Embracing westward solar panels can significantly enhance your home’s energy efficiency and drive considerable cost savings. When it comes to renewable energy sources, solar panels are leading the charge. By strategically installing these power houses on the western side of your home, you’re not only doing your part in shrinking your carbon footprint, but you’re also setting yourself up for increased power production and subsequent cost savings. This article unpacks the benefits of west facing solar panels over their southern counterparts, the relevance of panel orientation, and how time-of-use (TOU) rates factor into the equation.
The Importance of Solar Panel Placement
The way your solar panels are positioned plays a pivotal role in the amount of sunlight they capture, which directly correlates to the energy they can generate. By fine-tuning the angle and direction of your panels, you’re ensuring you harness as much sunlight as possible and boost your energy yield. Traditionally, in the northern hemisphere, panels are positioned southward, but recent studies indicate that westward facing panels could offer superior efficiency under specific circumstances.
Why You Should Consider Westward Solar Panels
Westward solar panels come with a distinct advantage for those homeowners whose electricity usage is relatively lower during the day. Such panels are capable of producing an additional 10% of electricity during the early evening – a prime time for peak energy rates. By installing west-facing panels, you’re making the most of the afternoon sun, mitigating the impact of steep TOU rates, and enhancing your capacity for energy storage.
Understanding TOU Rates and Panel Direction
TOU rates are subject to your location and the time of year, but generally, they tend to charge more for electricity consumed during peak hours. By orienting your solar panels to absorb maximum sunlight during these periods, you can offset the high cost of electricity and reduce reliance on the conventional grid.
Take, for instance, California where the three major utilities have been implementing peak TOU rates between 4-9 PM since late 2017. Homeowners with west-facing solar panels in California can generate more electricity during these high-cost hours, lowering their energy bills and bolstering their energy independence. Historically, peak energy usage occurred between 11 AM and 6 PM, but with the proliferation of solar energy, this peak has shifted to the early evening, as demonstrated by the so-called “duck curve”. The new peak pricing strategy encourages more efficient energy use during these hours.
Optimizing Energy Storage with Westward Panels
Incorporating a battery for storing the electricity generated during daylight hours is another way to maximize your solar power usage. This stored energy comes in handy during peak consumption periods, such as in the evenings. By holding off on tapping into your battery until later in the day, you have an opportunity to profit by selling any surplus energy back to the grid. For example, if the solar panels power your home from 4 PM to 6 PM, and you use the battery from 6 PM to 8 PM, any remaining energy – say, 20 kWh in September – can be sold back to the grid.
By strategically placing your solar panels on the western side of your home, you stand to gain in power production, energy cost savings, and potential revenue from selling surplus energy. By fine-tuning the position and angle of your panels and implementing energy storage, you can extract the maximum benefits from your solar installation. It’s worth noting that while south-facing panels are commonly recommended, westward panels can often prove more efficient, especially if your daytime energy consumption is on the lower side.