Solar Panel Tilting Mechanism (Motorized Kits + Diy)

Tilting solar panels can increase their output, so they become more efficient. As a result, they produce more electricity, increasing their value and making your investment worthwhile. However, manually tilting the solar panels every day can get old fast.

This is where motorized solar panels come into play. You can tilt solar panels with a push of a button without needing any ladders or tools.

Motorized tilt kits can seem confusing, but there are only a couple of things to consider if you’re looking into buying them:

  • What a motorized solar panel tilt kit is
  • Using title kits
  • Tilt kit options
  • Tilting for RVs and vans

Read on to learn if a motorized solar panel tilt kit is suitable for you.

Solar panels connected to a tilting motor

What Is a Motorized Solar Panel Tilt Kit?

A solar panel tilt kit is a kit you can use to make your solar panels capable of tilting so that they can increase their efficiency. A motorized version of this kit puts the tilting system on a motor so that you can operate it remotely.

A remote operating system means that you don’t need to tilt it by hand, so one doesn’t need to access the solar panels to do this. It’s beneficial if the solar panels are in an inconvenient area, like roofs.

However, this also means the system has many moving parts requiring maintenance and repair. As with any electrical system, it needs to be maintained and kept in good repair to operate optimally. 

However, this can occur at the same time as maintenance on the solar panels themselves.

Another boon is when the solar panels need to be put down because of inclement weather, you don’t need to climb to the roof, possibly in the inclement weather, to put the panels down. Instead, you can safely do it from the safety of a house or porch.

The Difference Between a Motorized and Non-Motorized Tilt Kit

A non-motorized solar panel tilt kit or a manual solar panel tilt kit is cheaper and easier to install than motorized tilt kits. However, You must tilt the solar panels manually, so if the solar panels are on a roof, you must climb up there with tools to put them down properly.

In general, there are two times when the tilt of solar panels needs to be adjusted. First, if bad weather, such as high winds, thunderstorms, or snowy weather, is predicted, the solar panels need to be put down to avoid damage.

And second, when the season changes and the tilt angle needs to be adjusted to maximize efficiency. It means you’ll change the tilt at least once every four months, more if bad weather is predicted.

See also: What is a Solar Tracker? Understanding Its Functionality and Benefits

Is It Worth Tilting Solar Panels?

While it can depend on your situation, in general, tilting your solar panels maximizes their value and efficiency, increasing their output without too much expense.

However, there are many things to look out for before committing to tilt your solar panels.

What Is the Best Orientation for Solar Panels? 

For one, you must decide on the orientation and arrangement of your solar panels. For example, the solar panels should be tilted to the south in the winter in the Northern Hemisphere or the north in Southern Hemisphere. Next is the arrangement. 

Once tipped, no solar panel should cast shade onto another. Else there’s no point in tilting the panels. So tilting isn’t suitable for tightly packed arrays.

Next, you can get the same electricity from tilting by adding more solar panels to your array. Adding one extra panel to every three you have should produce the same electricity as tilting your panels.

Ultimately, it comes down to your situation. If you want to maximize the solar panels’ output and they’re in an excellent arrangement to do so, tilting is a superb option. However, if you’re planning your array, you should weigh the cost of a tilting system and install more solar panels.

How Much Difference Do Tilting Solar Panels Make?

Tilting can increase a solar panel’s output by 33%. However, this is highly reliant on the time of year. Tilting is more effective in the winter as the sun sits lower in the atmosphere, not striking as much surface as during the summer months.

In general, during the summer or in an equatorial zone, the sun sits directly overhead, meaning there’s not much point to tilting panels as they get the full sun just laying down.

The output does increase in the spring and fall, but not as much as in winter, which is where tilting solar panels shine.

While your numbers and efficiency will vary with the seasons and individual panels, tilting will help to increase your efficiency somewhat, especially in the winter.

Tilting solar panel on the front of modern houses

RV Automatic Tilting Solar Panels

You can install a motorized solar panel tilt kit for arrays attached to RVs and even vans. A motorized system has even more utility on a vehicle than on a home, as moving vehicles must have their angles adjusted constantly, and you must put the panels down when the car is in motion.

Since vehicles need to tilt their solar panels more, it only makes sense to have a motorized system. Otherwise, you’d have to climb onto the roof constantly to adjust the panels.

How Do You Calculate the Optimal Tilt for Your Solar Panels?

Calculating the angle of the panels can seem daunting, but there’s an easy method to do it. You need to subtract fifteen from your latitude in the summer and add fifteen to your latitude in the winter.

However, there’s a more accurate method. However, it requires some calculations. First, you multiply your latitude by 0.9, subtract by 23.5 in the summer and add 29 in the winter. 

It gives you a far more efficient angle for your solar panels than the first method. However, if you’re in a vehicle and leaving the day next, energy efficiency shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

Can You DIY a Solar Panel Tilt Mount?

Yes, you can install a motorized solar panel tilt kit yourself if you’d like. Doing this does require some electrical and solar panel knowledge, but in general, if you can install your solar panel array, you can install a motorized tilt kit.

If you’re highly confident in your mechanical and engineering skills, you can even build the kit from scratch, finding your actuator and brackets compatible with tilting solar panels yourself.

However, if you aren’t that confident in your DIY skills, it may be prudent to order the kit as a whole.

SolaRVector Motorized Tilt Kits

SolaRVector is the most popular option for motorized solar panel tilt kits at the moment, and they sell tilting kits for houses and vehicles. However, once they ship the equipment to you, you must install it yourself.

While they provide detailed instructions, you can also hire a professional to install it. Doing this might be the wiser choice if you’re having trouble understanding the instructions.

Moreover, while they are the most popular option for motorized solar panel tilt kits, they aren’t the only ones available. Many manufacturers sell their own versions of motorized tilt kits specialized for their solar panels. 

These kits often get built for the solar panels they produce and can make installations much easier with parts that are already customized.

What Motorized Solar Panel Tilt Kits Have

While each different kit can have other parts, they tend to have similar features and required components, which may help you understand the installation process and how the panels are tilted.

Keep in mind that putting everything together can be highly complicated, and these are just the bare minimum to tilt kits, the essential parts and features. 

Basic tilt kits have many more components depending on the type and where the equipment will be used, at home or on vehicles.

However, in general, all motorized tilt kits come in three parts:

  • The brackets holding the solar panel to the surface
  • The actuator that lifts the solar panel (often contains the computer component)
  • The rotation between the frames allows the solar panel to tilt.

Solar Panel Tilting Brackets

The brackets are the lift frame and securely fasten the solar panel to the surface to which it is attached. Everything is attached to the brackets, the solar panel, actuator, rotation pin, and whatever else the kit might have. 

Frames need to be sturdy and capable of folding flat so that you can place down the solar panel.

You can make your brackets by buying them from hardware stores and adjusting them to your needs. However, you can also buy racks specifically for solar panels that don’t need much adjusting. 

Ultimately, it depends on the manufacturer of your solar panels and whether they make them.

Solar Panel Tilt Actuator

The actuator is what lifts the solar panels into the air. It’s the motorized portion that you can frequently activate via remote. It needs access to power, so there needs to be room for cables.

Not a problem if you’re building from a kit, but vital if you’re designing from scratch.

Once the actuator is powered, it lifts the solar panel. Different actuators have different functions, fancier ones being capable of being programmed to go to specific heights, which is vital if you want to adjust the degree the solar panel sits without moving the actuator mount.

The actuator is the most sophisticated component, and you usually have to order it. Without extremely specialized actuators, it’s impossible to build the actuators needed for a motorized solar panel tilt kit.

Rotation Pin

The rotation pin links the bracket that holds the solar panel and the frame secured on the surface together. It allows the rotation in the panel that allows the panel to tilt up and down. 

The bottom bracket has the bottom of the actuator, the top has the top of the actuator, and the rotation pin acts as the hinge it swings on.

While kits usually come with their rotation pins, it isn’t difficult to craft your own. Just make sure the pin can withstand the solar panel’s weight and the pinching between the two brackets. It should be sturdy but allow the brackets to swing without issue.

Should You Tilt Your Solar Panels?

Tilting solar panels isn’t for everyone. They require upkeep and maintenance, and You can generate the same amount of electricity simply by adding more panels. 

However, tilting solar panels becomes worth it when you want your solar panels to generate more electricity without buying more.

Powered Solar Panel Tilt

Motorized tilting kits are far more convenient than manual ones as the panels can be put up or down without climbing to handle the panels themselves, creating potentially dangerous situations. 

Moreover, the convenience is well suited to vehicles that need to constantly put solar panels up and down as they move locations.

If you’re capable of installing solar panels yourself, you’re capable of installing the motorized tilting system yourself, saving you installation costs. Knowledgeable individuals can even create their motorized kits to put together and install.

Will a Motorized Solar Panel Tilt Make a Difference?

Ultimately, it all comes down to what you need. For example, suppose you can add a couple more panels and avoid tilting systems altogether, then it’s an excellent way to avoid the question altogether. 

However, If you want to get more out of the solar panels you have now, tilting is perfect. 

Tilting maximizes your solar panel’s efficiency and helps you get more electricity during spring, fall, and winter. Motorized tilting kits are far more convenient and safer than manual kits, but they come with higher price tags and more complex installations. 

However, it is undoubtedly worth it for vehicles that often move as the panels constantly need to be put up and down to move.

While you can create your own motorized solar panel tilt kit, you can also buy them online and hire a professional to install it, which means you don’t need much technical knowledge to install the panels.

However, if you have the technical expertise, you can install the tilt kit yourself.


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Elliot has 20+ years of experience in renewable technology, from conservation to efficient living. His passion is to help others achieve independent off-grid living.

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