Where to Install Solar Panels
September 21, 2021
Knowing where to install your solar panels is a key component in getting the most use out of them. The geographical location of your house, the direction your roof faces, and the size of your panels are all factors that you’ll need to consider before it’s time to install.
Here are some tips from Freedom Solar to help you decide.
Solar Panel Location Options
Installing Solar Panels on Your Roof
Solar panels are most commonly installed on roofs. But what most people fail to consider is that solar panels can be installed on more than just the roof of your home or business — they can be installed on any roof within your property.
Solar panels can easily be mounted on the roof of your garage or a detached building such as a shed. Installing your solar panel system on a different structure on your property makes sense if your home’s roof isn’t big enough for them, or if the other structure has more direct exposure to the sun.
South-facing roofs are the most viable option for solar panel installations because they facilitate the greatest energy output, although southeast- and southwest-facing roofs will typically suffice as well.
The primary benefit of roof installation, whatever the structure you choose, is that your panels are out of the way. Solar panels can also protect your roof from harsh weather (such as hail, excessive rain, snow, abrasive debris from wind, and much more) and block the sun from hitting your roof, thus keeping your house cooler.
However, if your roof isn’t at all south-facing or is too shaded by trees, a roof install may not be the best choice. Some homeowners may also choose to forego roof installation because they don’t want to compromise their roof’s aesthetic; however, there are options available to help create a seamless and attractive design, such as SunPower’s OneRoof.
[Related: What Is the Best Roof for Solar Panels?]
Installing Solar Panels on the Ground
Installing solar panels on the ground is another great option to consider, especially if your residence or business doesn’t have an ideal roof for solar panel installation.
Benefits of ground installation include easier and safer installation and maintenance, since the panels can be accessed without climbing onto the roof. While this isn’t a concern for professionals, you may enjoy the convenience of being able to easily spray down your solar panels yourself — without having to get out a ladder or call in help.
Ground solar panel systems often feature better efficiency due to the space beneath them for airflow, which helps to keep the panels cool. And unlike with a roof, you also have the option to expand your system on the ground. A roof only has so much give, but a ground system affords you more space to add panels in the future if wanted.
The primary drawback of installing solar panels on the ground is that they take up space on your property. If you go this route, consider where they’ll be least in the way. For example, some people choose to install solar panels in their front yard rather than the back so that they don’t eat into activity space. This is also a great option if you want to show your panels off, since they’ll be visible from the street.
[Related: Guide to Ground-Mounted Solar Panels]
Installing Solar Panels on a South-Facing Wall
If you don’t have a south-facing roof, or if you’d prefer to keep your solar panel system off of the ground, then installing them on a south-facing wall might be the way to go.
It’s essential that you use a south-facing wall so that your panels can reach their full solar power potential, which includes excess power generation that will store in your battery as reserves and qualify for net metering credits.
Some homeowners enjoy the fact that wall-mounted systems leave both their roofs and lawns exposed and untouched — a perk if you enjoy the design elements of your home and don’t want to change them.
But it’s usually sheer luck to have a south-facing wall with no windows, doors, or decorative obstructions, which can leave little room for solar panels. And wall-mounted systems produce less energy on average than roof or ground panels since they’re at a 90-degree pitch — they’ll produce the most energy at the very end of the day, when the sun is low and the rays aren’t as intense.
[Related: Guide to Wall-Mounted Solar Panels]
Where Is the Best Place to Install Solar Panels?
All solar panel installations are a little different, so depending on your preferences in addition to the style and orientation of your house, some places might be better than others for an install.
Here are some of the pros and cons of each placement location.
Roof installation makes the most sense if:
- Your roof is south-facing and gets sufficient sun exposure.
- No buildings or trees are creating shade on your roof.
- You don’t want to take up vacant space on your property.
- You want to protect your roof from adverse weather conditions.
- You want to keep your house cooler.
Ground installation makes the most sense if:
- You want easy access to your panels for maintenance and cleaning.
- You don’t want to cover or obstruct your roof’s design elements.
- You don’t mind solar panels taking up yard space.
- You want your panels visible to passersby from the front yard.
- You want the option to expand your system later on.
South-facing wall installation makes the most sense if:
- You don’t want your roof covered but want your panels attached to your home.
- You have a wall that faces true south with no obstructions (i.e., windows or doors).
- Your home doesn’t require large amounts of energy to power.
- You live in north latitudes, where the sun remains south and low in the sky.
Go Solar With Freedom Solar
If you’re thinking about acquiring solar panels (or if you already have them) and aren’t sure where the best place to install them is, one of the best steps is to consult a professional. Freedom Solar can send a specialist to your home to assess the most suitable location for you.