Often we hear that people are worried that their roof is not the perfect pitch or orientation for solar and then we are asked to quote for tilt frames.
Do they make sense?
Well the answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no and depends on a few factors such as;
When do you consume more power, winter or summer, afternoon or morning?
Generally speaking solar panels will produce 2 to 3 times more power on a summer day than a winter day and they perform better when they are at right angles to the sun. If you consume a lot more power in the summer than the winter it actually might make sense for your panels to be flat when the sun is directly over the top of them.
How much room do you have for solar panels?
If you have room for more panels on your roof then you might find it cheaper to install a few more panels on a flatter surface than the cost and muck around of installing tilt frames.
Do you require council approval for tilt frames? And if so, will they need an engineering report?
If the answer is yes, you can expect some delays and additional costs for this – lets call it 2 months and $500 – $1000.
How much extra do tilt frames cost?
Let’s look at a 20 panel solar system as an example. The cost of the tilt frame kit and additional time taken to install it would be approx $1,000 and when you allow for council approval and engineering costs would be closer to $2,000.
Here are some examples of how just 2 extra panels will make more than enough difference for most system
20 panels @ 30 degrees on tilt frames facing North – 7,843 kWhours per year
22 panels @ 5 degrees facing North – 8,351 kWhours per year
22 panels @ 20 degrees – 11 panels East and 11 panels West – 7,762 kWhours per year
You will notice that the main difference is the slightly lower output in Winter when panels are flatter or facing East / West.
Over the years panel prices have fallen making it cheaper to install more panels. Years ago you would only put panels facing North. First of all East / West became the new North. Now South and everywhere else is the new East / West. So panel away. Just make sure you are advised of your estimated output based on your roof.
In conclusion, its my opinion that in most circumstances we do not need tilt frames to optimise a solar system. It’s better off to spend the extra for an additional 10% – 15% more solar panels. In the cases above the customer saves approx $2,000 in cost of tilt frames vs the cost of 2 additional solar panels (approx $400)
If you have any questions or would like us to prepare you a complimentary solar roof design, please feel free to call NRG on 1300 858 160.