Find The Best Deals on Your Favorite solar power Products and Save!

Let's Go!

How Much Should Solar Panels Be Tilted? [Does Tilt Matter?]

Tim Carter
Written by Tim Carter Last Updated: July 22, 2022

When we were little, we were taught that the sun’s arc in the sky is simple. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, while it’s high in the sky at noon. The sun’s course, though, is a little more complicated than that as it passes across the sky differently depending on where you live and the time of year because the earth has a natural tilt and an elliptical orbit around the sun. So how much should solar panels be tilted for the best performance of solar panels? Does solar panel tilt matter at all?

Your solar panel’s electricity production depends on the tilt of your solar panels. In turn, the tilt of your solar panels should correspond to the latitude of your location and the season because the quantity of power a photovoltaic (PV) system produces will depend on their vertical tilt or angle.

You may increase the amount of solar electricity generated by optimizing and altering the tilt of your solar panels by these variables.

The vertical tilt of your PV system is sometimes referred to as the solar panel angle. An untilted solar system is parallel to the earth. It is at a 90° angle if it is standing straight up and parallel to the ground.

Table of Contents

What Solar Panel Tilt Angle Produces the Best Results?

The sun’s angle varies throughout the year, making it difficult to predict how well a panel will capture solar radiation when the sun’s beams are perpendicular to the panel’s surface.

Throughout the year, as well as depending on latitude, the ideal tilt angle for a PV panel will change.

The tilt angle rises with latitude; therefore, the farther your home is from the equator, the larger your tilt angle should be.

The sun, for instance, rises higher in the sky in states with lower latitudes (like Arizona and Hawaii). To catch the direct sunshine in these states, solar PV panels need to be tilted down.

The sun is lower in the sky for states that are at higher latitudes, such as Minnesota and Oregon. For the best sunlight absorption in those states, solar photovoltaic panels should be positioned at higher tilt angles.

How Does the Performance of Solar Panels Affect Tilt Angle?

The natural tilt and orbit of the earth around the sun affect how the sun seems to travel across the sky in various parts of the planet and during the year.

The vertical angle at which solar panels should be set for a solar system to produce the greatest energy from the sun’s rays hitting the surface depends on the location of the installation.

Untilted solar panels would be set perpendicular to the ground, whereas tilted solar panels would stand upright.

Many factors influence solar power generation besides the sun’s position.

The impact of climatic and environmental factors is also determined by the angle at which solar panels are positioned.

In areas nearer the equator, snow buildup on panels during the winter can prevent sunlight from reaching its full potential.

By enabling snow and rain to slide off, a higher tilt angle helps reduce the quantity of snow and ice that builds up on the panels’ surface.

In arid, dirty, or desert environments, the tilt can help prevent soiling from dust, sand, and dirt, which can block sunlight and lessen energy conversion.

At What Angle Should My Solar Panels Be To Get the Best Results?

The tilt for solar panels should typically match the geographical latitude of the site to get optimal yearly energy production.

The ideal tilt angle for a solar array at latitude 50° would be 50°.

The tilt for the panel to face the sun should be higher the farther away from the equator and the nearer the poles the site is.

With fixed structures, the tilt places the PV modules at an angle that gives them continuous direct sunlight as the sun’s position varies throughout the day.

However, tilting solar panel rows causes the subsequent parallel rows to be partially shaded, reducing their exposure to direct sunlight.

Additionally, the amount of electricity produced by a crystalline PV module is reduced when even one of its cells is shadowed.

Even slight shadowing for utility-scale systems might cause significant production losses.

The secret to project optimization is to expand the space between parallel panel rows without significantly expanding the installation site’s total size.

An excessively large ground-mounted system raises the cost of the land required and could not be practical for locations where the additional land is not accessible.

Roof-mounted systems are restricted to the rooftop of the building’s usable space. When solar panels are placed too widely apart, fewer may be installed on a rooftop or piece of land, which results in less electricity being generated.

The ideal tilt angle for fixed-mount solar panels can be determined using a straightforward rule: during the summer, deduct 15 degrees from your location’s latitude, and in the winter, add 15 degrees.

Use the second calculation on this page to determine the tilt angle for a precise method.

For instance, in the San Francisco Bay Area, a tilt angle of 22 to 23 degrees is ideal for solar panels. The ideal solar panel tilt for Los Angeles is 19 degrees.

If you choose a fixed installation, these angles will provide you with the best total production over the year. Actually, by altering solar panels dependent on the season, you may enhance energy production even more.

What Is Backtracking?

Solar panel backtracking adjusts the tilt of the panels as the sun moves across the sky during the day and year using a motor and tracking control program.

Minimizing the shade from the next rows of panels increases the direct sunlight that enters the panel from the sun’s path to prevent production losses.

The loss in the generation is less than the system would lose from the rows of panels being shaded, even though altering the angle of the panels to minimize shading may move their surfaces away from the best angle for direct solar rays.

Electricity is produced more effectively by panel backtracking than by PV systems with fixed structures.

However, it is crucial to keep in mind that because the tilt of the panels must be adjusted by motors; it is more expensive to install and requires more equipment maintenance than fixed structures.

Backtracking is often used in regions where the ratio of direct to diffuse sunlight is higher so that changing the tilt of the panels can create enough extra electricity to make the investment worthwhile.

Depending on how perfectly tilted your solar system’s panels are, you may estimate how much of a beneficial impact they will have. But this is merely one of them.

The solar panels’ exposure to shade must be carefully considered. Even though the tilt angle can be crucial, if your panels are exposed to a lot of shade, the entire system may be almost useless.

In California, though, you may easily see a 20% increase in electricity generation if you slant your panels properly throughout the year. If you live in a state with considerably greater latitude, the rise in productivity might even be higher.

What Is the Best Solar Panel Tilt for Each Season?

In addition to varying latitudes, the angle of the sun also varies with the seasons.

The sun is lower in the winter and higher in the summer. Most utility-scale fixed-tilt solar photovoltaic systems are tilted 20 to 30 degrees.

This implies that you would need to make adjustments for each season if you wanted to make sure that your solar panels are always positioned for maximum exposure to sunshine.

We show the ideal solar panel angle for each state in the table below.

The ideal solar panel tilt angle for some USA states

Final Thoughts

The angle of your solar panel, which is influenced by two factors—latitude and season—can change how much solar electricity you generate.

By adjusting the tilt of your solar panels by these factors, you may maximize the amount of solar electricity generated.

Because the tilt angle increases with latitude, it should be greater the further your home is from the equator.

For instance, in states with lower latitudes, the sun rises higher in the sky (like Arizona and Hawaii). You must angle downward solar PV panels in these states to receive direct sunlight.

The sun’s angle changes with the seasons besides its latitude. In winter, the sun is lower; in summer, it is higher.


Tim Carter
Tim Carter

Hey there! 👋

Check out these most popular solar power products on the market: