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    Are Those Solar Panels Facing the Wrong Direction?

    By By Patrick J. Kiger National Geographic News
    November 23, 2013, 4:09:41 AM EST

    The following is an excerpt from National Geographic.

    Conventional wisdom says that if you put solar panels on your roof in the Northern Hemisphere, you should point them within 30 degrees of true south to generate the most energy in the course of a year. But a new study by Pecan Street Research Institute, an Austin, Texas-based research and development organization, suggests that most people may do better at covering their own electrical use and reducing stress on utility grids during summertime peak demand periods if they aim the panels westward instead. (See related quiz: What You Don’t Know About Solar Power.”)


    Though the study has not been released publicly, Pecan Street provided a copy to National Geographic News. It analyzed 50 homes in the Austin area, looking not just at the amount of electricity generated by the panels, but at the impact on homeowners’ electricity use and the utility grid during periods of summer peak electrical demand, which generally occur between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. (See related post: “Solar Researchers Dig Deeper Into Snow Issue.”)

    The study found that west-facing solar systems reduced the amount of electricity that homeowners needed to draw from the grid during summer peak demand by 65 percent. Homes with the conventional true-south orientation, in comparison, achieved a 54 percent reduction.

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