Solar panel angle ????





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  1. #1
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    Default Solar panel angle ????

    Some advice please!!

    I killed my trailer's deep cycle battery because I was ignorant/stupid. I didn't do my homework about how to manage a deep cycle battery. I charged it at home and used it till it was flat. More than once. I now know that it was a rookie mistake, but that is how we learn.

    Once a month we go camping at a place without electricity. We use power for a NL 60L twin and 3 LED lights. I have now bought a portable solar kit from Bushpower. It consists of 2 x 80W panels that is hinged together and is joined in paralell. The panels also have foldout legs. The kit also have a Phocos regulator and all the cables , connectors, etc. I also replaced the battery with a Dixon 105ah deep cycle.

    I am a complete noob with regards to solar power. I know that you connect the panels to the regulator and the regulator to the batteries. That's where my "knowledge" ends.

    We usually are out for most of the day, so I won't be tracking the sun with the panels. I have read that if you aren't going to track the sun, that you must place your panels to face North. What does that mean? Must you fold out the legs and let the panels face in a Northerly direction or must you place it flat on the ground with the the top-bottom lying North-South?

    I don't want to just place it on the ground and hope for the best!!! How do you decide on the orientation of the panels? I have used the search function, but either I am using the wrong terms or I just missed it.

    Please help!!
    Last edited by Platjan; 2016/02/27 at 04:07 PM.
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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    If you are not going to be around for the day lay the panels east west on the long axis and lift then up the southern edge by about 8 degrees in Summer and 40 degrees in winter.
    Last edited by Biggles; 2016/02/27 at 04:13 PM.
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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggles View Post
    If you are not going to be around for the day lay the panels east west on the long axis and lift then up the southern edge by about 8 degrees in Summer and 40 degrees in winter.
    Agreed, there are online calculators that you can use and depends on the season and latitude of your location, check it out. It get's really technical but for your purposes it's not going to make a huge difference if you follow Biggles's instructions.
    In most circumstances the 2x 80w panels will do the trick even without worrying too much about angle adjustments during the day or the perfect angle
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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    Thank you Biggles and Piet! That's what I like about the forum - simple advice that works.
    Last edited by Platjan; 2016/02/28 at 10:14 AM.
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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    Followed Piet's advice and went searching for an online calculator.

    In the Southern Hemisphere your panels should point North. Just for reference the latitude (rounded) of some of the cities in SA is:
    Messina 22
    Pretoria 25
    Bloemfontein 29
    Cape Town 33

    Got the following methods from http://www.solarpoweristhefuture.com...r-panels.shtml

    (I just changed the latitude to 25 from their example.)

    Method 1: Quick and Easy (But Less Effective)

    Take your latitude and add 15 degrees for the winter, or subtract 15 degrees for the summer.

    For example: if your latitude is 25 degrees, the angle you want to tilt your panels in the winter is: 25 + 15 = 40 degrees.

    In the summer, it would be: 25 - 15 = 10 degrees.

    Method 2(a): The Better Way (Winter)

    In the winter months, when there's less sun, take your latitude, multiply it by 0.9, and then add 29 degrees.

    For example: if your latitude is 25 degrees, the angle you want to tilt your panels in the winter is: (25 * 0.9) + 29 = 51.5 degrees.

    This is about 12 degrees steeper than the "quick and easy" way! It's also more effective, because you want your panels to be directly facing the sun at mid-day during those short winter days.

    Method 2(b): The Better Way (Summer)

    Take your latitude, multiply it by 0.9, and subtract 23.5 degrees.

    For example: if your latitude is 25 degrees, your panels should be tilted at: (25 * 0.9) - 23.5 = -1 degrees. (Panel actually tilts to the South then!!)

    Method 2(c): The Better Way (Spring & Fall)

    Take your latitude and subtract 2.5 degrees.

    For example: if your latitude is 25 degrees, the best tilt for your panels in the spring & fall is: 25 - 2.5 = 22.5 degrees.
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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    Why not ask Buspower to upgrade your controller for the Steca LCD unit, that way you can see how much power is coming in , it's quicker in the long run, also you can "manage" your power usage far easier , the unit provides much more info on what is being used vs what's coming in

    That's what I did, and I am so glad I did.

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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    Quote Originally Posted by DirtBasher View Post
    Why not ask Buspower to upgrade your controller for the Steca LCD unit, that way you can see how much power is coming in , it's quicker in the long run, also you can "manage" your power usage far easier , the unit provides much more info on what is being used vs what's coming in

    That's what I did, and I am so glad I did.
    Dirtbasher, in hindsight I also should have gone vir the Stecca LCD unit, but I have already mounted the Phocos regulator and used it. It is a basic regulator, but I don't really need more info, but it would be nice to see exactly what was going on.
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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    Have a look on your App Store for an app called Solar Tracker: it automates the process using the GPS and accelerometer in your smart phone. Gives you options like a chosen time period, or all day, or now until end of day, etc.
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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    Is that the one by Nate Madsen?? Thanks for sharing

    Might be worthwhile remembering the formulae, for when you're in the bush with no cellular coverage...
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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    Quote Originally Posted by SerenitySeeker View Post
    Have a look on your App Store for an app called Solar Tracker: it automates the process using the GPS and accelerometer in your smart phone. Gives you options like a chosen time period, or all day, or now until end of day, etc.
    Thanks Russ, just downloaded it. Cost me a whopping R37.99.
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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    Pleasure! Hope it's helpful.
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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    Quote Originally Posted by Die_Alla View Post
    Is that the one by Nate Madsen?? Thanks for sharing.
    That is the one I just downloaded.
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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    Quote Originally Posted by Platjan View Post
    Dirtbasher, in hindsight I also should have gone vir the Stecca LCD unit, but I have already mounted the Phocos regulator and used it. It is a basic regulator, but I don't really need more info, but it would be nice to see exactly what was going on.
    Then perhaps just add a small Watt meter 300-00 odd Rand, I have one on my small battery box.
    It provides Amps, Volts, Watts, Ah, and a scrolling bunch of other data.
    Easy to install, pm me for details

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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    Quote Originally Posted by DirtBasher View Post
    Then perhaps just add a small Watt meter 300-00 odd Rand, I have one on my small battery box.
    It provides Amps, Volts, Watts, Ah, and a scrolling bunch of other data.
    Easy to install, pm me for details
    PM send. Thank you Dirtbasher!
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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    The panels are perpendicular to the sun when a Maglite, face down on the panel, throws no shadow. This is optimum exposure.

    When I'm in camp and battery is low, I adjust the panels every hour or so, using this technique.

    When I'm not there to adjust the panels, I leave them pointing north-ish at the approximate angle I have come to know as more or less what it needs to be.

    You're not losing much by being off 15 degrees (there are graphs, previously posted on this forum). So I don't think it is worth worrying about it too much, or getting TOO technical.

    BTW, with 160W, my battery recharges before 11 am with the panels flat on the Landy's roof. 45 liter Campmaster running as a fridge (2 degrees C) in the Landy. With one 80W panel, it is fully charged by lunch.

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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    Take a golf-tee , with a small blob of prestik and stick it in the centre of the panel .

    If it doesn't cast a shadow you are spot on .
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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    This is an example of the graph I was referring to earlier.

    This is for a specific location (Perth, if I'm not mistaken), but from the y-axis you can see that even 25 degrees from optimum elevation, you're sitting at over 90% efficiency.

    Similar for aximuth. You only need to move your panel once every three or four hours to stay in the 90% zone (the sun moves 15 degrees in one hour).

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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    Quote Originally Posted by PGJ View Post
    Take a golf-tee , with a small blob of prestik and stick it in the centre of the panel .

    If it doesn't cast a shadow you are spot on .
    Best advice just there ^^^ and simple too.


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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    Also use golf tee..works like a charm...
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    Default Re: Solar panel angle ????

    Quote Originally Posted by PGJ View Post
    Take a golf-tee , with a small blob of prestik and stick it in the centre of the panel .

    If it doesn't cast a shadow you are spot on .
    Also received that advice, but was told that is the way to go when you track the sun. I want to set the panels up at 6:00am for the whole day and the Solar Tracker app that Russ sugested seems like my best bet.
    Last edited by Platjan; 2016/03/01 at 04:00 PM.
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