This is something we constantly check online as an optimal angle will increase our yield. In this article, we will inform you about the past and comings months.
When we started our expedition in Morocco in November, the optimal angle for our solar panels was roughly 60 degrees. This was really steep, so we had to be creative. We found this in hills and using pegs we have with us. Resulting in two times +56% (roughly 40kWh) of yield in a day.
When we drove more south to Mauritania, the intensity of the solar radiation increased and the angle decreased. When we arrived in Mauritania in December, the optimal angle was 42 degrees. As we found enough sand dunes in the right angle and direction, we were able to generate quite some energy while charging without solar panels, especially because we had no clouds whatsoever.
When we drove more south, the amounts of clouds increase, but the angle decreased. This made it easier to find a charging spot.
But we experienced other challenges creating shadows on our solar panels: leaf’s, animals, and smoke. In Senegal, the maximum yield was +53% (roughly 38kWh).
While driving into the Gambia, we already drove 2 weeks purely on solar energy. 4 weeks and 7 solar charging days later without using the grid, we set a record yield of the past weeks in Guinea: +54% (roughly 40kWh). At this location, the optimal angle for our solar panels was decreased to 30 degrees.
Starting from Sierra Leone our main direction was east. In Liberia, we set a new maximum charging speed record of 9,8kW (solar radiation was 1.040W/m2 in between clouds). The optimal angle at this charging spot was 22 degrees.
In Ivory Coast, we matched our record of 56%. We could have done more, but we had to stop charging because a soccer game started at the field we laid out our panels.
After more than 5.500km the last time solar charging was in Ivory Coast with just +20% due to a lot of clouds. After 5.550km driving on purely solar energy, we decided to use the grid to charge our car to the first time in 2,5 months.
Although the optimal angle decreased to just 20 degrees, we did not have a blue sky since Mauritania. In the following countries, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria, we did not charge much on our solar panels as safety was our main priority. In addition, the rainy season was coming in fast. As our expedition car is not made for muddy conditions, we had no time to wait for the sun.
In Cameroon, our optimal angle was just 3 degrees. We set a new record of +59% (roughly 42kWh) even though we had some clouds. Imagine a day without any clouds, we would have set a record of at least +70% (roughly 50kWh, +330km on the tarmac).
In Congo Brazzaville we encountered for the first time the fact that the highest point of the sun on a day was not on the south side, but north, just 5 degrees. As we still driving through the rainy season, there are lots of clouds. It would extend our expedition a lot if we would drive purely on solar energy. In addition, parts of Congo Brazzaville are not safe enough to charge with our solar panels.
Starting from mid-Angola, we expect to see blue skies again, but the optimal angle for our solar panels will be 22 degrees. One month later when we are in Namibia, the optimal angle is increased to 45 degrees. When we arrive in Cape Town, when we are halfway our expedition, the optimal angle will be 55 degrees.
The first time laying out our solar panels flat will be probably in Tanzania.