Solar Hints & Tips
Where to point your panel
One of the biggest tips we can give you and I know this might sound too simple but you need to get the solar panel pointing in the right direction and on the right angle for the time of year.
For example because we are in the northern hemisphere in the UK your panel should always point south. The angle however will change and will depend on your latitude. The UK is between 50-60 degrees latitude. So depending on latitude and time of year depends on the angle you will need.
There is a simple calculation that you can do to work this out.
Take your latitude and add 15 for summer or subtract 15 for winter.
Example; for London it would be 51.5 degrees.
51.5 + 15= 66.5 degrees for winter
51.5 - 15 = 36.5 degrees for summer
This will simply give you an good approximate angle.
If you need more power in the winter then the correct angle for the winter can be used all year round. This maybe more beneficial due to less harvestable daylight hours in the winter and the need for more light as well.
So how much energy will you get from your solar panel?
On average in the winter you will get one hour of usable sunlight per day. So if you have a 100 Watt solar panel you will 100 watts of energy produced from you panel. In the summer months you get around 7 hours of usable sunlight per day, so you will get 700 watts of energy produced a day. This of course is an average some days you will get more and on other days you will get less, this is where having the right size battery becomes very important.
So how does it work?
The system consists of an array of solar panels, which absorbs sunrays to convert them into electricity. The number and area of the panels depends on the amount of electricity required. The panel rating needs to be selected based on a number of other factors, such as loses in the system, the capacity factor and changing weather conditions. The electricity produced by the panel is then stored in a battery, which can then be used when you need it.
Which battery do you need?
There are hundreds of different batteries on the market which can be very confusing, ranging from £60 all the way in to the hundreds. But how do you know what size battery you will need? Well it really all depends on how much energy you are using on a day to day basis and how long you want you system to work without any sunlight. Take for example the battery pictured on the right, it is a 115ah battery full charged this has 1,380 watts stored in it. So in theory if you were using 100 watts a day then this would run your system for around 13 days. Ideally you wouldn't want to run your battery to anything less than around 50% charge as this could shorten the life of the battery. Please see our blog about batteries for more information.