The number of solar panels you have determines the amount of energy your solar power system can generate. The more solar panels you have, the more energy you can store and the cheaper energy becomes. While the basic principle remains the same—the closer solar panels are to each other, the more energy they can produce and storage—there are some factors worth considering before setting up your system. One of them is distance between solar panels.
While ideally, you want to keep the distance as ideal as possible to maximize efficiency, this is not always feasible. Knowing how much of an impact distance has on solar panel efficiency is essential for any homeowner or business looking to install and usage a system.
In this blog, we’ll cover the basics of how far solar panels should be spaced and why it’s important for maximum efficiency. We’ll also cover how to determine the optimal distance for your roof and whether it’s worth it with modern technology like grid inverter or battery storage.
What’s the Optimal Distance Between Solar Panels?
The minimum distance between solar panels is 4 to 7 inches (17.78 cm), which is the size of a row of solar panels on a solar power system. This space allows for frame contraction and expansion with the weather. Additionally, solar panels must have a 12-inch space between them and the edge of the roof to comply with building codes and ensure safety of the array.
The average size of a photovoltaic solar panel is 65 inches (1.65 m) long and 39 inches (0.99 m) wide (165 centimeters to 100 centimeters). To calculate the necessary roof space for a given number of panels, multiply the number of solar panels by the area of a standard solar panel (17.6 square feet (1.64 m²)).
Why is Spacing Important for Solar Panel Efficiency?
- Spacing of solar panels is important because it affects airflow, which can increase the efficiency and improve economics.
- Keeping solar panels a certain distance apart prevents them from pressing against each other, which can cause damage.
- The minimum 4–7 inches between each row of solar panels and 12 inches (30.48 cm) from the edge of the roof to comply with building codes and ensure the safety of the array is vital for efficiency.
- Also, heat produced by the panels can decrease power output, so increased spacing can reduce the amount of heat retained.
Keep in mind that solar panel spacing varies based on the size of the solar power system.
How to Calculate the Right Distance for Your Roof?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer and calculator for the right solar panel spacing, as it will depend on system size, location, and roof type.
But to ballpark a starting point, use the following formula:
System Size = Number of Panels x Area of Standard Panel (in sq ft)
Location = latitude x longitude (+/- 20 miles (32.19 km) due to gridiron effect)
Rooftop Type = Flat Roof or Sloped Roof
Solar panels should be installed at an angle of approximately equal-to your latitude for the maximum output. This is the angle that makes the solar panel maximize its exposure to the sun’s rays, resulting in the best energy output possible.
Even flat roofs with an angle of 10 degrees can still produce around 95% of the maximum output.
Roof design should be considered before installing solar panels, as roofs with slopes between 30 and 40 degrees can produce enough electricity for attractive returns.
Solar panels should be kept far away from trees and bushes to avoid shading and scratching the panels. Wind and rain can degrade performance over time, so shelter from the wind is a great idea when evaluating placement.
How far solar panels should be spaced apart
When solar panels are installed on a roof, it’s important to have the correct spacing between rows to ensure optimal output. Solar panels should have at-least 4-7 inches of space between each row to allow for expansion and contraction. This helps to maximize efficiency by ensuring each panel is able to fully absorb solar energy.
Additionally, solar panels should be at least 12 inches (30.48 cm) away from the edge of the roof to comply with building codes and ensure the safety of the array. Doing so will also help limit potential damage and improve system performance.
Spacing solar panels out can also help increase air flow, which can help keep the system cool and reduce the risk of overheating. However, too much space can increase the likelihood of sunlight hitting solar panels directly, which can cause fine scratches and damage them over time.
Why solar panels need to be spaced far apart
Because solar power is collected by photovoltaic cells when sunlight passes through the solar panels, spacing the panels far apart enables more sunlight to pass through the system. This allows the solar panel to collect more energy, resulting in a higher output of electricity.
The distance between solar panels affects how much energy each panel can collect. If the solar panels are too close together, less sunlight reaches each panel and the output decreases.
The airspace around solar panels helps protect them from rain, snow, and other weather conditions. By spacing solar panels far apart, you can maximize the output of your solar system and make it more efficient.
Disadvantages of using solar panels spaced far apart
The output efficiency of solar panels facing the sun is much lower when they are spaced far apart, so it is essential to keep solar panels as close together as possible to maximize their energy output and minimize production costs.
Solar panels need to occupy more space to produce the same amount of power, so the more solar panels you use, the more space you need. Additionally, solar panels facing north will have a much lower output efficiency than solar panels facing true south.
Solar panels spaced too far apart can cause wiring problems and excessive line loss.
Additionally, solar panels can pose a hazard for people and emergency responders. As solar panels are large and sturdy structures, they can be difficult to access in a disaster situation and could be damaged or broken by strong winds or water. This could cause them to become inoperable and could cut off electricity for residents.
Finally, south-facing roof solar panels have a much lower output efficiency than north-facing solar panels due to the decreased intensity of sunlight at that angle of tilt. To ensure optimal energy production from your solar system, it’s best to consider these factors carefully before deciding on a split angle for your system.
Frequently Asked Questions
How far apart should solar panels be installed on a roof?
When installing solar panels on a roof, you should space them out at least 4–7 inches apart and make sure there is at least 12 inches (30.48 cm) of space between the edge of the roof and the panels. This will ensure the safety of your solar array and keep your home in compliance with building codes.
What are the benefits of installing solar panels closer together?
If you’re looking to save money on your solar energy bill, installing solar panels closer together is one of the best ways to go.
Further spacing of solar modules has the advantage of reducing the amount of space needed for installation. This reduces the amount of time and money needed to set up a solar system. In addition, systems with solar panels placed closer together require fewer panels to produce the same amount of power, meaning you’ll end up spending less on your solar project overall.
Additionally, closer spacing of solar modules can reduce the cost of the system. This is because fewer panels are required for the same output. So, in the long run, you’ll save money by installing solar panels closer together.
What are the disadvantages of installing solar panels closer together?
When installing solar panels, it’s important to keep in mind a few key points.
For starters, solar panels should be installed at least 4–7 inches apart to account for the expansion and contraction of the system due to changing weather conditions. This will help to ensure optimal efficiency and output.
Furthermore, installing solar panels too close together can reduce energy production by 30%. This is because panels facing north will produce 30% less energy than those facing south.
In addition, solar panels that are installed too close together may not comply with building codes, which could pose a safety risk. Lastly, reduced roof space may also be a result of solar panel installation close to each other.
To summarize, solar power systems work best when the solar panels are as far as possible from your home’s windows and walls. It’s also a good idea to keep the system aesthetically pleasing by placing it where it can be easily seen from the road or in an open area. If you follow these tips, your roof will get maximum exposure to solar energy and your system will be more efficient. However, if you’re still not getting the results you want, get in touch with a solar energy expert. They’ll guide you through the process of choosing the right solar panel system for your roof and help you get started right away!