Solar panels are starting to show up everywhere, and that’s great! More solar panels means more solar panel owners, and many new or novice solar panel owners have important questions about using their solar panels safely and effectively. In this article, we’ll discuss one of those important questions.
Can you mount solar panels upside down? While you can mount solar panels upside down, and while people have done it before, you should probably avoid mounting solar panels upside down unless the manufacturer specifically instructs you to do so.
To put all of this into perspective for you, this article is devoted to letting you know all about mounting solar panels upside down, including why you can, but the reasons why you probably shouldn’t. Time to get one step closer to generating solar power!
All About Mounting Solar Panels
It’s helpful to know a little background about mounting solar panels before understanding why mounting solar panels upside down isn’t the best idea. Let’s jump into the basics of mounting and placing solar panels; then let’s jump into the good stuff: mounting solar panels upside down.
The basics of mounting solar panels
Most often, solar panels need to be mounted. Therefore, they come with mounts. Solar mounts are essentially frames or racks that are designed to hold solar panels in place.
Solar mounts will differ depending on the type of mounting you need or want to do with your solar panels. There are three main methods of mounting solar panels:
- Roof mounting
- Ground mounting
- Pole mounting
Mounting solar panels on roofs
Mounting solar panels on roofs is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: solar panels are mounted on the roof of a home or business.
Mounting solar panels on roofs is a common and desirable option for mounting solar panels, as it’s more out of the way, not as easy to see, and it’s an optimal place for sun exposure. Roofs are one of the places solar panels may be mounted upside down.
Mounting solar panels on the ground
Solar panel ground mounts can hold a number of solar panels and are fixed right in the ground of a property. Ground mounts for solar panels may have a fixed direction in which they sit all year long, or they may be adjustable to get the panels in the direction of optimal sunlight.
Mounting solar panels on poles
Solar panels can also be mounted on poles. Poles are fixed into the ground, and a mount frame for the solar panels sits on top of the pole. This lifts the solar panels above the ground.
Poles can often be six feet tall or more, which saves more ground space than ground mounting solar panels does.
Solar panel placement
Like mounting systems, solar panel placement is an important factor in using solar panels. Understanding solar panel placement can also help you understand more about mounting solar panels upside down and why it isn’t optimal.
When it comes to solar panel placement, orientation, direction and angle matter.
For example, solar panels will generate the most power when sun rays hit its surface perpendicularly. This is part of their orientation.
Additionally, there’s a rule for solar panel direction depending on the hemisphere you’re in: in the northern hemisphere, solar panels should face true north; in the southern hemisphere, solar panels should face true south.
These are considered to be the best directions because the panels will receive direct sunlight exposure throughout the day.
When it comes to the angle of solar panels, there’s also a good general rule of thumb. In order for a solar panel to produce the most energy, its angle should be set equal to its geographical latitude.
Mounting solar panels upside down: why you can, but probably shouldn’t
Now that you know more about mounting solar panels and placing solar panels, you can better understand some of the reasons why it’s not the best choice to mount solar panels upside down. First things first, you can mount solar panels upside down; it’s been done before. Furthermore, manufacturers of solar panels probably wouldn’t tell you that you can’t mount them upside down (they might, though, so it’s important to check).
However, unless a manufacturer or installer of solar panels specifically instructs you to mount them upside down, you probably shouldn’t. There’s a pretty good reason for this.
Water can be damaging to solar panels that are mounted upside down
The reason you should avoid mounting your solar panels upside down unless absolutely necessary or instructed has to do with cables and water runoff.
There will be rain, snow, and other precipitation that will undoubtedly get on or near the solar panels as they’re outside and exposed to the elements.
The upright (perpendicular) mounting position of the solar panels allows the cables connected to the solar panels to face down. That way, water runs down, off and away from the cables instead of pooling around the entry of the cables and junction boxes.
Sure, it’s still possible to have your cables facing downward and to avoid water pooling around your cables and junction boxes with solar panels that are mounted upside down.
However, avoiding mounting solar panels upside down gives you that extra degree of protection against water damage to cables and junction boxes.
Tips For Mounting Solar Panels Safely and Effectively
Clearly it’s pretty important to mount solar panels the correct way. It’s also really important to mount solar panels safely. If you’re planning on getting solar panels and need to mount them, keep these tips for mounting solar panels into consideration.
Tip #1: Read your manufacturer’s instructions and manual
Let’s be honest – we often skip reading the fine print or the instructions manual when we purchase something new. We can chalk that down to human nature and being excited to have a new certain product.
In this case, though, don’t let human nature get the best of you! Make sure to always read your manufacturer’s instructions and manual(s) for anything that has to do with your solar panels, solar equipment and mounts.
This is especially crucial if you plan on attempting to install and mount your solar panels yourself.
Tip #2: Have a professional install and mount your solar panels
Maybe you don’t want to hand the job of installing and mounting your solar panels over to the professionals, but you should really consider it!
A professional solar installer will go through all the motions needed to get your solar panels up and running. They’ll prep your roof or other area you plan on mounting solar panels, put in all the electrical wiring needed, install the racking and mounts, and place your panels into their positions.
Tip #3: Thoroughly consider where you want to mount your solar panels
Sure, there are three main places solar panels are typically mounted. That being said, pay special attention to and thoroughly consider where you want to mount your solar panels.
Solar panels are generally warrantied for 25 years. Are you considering areas to mount your solar panels that will be okay for a long amount of time? Do you plan on moving, changing your home, doing renovations, or any other changes?
Take all of these things into consideration before actually mounting your solar panels. They can (luckily) stick with you for a long time!
Title image by Oregon Department of Transportation