Let’s face it, electricity can be confusing. Electrons scooting through copper wires somehow illuminate your closet and charge your iPad. Things can get even more intimidating when you add solar panels into the mix, and you may think you don’t know enough about electricity to consider investing in a solar array. That’s not at all true! Here are four simple considerations that can help you understand solar energy and whether it’s a good choice for your home.

1. Does your roof face southward?

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, but most of the time in the Northern hemisphere, sunshine is coming from the south. If you want to install a solar array, it would be best if you have a large roof that faces true south. Your azimuth — a fancy word that describes which direction your roof points — doesn’t have to be perfectly south. There are a lot of high-performing system that face to eastward or westward. Punch your address into Solmetric’s Roof Azimuth Tool if you’d like to figure out the exact orientation of your roof. The closer to 180 degrees due south, the better!

2. Do you get enough sunlight in Bozeman? 

You’ve got to have sunshine in order to make electricity from it! Below, we’ve got information about average peak sun hours for Bozeman, Montana. December and January are pretty bleak, with just about 2 hours of good solar energy. But June and July offer seven solid solar hours, allowing you to potentially cover your electricity bill and also make up for the winter darkness.

3. Does your property have any shading or obstacles to solar panels?

We know now that Bozeman offers a good amount of sunlight, but you should also think specifically about your potential solar space. How much sun would make it down to the panels. Is there a strand of pines shading a lot of the sun? Is your roof covered in vents that would be shady and limit the number of panels installed? Is your roof a nice flat plane that would look great with a solar array on top? Basically, you don’t want any objects in the way of installing the panels or the sunshine that zips down to them!

4. Is your roof tilted toward the sun?

Another term that goes along with that fancy azimuth word is ‘tilt angle.’ Your solar panels perform best when they are tilted perfectly perpendicular to the sun. Tilt angle is the angle at which your panels will sit — it’s no good if it’s zero degrees and flat or 90 degrees and perfectly vertical, because your panels don’t really face the sun. Somewhere between 25 and 45 degrees will be just fine, allowing your panels to face toward the shining sun for most of those peak sun hours. Your roof probably fits within these measurements, but to be sure, you can compare your roof to the common measurements shown below.

Solar roof tilt

We’ve installed a lot of successful solar systems in Bozeman, so it’s likely that we can make your solar idea a reality. To make sure that your brainchild performs optimally, consider these points we’ve listed, and then contact us if you’d like us to take a closer look and start designing your system.