Coordinates Basics, How to Align Solar Panels Toward the Sun
Now that you have a solar panel, the next step is to find the best way to align you
panel to optimize the sun light to generate electricity, they are automatic sun trackers
but they are not cheap, if you budget is limited you can optimize your panel orientation
by following these simple steps.
Before we enter in details is better to quickly review some basic concepts about
1- The earth has two movements, one is the rotation around its own vertical axis
responsible for the nights and days, and the other one is the rotation around the
sun that make possible the four season in one year, in 365 days and 6 hours. Every
four years a bisiest year is completed with the adding 6 hours in each year to complete
a year with 366 days.
2- The earth rotation axis is tilted by 23o, 27’ or twenty three degrees and twenty
seven minutes in relation to its translation movement path line.
3- The earth is divided vertically in two equal hemispheres, north and south by a
imaginary line called the equator.
4- The earth rotation axis is tilted in relation to the incident path of the sun
5- The earth translation movement around the sun is slightly elliptic
6- The earth shape is not a perfect sphere is elliptic wider in the equator
6- For the purpose of establishing a system to locate a geographic place in the earth
a coordinates system was created. The Greenwich as the zero reference line or Prime
Meridian was agreed in 1884 in the United States in the hosted International Meridian
7- The horizontal lines are called the latitude lines or “Parallel lateral displacement
lines” and normally is represented by the Greek letter phi “Ø”.
9- The vertical lines are called the longitude lines or “Meridian vertical displacement
lines”. The reference meridian is the Greenwich meridian or 0omeridian and is locatednear the Royal Observatory near London England. From the Greenwich meridian also
called Prime Meridian all other meridian are referenced in degrees. Locations on
the east from this meridian are in the eastern hemisphere, location on the west from
this meridian are in the western hemisphere. The most common symbol to represent
the meridians is the Greek letter lambda “ג”. The meridians lines are referenced
to Greenwich Prime Meridian by degrees.
10- The geographical coordinates are set in angular degrees, each complete circle
around the earth is composed of 360 degrees and each degree is divided in 60 minutes
and each minute in 60 seconds,
11- Two major horizontal circles above and below the equator at + 23o,26’,16” named
Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn at -23o,26’,16”defines the earth band that
receives most of the sun light radiation.
12- The tropics are the maximum distant latitudes north and south from the equator
where the the sunlight hit the earth fully vertically, on the June solstice (June
21 to 22) the sunlight is stronger in the northern hemisphere, but on the December
solstice (Dec 22 to 23) the sunlight is stronger in the Tropic of Capricorn.