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Maximize Your Solar Energy Production in Alberta With the Right Pitch

Solar in Canada is not only possible; it makes more sense than you think. In fact, a residential solar system installed in Alberta will generate a third more solar energy per annum then the same system in the leading solar country, Germany.

The reason why solar energy systems perform so well in Alberta is due to a combination of solar irradiance, solar isolation, and ambient temperature. By understanding the suns positioning in the sky during the year, and installing your solar panel to the optimum angle, you can harness the full potential of your solar energy system.

Pitch Perfect

Through a number of tests conducted by the Solar Energy Society of Alberta, it was established that the ideal pitch to install solar panels was at latitude (so 51° for Calgary and 53° for Edmonton). This particular angle generated the most energy from the test solar panels on a year round basis both with and without snow clearing.

NAIT solar photovoltaic array – courtesy of Solar Energy Society of Alberta

In reality, however, there are not that many existing residential roofs with 51-53° pitch. Building an elevated racking system to accommodate for this tilt angle might not be worth the extra cost, therefore installing solar panels at an optimum 27-30° mark has proven to be very effective.

Alberta, and in particular Calgary and Edmonton, rates very highly in the nations average solar isolation statistics. With an annual daily average of 4.72 and 4.55 full sun hours respectively, solar energy systems in Calgary will generate an average of 1291 kWh/kW while the same system in Edmonton will produce 1244 kWh/kW.

Annual mean daily global insolation – kWh/m2 or full sun hours (h)
Province Town South-facing vertical tilt=90° South-facing tilt=latitude South-facing tilt=lat+15° South-facing tilt=lat-15°
Alberta Calgary 3.66 4.72 4.48 4.71
Alberta Edmonton 3.61 4.55 4.31 4.56

 

Annual PV potential – kWh/kW
Province Town South-facing vertical tilt=90° South-facing tilt=latitude South-facing tilt=lat+15° South-facing tilt=lat-15°
Alberta Calgary 1003 1291 1228 1290
Alberta Edmonton 989 1244 1181 1247

These figures mean that if you were to install a 5kW solar energy system on your home in Calgary or Edmonton, you could expect your system to generate on average 17kWh per day.

Want to get even more power from your solar energy system?

If you have the option to mount your solar panels on the ground, rather than fixed to your roof, it may be worthwhile investing in a ground mount system to achieve the ideal pitch for your solar panels.

Not only do you have the flexibility to choose the angle that your solar panels are installed at, some ground mount racking systems also enable you to adjust the pitch of your solar panels to accommodate seasonal changes in the sun.

Solar Panels Tracker Alberta

If you opt for a pole ground mount, you may have the option to incorporate a solar tracker into your system to achieve even more production potential. Single axis tracking allows your panels to follow the sun during the day from east to west, while dual axis tracking offers a wider range of movement from east-west and north-south.

All ground mount racking systems have their pros and cons when it comes to cost, maintenance, reliability and efficiency. If you have any questions about the different racking options, or would like to know which solar panel pitch is ideal for your location, please contact us! We are happy to answer any of your questions. No obligation; we just love talking all things solar!