slightly north in the summer and quite south in the winter.
For the end result, our solar panels are on fixed (bolted in concrete) ‘Belize custom made’ steel tri-pod style base mount with a rack that holds 6 panels and has a manual crank mechanism that allows us to tilt to a 90 degree angle and rotate 365 degrees. In North America, your solar array will be facing toward the southern half of the hemisphere at all times of the year.
Another important factor that will affect the efficacy of your charging power is obstructions. When orienting solar panels, it is a bit like orienting your dish for TV or Internet Satellite; you don’t want anything in their way like branches, buildings, trees, mountains… So that is why our solar system is set up in our 3 acre orchard. It is also important that your solar panels are accessible for cleaning. If your panels are tilted at about 45 degrees or more and it rains once in a while, it’s not too much of an issue. But if your panels are flat mounted, dirt will accumulate and build up far easier.
These are just some of the basic things that need to be considered when setting up a solar system. With some research and talking to your local alternative energy supplier or someone with an existing system, you will be able to obtain more insight on the do’s and dont’s of solar.
1 ~ Living Comfortably In The Jungle Of Central America!
2 ~ Producing And Storing Your Own Electricity, You Have The Power To!
3 ~ Building Off-Grid In The Jungle, Fun But Challenging
4 ~ Easy Broadband Satellite Internet Access
5 ~ Water Supply Considerations, Off-Grid In The Jungle
6 ~ The Domestic Cats’ Life In The Jungle
7 ~ The Belize Mennonite’s Lifestyle
8 ~ How To Live As An Expat In A Foreign Country
9 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
10 ~ Living in Paradise! But, Where Is It?
11 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
12 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
13 ~ Fleas & Ticks In The Jungle
14 ~ The Dangers Of The Black Poisonwood Tree
15 ~ To Buy Or To Rent When Moving Abroad
16 ~ Home Schooling When Living Abroad
17 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 1 of 2
18 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 2