Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Optimal Angle of Inclination for Fixed Solar Panels/Collectors


School of Engineering


Padnos College of Engineering and Computing

Date Range



In the use of solar energy as a source of renewable energy a practical question is commonly encountered. What is the optimal angle of inclination for fixed solar panels? This is applicable for both arrays of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels as well as for flat plate solar collectors. It is quite common practice to use a couple of rules of thumb that state the following: (a) the panels/collectors should be facing south (for the northern hemisphere locations), and (b) the optimal angle of inclination will be in the range of the latitude of the location . In this paper we discuss a computer program developed to verify (b) for south facing fixed solar panels/collectors. The program developed can generate theoretical solar irradiation available for a given location in the northern hemisphere on a clear day taking into account the attenuation effects in the atmosphere by incorporating the concept of air mass. It can also be used to retrieve solar irradiation data from well established databases such as the National Solar Radiation Data Base (NSRDB) accessible via the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Both approaches have been tested and weekly, monthly and annual optimal angles of inclination have been generated for selected locations. This paper will discuss the details of the algorithm and databases used and the results obtained. How this program is going to be used in an undergraduate course titled Alternative Energy Systems and Applications will also be discussed.

Conference Name

ASME 2011 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition

Conference Location

Denver, Colorado

This document is currently not available here.