Harnessing Winter's Sun: Optimising Solar Panel Positioning for Maximum Energy Production in the UK

Harnessing Winter's Sun: Optimising Solar Panel Positioning for Maximum Energy Production in the UK

  • George Dobritoiu

Winter is a season where sunlight might seem scarce, especially in a country like the UK with a higher latitude. Yet, even in the depth of winter, sunlight is still a viable source of renewable energy. The key lies in correctly positioning and optimising solar panels to make the most of the winter sun.

Understanding Solar Angles in Winter

The sun's trajectory changes with each season. In winter, it follows a lower path across the sky, resulting in less direct sunlight due to the lower altitude angle. The azimuth angle, however, widens as the sun appears to move from southeast to southwest across the sky. Understanding these changes can guide the winter positioning of solar panels.

Optimal Positioning

In the winter, given that the sun remains lower in the sky, solar panels in the UK should have a steeper tilt angle. This positioning allows the panels to face the sun more directly, capturing as much of the limited sunlight as possible.

A widely-accepted rule of thumb for the UK is to set the tilt angle at your latitude plus 15 degrees during winter. For most UK locations, with latitudes ranging between 50 to 60 degrees, a tilt angle between 65 to 75 degrees would be optimal for winter.

However, this recommendation may not be practical for all solar installations. If increasing the tilt angle is not possible due to structural limitations or regulations, consider removing any potential obstructions like snow or shadows, as these could significantly affect energy production.

Regular Maintenance and Monitoring

Winter requires increased attention towards solar panel maintenance. Snowfall or frost can obstruct the panels, and therefore regular cleaning is necessary. Make sure to use suitable equipment and follow proper procedures when cleaning your panels, as they can be fragile.

Solar panels should also be checked for any possible shade from trees or buildings, as the sun's lower path could increase the likelihood of shadows. Using tools like solar pathfinders or sun eye devices can help assess potential shading issues.

Local Regulations and Considerations

Whilst optimising your solar panels for winter energy production, remember to adhere to local regulations and building codes. Some areas in the UK may restrict the tilt, size, or location of solar panel installations. Always consult local authorities or a solar installation expert to ensure your setup complies with all regulations.


Winter presents its unique challenges when it comes to solar energy production, but it also presents unique opportunities. With the correct positioning and maintenance, your solar panels can effectively capture the winter sun's energy, contributing to a more sustainable and green future for the UK. The key lies in understanding the winter sun's trajectory and adjusting your panels accordingly.

Remember, your solar panels' efficiency is not just about their positioning, but also about how well they are maintained. By keeping your panels clean and free from obstructions, you can maximise your solar energy production, even during the UK's winter months. Harnessing the sun's power, even in winter, is a crucial step towards a sustainable future and an effective use of our natural resources.


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