Solar Panel Azimuth Angle Calculator

Use our solar panel azimuth angle calculator to the find the best direction to face your solar panels.

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Your optimal azimuth angle is , which is:
View this page in a different browser to see a drawing of your optimal azimuth angle.
Note: Your azimuth angle can also be expressed as ° clockwise from magnetic north, or ° clockwise from true north. Your location’s current magnetic declination is °.

Tip: Also check out our solar panel tilt angle calculator to find the best tilt angle for your solar panels.

Calculator Notes

  • This calculator uses the most recent version of the World Magnetic Model to calculate the magnetic declination for your location.
  • This calculator uses the current date to calculate your location’s magnetic declination.
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What Is the Best Direction for Solar Panels to Face?

For locations in the northern hemisphere, the best solar panel direction is true south.

For locations in the southern hemisphere, the best solar panel direction is true north.

These values typically maximize electricity production over the year. However, local weather patterns may cause the optimal azimuth angle to be slightly east or west of these default values.

Note: In addition to our calculator, here are other free tools you can use to calculate your solar panel azimuth angle.

What Is a Solar Panel’s Azimuth Angle?

The azimuth angle is the direction that a solar panel faces. It is often expressed in degrees clockwise from true north.

So an azimuth angle of 180° clockwise from true north would mean the solar panel is facing true south. An azimuth angle of 0° clockwise from true north would mean the solar panel is facing true north.

What Is Magnetic Declination?

True north is different than magnetic north. The difference between the two is called magnetic declination.

Compasses point toward magnetic north. So, if you’re orienting a solar panel using a compass, you need to adjust its direction by the current magnetic declination at your location.

Magnetic declination is expressed in degrees and can be either positive or negative. A positive magnetic declination means your location’s magnetic north is east of true north. A negative magnetic declination means your location’s magnetic north is west of true north.

Our solar panel azimuth calculator calculates the current magnetic declination for your location using the latest version of the World Magnetic Model — the same model used by the US Department of Defense, the UK Ministry of Defence, and NATO.

The earth’s magnetic field varies over time. Accordingly, the magnetic declination at a given location also changes over time. Our calculator uses the current date to calculate your solar panel azimuth angle.

True Azimuth vs Magnetic Azimuth: How Much of a Difference Does It Make?

How much more energy do you produce if you face your solar panels towards the true azimuth?

It turns out…not much.

I used PVWatts to run an analysis for over 200 cities around the world. I calculated the annual production of a 10kW ground-mounted solar array at each location — once using the magnetic azimuth and again using the true azimuth.

I then ran a similar analysis for 100 cities around the United States.

Here were the results:

AreaAvg Production – Magnetic AzimuthAvg Production – True AzimuthAvg Increase
Northern Hemisphere14280.73 kWh14290.24 kWh9.51 kWh
Southern Hemisphere16,012.31 kWh16,067.46 kWh55.14 kWh
United States15,815.64 kWh15,836.96 kWh21.32 kWh

Click here to browse the data yourself.

These average increases were far smaller than I had expected. The true azimuth barely outperforms the magnetic azimuth.

Is True South or True North Always the Best Azimuth Angle?

No. Local weather patterns may cause the best azimuth angle for your solar panels to be slightly east or west of true south or true north.

For instance, let’s say you live in the northern hemisphere. Typically, your optimal azimuth angle would be true south.

However, let’s say that when it rains at your location, it’s usually in the late afternoon. In this case, your optimal azimuth angle may be slightly east of south to optimize for clear skies in the morning and early afternoon.

Our calculator takes into account your location’s magnetic declination to give the rule-of-thumb optimal azimuth angles of true south and true north. But you can fine tune these even more by using PVWatts, which I describe how to do in the above video.

Another important exception to the “true north or true south” rule is if you want to maximize solar production of a grid-tied system during peak time-of-use (TOU) rates. Peak TOU rates tend to be in the afternoon, when the sun is slightly west in the sky.

In these scenarios, your solar panels will save you the most money if you orient your panels slightly west to maximize energy production when electricity is most expensive.

Best Solar Panel Direction by Zip Code

Here is a list of the best solar panel directions for 50 of the most populated zip codes in the United States.

Full list: Best Solar Panel Direction by Zip Code

CityStateZip CodeBest Solar Panel Direction in 2024 (clockwise from magnetic north)Magnetic Declination in 2024
El PasoTX79936172.6°7.4°
Los AngelesCA90011168.5°11.5°
Los AngelesCA90044168.5°11.5°
Long BeachCA90805168.6°11.4°
Grand PrairieTX75052177.2°2.8°
South GateCA90280168.5°11.5°
Sugar LandTX77479178°
San JuanPR00926193.5°-13.5°
New York CityNY10025192.6°-12.6°
Staten IslandNY10314192.5°-12.5°

If you don’t see your zip code on this list, just enter it into the calculator at the top of this page to find the best direction for your location.

Note: The solar panel direction for each zip code above was calculated in 2024 using our solar panel azimuth angle calculator. Magnetic declination at a location changes over time, so we will occasionally update this list with the latest azimuth angles and declination values.

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Alex Beale
Alex Beale is the founder and owner of Footprint Hero. As a self-taught DIY solar enthusiast, Alex has spent 4 years producing educational solar content across YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and the Footprint Hero blog. During that time, he's built Footprint Hero to over 7 million blog visits and 18 million YouTube views. He lives in Tennessee.