Fixed Tilt Non-Tracking Solar Panel
The fixed tilt non-tracking solar panel seen here is the simplest and least expensive solar panel mount.
This type of mount remains fixed in place, and does not track the sun across the sky during the day, and usually faces towards the southern sky at an angle that is equal to the latitude of the location of the panel.
Why does it need to face towards the southern sky when you are in the Northern Hemisphere? Because of the tilt of the earth. The tilt of the earth is 23.5 degrees on it’s axis, so the angle of the sun at noon will be directly above only if you are at the equator, and the further you travel to the North, the further the angle of the sun at noon will be towards the Southern Hemisphere.
Why should the tilt of a fixed mount be equal to the latitude? Well, because the axis of the earth is tilted at 23.5 degrees, the rule of thumb is that the angle of the sun in the sky at noon to the southern horizon around the vernal and autumnal equinox will be 90 degrees minus the latitude of the location in the Northern Hemisphere. And during the winter months in the northern hemisphere the angle of the sun in the sky at noon will be about 90-latitude-23.5 degrees. And in the summer months 90-latitude+23.5 degrees.
So, if you never plan to change the angle of your fixed mount solar panel, an angle that is equal to your latitude is an efficient angle. And, if desired you can change the angle of the fixed mount in the winter and the summer. In the summer you can tilt it higher to account for the higher sun angles – the rule of thumb is to change it up to 15 degrees higher. Or you could adjust it lower in the winter months when the sun stays lower in the sky and closer to the Southern horizon throughout the day. So, you can adjust it up to 15 degrees lower.
Ideally, you would have the tilt be equal to 15 degree less than your latitude during summer months and 15 degrees higher than your latitude during winter months for higher efficiencies. You can manually change the tilt as often as you want for more efficiency, but a fixed tilt mount is usually not moved often, if at all.
Here is a diagram and explanation of how the Fixed Tilt Non-Tracking Solar Panel Works:
To learn more about the other types of solar panels available you can visit our Types of Solar Panels page which highlights the three most common types of Solar Panel Mounts.