Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

What’s Your Angle, Bud?

With support poles at a slight tilt, this has been my only concession to following the sun's lower winter arc.

With support poles at a slight tilt, this has been my only concession to following the sun’s lower winter arc.

Well, I was out admiring the Enterprise again and noticed that the sun at noon was not even remotely perpendicular to the solar panels, which were too close to horizontal to be very efficient. A panel that’s markedly out of position in relation to the sun presents a smaller surface area to it, and captures less light. The limited daylight of the winter sun is bad enough, and so is the inability to physically follow it across the sky. Why waste it further by having the basic panel tilt way off?

I looked up the seasonal data for my latitude, which is just shy of 33 degrees above the equator. Turns out the recommended panel winter angle for my location is about 53 degrees off horizontal, and that’s with a bias toward the top of the sun’s arc, where the sunlight is strongest. I ran outside with the iPad and held it up under one panel, matching its angle. An app called Clinometer HD showed that the panel was at 38 degrees, which is isn’t even appropriate for spring or fall. Oops! Time to try to get the panel angles closer to being right.

A momentary check displays 48 degrees off horizontal - still not there!

A momentary check displays 48 degrees off horizontal – still not there!

Well, oops again. The telescoping poles I use to hold up one end of each panel start like at 5 feet, which with support hardware adds half a foot to that. What’s needed is an extending pole which starts life at 4 feet.  They do exist – just not in my world at present. I was not about to start trying to disassemble and hacksaw a pole just to see if it could be shortened today, so I started moving the bottom end toward the trailer. Unhappily, it went quite a bit in before the panel angle got even close to position. So for the time being, I now have each pole end in a divot, with the “insurance” stake driven into the ground and secured with the pole end’s rope and clip. I’m not sure how much wind pressure this cobbled-up “solution” will take, but I can say that this won’t do, long term.

If you're trying to maximize solar capture, this is quite a difference.

If you’re trying to maximize solar capture, this is quite a difference.

Still, you can imagine the losses a panel mounted flat on an RV’s roof would suffer. Many rooftop adjustables around here don’t have quite the reach to get to the optimum winter angle here, but they’re close enough. The one good thing about this Rube Goldberg system I have is that there’s no need to climb a ladder and stumble around on the roof!

This is what the difference looks like from the street - if there was a street.

This is what the difference looks like from the street – if there was a street.

Advertisements

Single Post Navigation

2 thoughts on “What’s Your Angle, Bud?

  1. So, it was actually a GOOD thing that the roof couldn’t support the panels. Saved you from yourself again? lol Enjoyed the post. Keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply! Note that all first-time comments are moderated, so there will be a delay before it will be posted.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: