Solar Panels Vertical Or Horizontal (Which Orientation Is Best!)

Adding solar panels to your home is an investment that pays off over time. When you’re considering this upgrade, you might find yourself wondering which orientation is better. Should you choose vertical or horizontal?

Solar panels can produce the same amount of power regardless of orientation. Still, you should be strategic with placement. There are pros and cons to both vertical and horizontal layouts.

Some things you need to consider include:

  • the benefits of horizontal orientation solar panels
  • how vertical orientation can benefit your solar panels
  • your roof type for solar panel installation
  • what angle gets the most sunlight

There’s no difference in the output solar panels produce regarding orientation. But there are external factors you’ll want to take into consideration.

Solar panels on a house roof fitted vertical and horizontal 1
Solar panels on a house roof fitted vertical and horizontal 1

What to Consider with Solar Panel Orientation

Both horizontal and vertical solar panels look nice. They’ll both produce plenty of power for your needs. Some companies recommend a particular method of installation.

This choice depends on the path of the sun, your roof’s pitch, and other factors. Consider your options entirely before you install the solar panels.

Why Horizontal Solar Panels Work

If you have a flat roof, you’ll want to install horizontal panels. This orientation keeps the panels flush against the roof. Vertical panels would stick up higher. 

They would look strange against a flat roof and be at a more extreme angle. Usually, 10 to 40-degrees is the best option.

Weather is something to consider before installing horizontal solar panels. If you live in a climate that gets a lot of snow, you don’t want it sitting on the panels until it melts.

In that case, vertical solar panels would be a better choice because the snow will slide down the panel.

Similarly, if trees that shed leaves or acorns surround your house, you might prefer vertical solar panels. The debris rolls right off of these panels, while it will pile up on horizontal panels.

Even taking trees out of the equation, dirt will build up quickly on horizontal solar panels.

If you install horizontal panels in this type of situation, make sure you clean them off often.

Otherwise, the debris might build up on the panels and restrict how much energy they’re able to produce.

See also: Mounting Solar Panels: A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Installation

Why Vertical Solar Panels Work

It’s efficient to install solar panels vertically because it gives you more space to work with. Considering the size, you can fit more panels along the railing.

This keeps your installation costs lower. The size, along with a vertical placement, also allows you to utilize more panels. 

This layout means you can install more panels at a lower cost. You’ll recoup the expense quickly since you have more panels soaking up sunlight.

It’s not imperative to install all your panels the same way. If you have space to fit a few extra horizontally, you should do it. It won’t affect your vertical panels in any way.

You’ll get additional power from these panels. Remember that the horizontal ones will take up more space. They also require more hardware to install.

How Your Roof Type Impacts Solar Panel Orientation

The way you position your solar panels can be an aesthetic choice. There are many reasons to choose one method of installation over the other.

You want to make sure it works well with your roof type. You also want to maximize the amount of sunlight your panels receive.

How to Find the Best Method of Installation

You’ll install solar panels on your roof rafters. When you install panels vertically, they use fewer roof rafters to mount.

This cuts down on the roof space covered with solar panels. It also decreases the cost of installation.

Consider the ways you can fit 12 panels on your roof. With the vertical orientation, you can install two rows of six solar panels because they fit in a compact area.

Horizontal panels take up more space, so you’ll most likely need to make three rows of four panels to get 12 on your roof.

It also takes more rafters, rows, and bolts to install horizontal solar panels. Overall, that orientation can cost you more money, even if you still have the space for the same amount of panels that produce the same amount of power.

It’s possible to maintain a longer row of solar panels when you install them vertically across your roof. So not only are you able to fit more into place, you’re not adding as many steel bolts into your roof rafters.

Still, you can install solar panels securely.

If your roof is on a slant, then you’ll want to install them in a vertical or portrait orientation. This allows you to fit more panels into the same area. 

How to Capture the Most Sunlight

The sun shifts in the sky throughout the day, and the position changes with the seasons. Therefore you want to position your solar panels, so they capture the most light. 

In the Northern Hemisphere, your solar panels should face south to get the most sunlight. In the Southern Hemisphere, the panels should orient towards the true north. This gives all panels the most sunlight as the sun travels near the equator.

Depending on your area’s sun exposure, installing solar panels in a horizontal orientation might be your best option. They’ll get more sunlight throughout the day, producing more energy.

However, having flat panels isn’t as crucial if you get a lot of sunlight bounced back from clouds. You can have vertical panels tilted at an angle, so the diffused light reflects off of clouds onto the solar panels.

No matter what, you want to find the orientation that provides your house with the most energy. If this means you should install solar panels horizontally, you should try it. You might prefer the look of vertical panels, but you want to get the most power possible.

Regardless of the look of the panels, you want to install them, so you get the most power from them.

While a vertical orientation saves money in installation, they provide the same amount of energy as horizontal panels.

Ensure that going solar is the right choice for you. After installation, make sure you’re getting the most out of your solar panels.

Keep them clean if you notice dirt or debris on them. Taking care of your solar panel’s guarantees they’ll benefit you greatly.


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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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