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101 Renewable - Solar panels tilt calculations (fine tuning)

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Last Updated
6th of October, 2018

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Here we want to present how to harvest the most amount of solar energy using solar photovoltaic panels or solar thermal panels by fixing the tilt based on the latitude of the location. 

To reach this goal we have to talk about tilt and angle orientation of those solar panels referring to position-fixed or adjusted of photovoltaic and thermal solar panels at different seasons of the year. 

As a general rule solar panels should always face true South in the Northern Hemisphere, North in the Southern Hemisphere and they have to be tilted from the horizontal at a degree equal to your latitude plus 15 degrees in winter, or minus 15 degrees in summer. This is the general rule.

We would like to improve the general rule and therefore following calculations will correct evaluating the solar panels orientation and will increase the energy harvested with up to 5% or more over the general orientation rule presented above. 

We will alter the general rule for the “Solar Seasons”. Here are the dates which define the “Solar Seasons” as they occur and when it is recommended to make the adjustments with respect to the northern hemisphere:

  • March 1 (Spring)

  • April 19 (Summer)

  • August 23 (Fall)

  • October 14 (Winter)

Winter Season @ October 14.

The winter season has the least sun. The most amount of solar energy will be harvest with the tilt altered in such that the panels points directly at the sun at noon. To achieve that goal we have to multiply the latitude by 0.9, and add 30 degrees.

Columbus, Ohio at 40 degrees. The alteration is 40 X .9 + 30 = 66 degrees tilt from horizontal.

Spring Season @ March 1.

Tilt angle must be adjusted as: latitude minus 2.5°.

Columbus, Ohio  is at 40 degrees. The alteration is 40 -2.5 = 37.5 degrees tilt from horizontal.

Summer Season @ pril 19.

Tilt angle for summer - 52.5° less than the winter angle.

Columbus, Ohio  is at 40 degrees. The alteration is (40 X .9 + 30) – 52.5 = 13.5 degrees tilt from horizontal.

Fall Season @ August 23.

Tilt angle must be adjusted as: latitude minus 2.5°.

Columbus, Ohio  is at 40 degrees. The alteration is 40 -2.5 = 37.5 degrees tilt from horizontal.

To choose your locations see below for a list of cities and their latitudes:~



City  

Latitude. N.    Longitude W.
     ( ° )      ( ' )    ( ° )       ( ' )

Albany, N.Y.

         42

       40    

         73

          45

Albuquerque, N.M.  

         35  

       05

       106

          39

Amarillo, Tex.  

         35

       11

       101

          50

Anchorage, Alaska

         61

       13

       149  

          54

Atlanta, Ga.

         33

       45

         84  

          23

Austin, Tex.

         30

       16   

         97

          44

Baker, Ore.

         44  

       47

       117  

          50

Baltimore, Md.  

         39    

       18

         76  

          38

Bangor, Maine

         44

       48

         68

          47

Birmingham, Ala.

         33

       30

         86

          50

Bismarck, N.D.

         46

       48   

       100

          47

Boise, Idaho   

         43   

       36  

       116

          13

Boston, Mass.    

         42   

       21  

          71

            5

Buffalo, N.Y.    

         42  

       55     

          78

          50

Calgary, Alba., Can.

         51   

         1  

        114

            1

Carlsbad, N.M.   

         32      

       26     

        104

          15

Charleston, S.C.

         32   

       47    

          79    

          56

Charleston, W. Va.  

         38

       21   

          81   

          38

Charlotte, N.C.   

         35

       14

          80

          50

Cheyenne, Wyo.   

         41   

         9    

        104

          52

Chicago, Ill.     

         41  

       50   

          87   

          37

Cincinnati, Ohio    

         39   

         8     

          84    

          30

Cleveland, Ohio

         41   

       28  

          81  

          37

Columbia, S.C.  

         34  

         0   

          81  

            2

Columbus, Ohio  

         40   

         0  

          83   

            1

Dallas, Tex.   

         32

        46  

          96

          46

Denver,Colo.   

         39

        45

         105  

           0

Des Moines, Iowa   

         41

        35

           93  

          37

Detroit, Mich.

         42

        20

           83

            3

Dubuque, Iowa

         42

        31

           90

          40

Duluth, Minn.

         46

        49

           92

            5

Eastport, Maine

         44

        54

           67

            0

Edmonton, Alb., Can.

         53

        34

         113

          28

El Centro, Calif.

         32

        38

         115

          33

El Paso, Tex.

         31

        46

         106

          29

Eugene, Ore.

         44

          3

         123

            5

Fargo, N.D.

         46

        52

           96

          48

Flagstaff, Ariz.

         35

        13

         111

          41

Fort Worth, Tex.

         32

        43

           97

          19

Fresno, Calif.

         36

        44

         119

          48

Grand Junction, Colo.

         39

          5

         108

          33

Grand Rapids, Mich.

         42

        58

           85

          40

Havre, Mont.

         48

        33

         109

          43

Helena, Mont.

         46

        35

         112

            2

Honolulu, Hawaii

         21

        18

         157

          50

Hot Springs, Ark.

         34

        31

           93

            3

Houston, Tex.

         29

        45

           95

          21

Idaho Falls, Idaho

         43

        30

         112

            1

Indianapolis, Ind.

         39

        46

           86

          10

Jackson, Miss.

         32

        20

           90

          12

Jacksonville, Fla.

         30

        22

           81

          40

Juneau, Alaska

         58

        18

         134

          24

Kansas City, Mo.

         39

          6

           94

          35

Key West, Fla.

         24

        33

           81

          48

Kingston, Ont., Can.

         44

        15

           76

          30

Klamath Falls, Ore.

        42

        10

         121

          44

Knoxville, Tenn.

         35

        57

           83

          56

Las Vegas, Nev.

         36

        10

         115

          12

Lewiston, Idaho

         46   

        24  

         117

            2

Lincon,Neb

         40

         50

         96

          40

London, Ont., Can.

         43

          2

          81

          34

Long Beach, Calif.

        33

        46

         118

          11

Los Angeles, Calif.

         34

          3

         118

          15

Louisville, Ky.

         38

        15

          85

          46

Manchester, N.H.

         43

          0

          71

          30

Memphis, Tenn.

         35

          9

          90

            3

Miami, Fla.

         25

        46

          80

           12

Milwaukee, Wis.

         43

         2

         87

         55

Minneapolis, Minn.

         44

         59

         93

         14

Mobile, Ala.

         30

         42

         88

         3

Montgomery, Ala.

         32

         21

        86

        18

Montpelier, Vt.

       44

         15

         72

         32

Montreal, Que., Can.

        45

         30

         73

         35

Moose Jaw, Sask., Can.

         50

         37

        105

        31

Nashville, Tenn.

         36

         10

         86

         47

Nelson, B.C., Can.

         49

         30

         117

        17

Newark, N.J.

        40

        44

         74

         10

New Haven, Conn.

         41

         19

         72

        55

New Orleans, La.

        29

       57

         90

         4

New York, N.Y.

         40

         47

        73

        58

Nome, Alaska

         64

        25

         165

        30

Oakland, Calif.

         37

        48

         122

         16

Oklahoma City, Okla.

        35

         26

         97

        28

Omaha, Neb.

         41

         15

         95

         56

Ottawa, Ont., Can.

         45

         24

         75

         43

Philadelphia, Pa.

         39

         57

         75

         10

Phoenix, Ariz.

         33

         29

         112

         4

Pierre, S.D.

         44

         22

         100

         21

Pittsburgh, Pa.

         40

         27

         79

         57

Portland, Maine

         43

         40

         70

         15

Portland, Ore.

         45

         31

         122

         41

Providence, R.I.

        41

         50

         71

         24

Quebec, Que., Can.

         46

         49

         71

         11

Raleigh, N.C.

         35

         46

         78

         39

Reno, Nev.

         39

         30

         119

         49

Richfield, Utah

         38

         46

         112

         5

Richmond, Va.

         37

         33

         77

         29

Roanoke, Va.

         37

         17

         79

         57

Sacramento, Calif.

         38

         35

         121

         30

St. John, N.B., Can.

         45

         18

         66

         10

St. Louis, Mo.

         38

         35

         90

         12

Salt Lake City, Utah

         40

         46

         111

         54

San Antonio, Tex.

         29

         23

         98

         33

San Diego, Calif.

         32

        42

         117

         10

San Francisco, Calif.

         37

         47

         122

         26

San Jose, Calif.

         37

         20

         121

         53

San Juan, P.R.

         18

         30

         66

         10

Santa Fe, N.M.

        35

        41

         105

         57

Savannah, Ga.

         32

         5

         81

         5

Seattle, Wash.

         47

         37

         122

         20

Shreveport, La.

         32

         28

         93

        42

Sioux Falls, S.D.

         43

        33

         96

        44

Sitka, Alaska

         57

         10

         135

         15

Spokane, Wash.

         47

         40

         117

         26

Springfield, Ill.

         39

         48

         89

         38

Springfield, Mass.

         42

         6

         72

         34

Springfield, Mo.

         37

         13

         93

         17

Syracuse, N.Y.

         43

         2

         76

         8

Tampa, Fla.

         27

         57

         82

         27

Toledo, Ohio

         41

         39

         83

         33

Toronto, Ont., Can.

         43

         40

         79

         24

Tulsa, Okla.

         36

         09

         95

         59

Vancouver, B.C., Can.

         49

         13

         123

         06

Victoria, B.C., Can.

         48

         25

         123

         21

Virginia Beach, Va.

         36

         51

         75

         58

Washington, D.C.

         38

         53

         77

         02

Wichita, Kan.

         37

         43

         97

         17

Wilmington, N.C.

         34

         14

         77

         57

 

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