Solar Panels Placement & Sun Chart Creator

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
Click here to enlarge

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.


Other Posts:

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


11 Responses

  1. Now all I need to Know is, If you have composting toilets and what you do with your waste water


  2. Our toilets are just regular ones, and the waste water go to a 2 stage concrete septic tank

  3. Would it be possible to get from you a load profile / consumption and specs on your system to assist in assessing the size of system we might need. There is an increasing number of off grid home solar packages becoming available. So far I think I’ve been over estimating my needs, placing me in a 3,000 watt system.

    Much appreciated.

  4. Hi Jacques!

    Sorry for the delay in my reply. My brother and a friend were visiting from Canada and staying in the cabana. Guests can keep you real busy!!!

    Our system is 2,400 watt and it is huge. Our needs and use are quite small (I don’t have exact stats), and we would probably be able to get by easily on half that size system. We do not have an eletric fridge, but could. If you plan on having a fridge, then I would say do not go smaller that 2,400 watt.

    Go smaller and plan your system for easy expansion. For exemple, we have a 3,500 watt inverter. This size inverter can handle any system up to 3,500 watt. Therefore, if you start with 1,200 or 2,400 watt (panels and batteries) and wish to expand later on, all you have to do is add panels and/or batteries. Same for you charge controller and other hardware. Install good large ones so that you can expand easily at any time.

    I hope this answer helps! Any other questions, I’d be happy to help you as best I can 🙂

    Where is it that you are planning on living off-grid?

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  6. to date, solar panels which generate more than 100Watts are still expensive but hopefully they are getting cheaper each day ::

  7. i could only wish that solar panels cost only several hundred dollars, i would love to fill my roof with solar panels ,.`

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  10. Making a sun chart is a good idea. I agree that it can be a useful tool when it comes to Finding out which direction and angle solar panels must face. Knowing which is right position for the solar panels will result in better results. The web site you shared containing these useful tools is one of a kind; thanks!

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