solar panels on roof

Are Portland Neighborhoods Too Cloudy for Solar Power?

Knowing when to put solar power to use for your home.

Installing solar panels on your PNW home just takes a little planning. The weather in Portland isn’t nearly as bad as outsiders believe. Although it does get cloudy and cold for much of the fall and winter, sun and warmth never fail to return during the late spring and summer. Of course, our “cloudy season” is apt to worry local homeowners who wonder whether installing a rooftop solar array makes financial sense here. As it turns out, clouds are overrated. You just need to keep a few things in mind to get the most out of your home’s solar panels.

Orientation: South or West?

Several factors contribute to optimal rooftop electricity generation. Directional orientation is one of the most important. Although it might seem logical to point your solar panels south, studies have shown that west-facing panels are actually the most efficient. This is because the sun’s rays tend to be strongest during the afternoon. Other studies have cast doubt on the idea of purely west-facing panels and suggested that a southwest or west-southwest orientation is better.

Angle

Portland is close to the 45th parallel, so it’s farther north than most American cities. This means that the sun’s rays are a bit weaker here. It also means that the sun tends to sit lower in the sky. Accordingly, the angle at which your rooftop panels sit is very important. A seminal study of solar panels in London located above the 50th parallel found that angles of at least 35 degrees allow for optimal generation in northern cities. Shallower angles may not capture the sun’s rays as effectively.

Placement

Of course, every roof is different. Depending on the directional orientation of your house and the presence of obstacles, you may need to adjust the placement of your roof’s panels. Watch out for obstructions like:

• Telephone poles and wires
• Tall trees
• Other buildings
• Cliff faces or retaining walls
• Hills or mountains that may block the sun at certain times of day

Interstate Roofing: Your Source for Roof Installation in Portland, OR, and Vancouver, WA

You don’t have to install rooftop solar panels to put your home’s roof to work in the service of saving money. At Interstate Roofing, we’re proud to offer a wide range of roof installation and repair services that can improve your home’s energy efficiency, sustainability, and physical appearance. Of course, we’re happy to provide advice about solar arrays as well. To learn more about what we can do for your property, give us a call at 503-684-5611 or fill out our online contact form.