How to get the best out of your solar panels

Congratulations to the first batch of the Solar Relief Package recipients. If you’re installing your solar panels yourself the next challenge is to install the panels for optimum performance. Now your panels are stationary, the only problem is the sun has to race from east to west every single day.

Solar panels work best when the sun is perpendicular (at 90 degrees) to the rays of sunlight. But since the sun has a problem staying put you will have to re-adjust your panels every 4 minutes to keep performance at its performance optimum. 

But that is impractical. Placing your panels in the right direction and angle would ensure te convert maximum energy. Two things you need to set correctly are the direction and tilt of your panels.

Direction (Azimuth angle)

Energy from the sun travels in a straight line. Your panels would capture more energy if they face the sun directly (90° to the rays of sunlight).

The general rule is, in the northern hemisphere, set your panels to face the true south (the true south is quite different from the magnetic south) and vice versa. Nigeria lies in the northern hemisphere just above the equator, so your solar panels should face the true south.

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Tilt angle

The geographical latitude of your current location determines the tilt angle to which you place your panels. A simple rule of thumb is to set your panels’ tilt angle equal to your geographical latitude. That means the closer you are to the equator te more it should face up.

Cities in NigeriaLatitude
Aba05°10’N
Abeokuta07°03’N
Abuja09°05’N
Agades/Agadez16°58’N
Air18°30’N
Akure07°15’N
Arlit19°00’N
Azare11°55’N
Azbine/Air18°30’N
Bajoga10°57’N
Bama11°33’N
Baro08°35’N
Bauchi10°22’N
Bena11°20’N
Benin City06°20’N
Benue07°48’N
Bida09°03’N
Bilma18°50’N
Birni Nkonni13°55’N
Birnin Kebbi12°32’N
Biu10°40’N
Bosso13°43’N
Boultoum14°45’N
Burutu05°20’N
Calabar04°57’N
Dosso13°00’N
Duku10°43’N
Enugu06°30’N
Fachi18°06’N
Famale14°33’N
Filingue14°21’N
Funtua11°30’N
Gashaka07°20’N
Gashua12°54’N
Gaya11°52’N
Geidam12°57’N
Gombe10°19’N
Gumel12°39’N
Gusau12°12’N
Hadejia12°30’N
I-n-Gall16°51’N
Ibadan07°22’N
Ife0°30’N
Ijebu-Ode06°47’N
Ikare07°32’N
Ilesha07°37’N
Ilorin08°30’N
Iwo07°39’N
Jega12°15’N
Jos09°53’N
Kaduna10°30’N
Kafanchan09°40’N
Kainji Res.10°01’N
Kano12°02’N
Katsina13°00’N
Kaffi08°55’N
Kontagora10°23’N
Kumo10°01’N
Lafia08°30’N
Lagos06°25’N
Lokoja07°47’N
MadaMa22°0’N
Maiduguri12°0’N
Makurdi07°43’N
Maradi13°29’N
Minna09°37’N
Mubi10°18’N
Nguigmi14°20’N
Nguru12°56’N
Niamey13°27’N
Numan09°29’N
Offa08°13’N
Ogbomosho08°01’N
Onitsha06°06’N
Oshogbo07°48’N
Oturkpo07°16’N
Owo07°10’N
Oyo07°46’N
Port Harcourt04°40’N
Potiskum11°39’N
Sapele5°50’N
Sokoto13°2’N
Tanout14°50’N
Uyo5°1’N
Warri5°30’N
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The tilt angle is not as important as the azimuth, a misalignment of 15 represents very little loss in energy. Your panels should be placed where they can get maximum sunlight. Ensure that nothing casts a shadow on your panels as you need 100% solar radiation. 

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