If your roof isn't facing north, which is the best direction for your solar panels in Australia, it doesn't mean solar is a waste of money. The overall output of the panels will drop if they are not facing north, but the panel's output will still provide enough electricity for your home.
West-facing solar panels produce 10-20% less electricity than north-facing panels. In addition, these panels will have the most electricity after 1:30 pm until the sun sets, making it suitable for people who leave their homes early in the morning and come home in the afternoon.
East-facing panels are the opposite, producing 10-20% less than north-facing panels but having the most output in the morning. Finally, south-facing panels are the worst-case scenario. However, they are still viable as you will receive enough electricity for the average day-to-day appliance use, especially in the middle of the day.
What’s the best solar panel direction if my roof isn’t facing North?
The best direction for your solar panels to face is north in Australia. However, if this is not possible, it does not make solar a waste of money. The overall output of the panels will drop if they are not facing exactly north. However, the panel’s output will still provide more than enough electricity for your home. This FAQ will outline everything you need to know about your options if you cannot have your panels facing north.
What solar panel direction is next best?
As Australia and New Zealand are in the southern hemisphere, panels facing north will provide the most output, but what direction is the next best?
West-facing solar panels produce 10-20% less than north-facing panels, depending on the degree of tilt the panels sit at. If your panels face west, they will generate the most electricity after 1:30 p.m. until sunset. This is most suitable for people who leave their homes early in the morning and come home in the afternoon. If this is similar to your routine and you only use appliances like air-conditioning in the afternoon, west-facing panels will help lower your electricity bill.
East-facing panels are the opposite of west-facing panels. They also produce 10-20% less than north-facing panels but have the most output in the morning. These panels will start producing the most electricity from sunrise until around midday. They will still grow in later hours, but just less, as they will be exposed to a lower level of sunlight.
If your routine involves using more electrical appliances in the morning and leaving the house in the afternoon, east-facing panels would be more beneficial for you.
The worst-case scenario is south-facing panels. They will produce around 40% less output than north-facing panels. But if your roof space is limited, all other directions have to shade, or you cannot install solar, south-facing panels are still a viable option.
Your panels will not produce as much output as the other three directions, but you will still receive enough electricity for the average day-to-day appliance use. If you are concerned, contact your installer and get their professional opinion.
Another important factor when deciding what solar panel direction you should put your panels in is the electricity tariff of your home and the family’s energy usage pattern. Usually, the time of maximum solar production is not the same as the time of peak electricity rates. For this reason, you should seek advice and information on whether the electricity rate where you live varies throughout the day (time of day metering) or is a fixed rate for every hour of the day. In NSW, for example, if you have “time of day metering” (meaning varying tariffs during the day) when the electricity price is at its peak, it is often double the price compared to the lower rate hours of the day.
It is best for your panels to collect the most electricity simultaneously as you are using the most electricity. If these times are the opposite, then your solar returns will not be optimal., but they could still be ok, depending on your feed-in tariff rate.
As mentioned, if you use more electricity in the afternoon, west-facing panels are best for you. If you use more electricity in the morning, east-facing panels are best for you. Often a combination of solar panels facing in multiple directions is the best solution, as you potentially cover the whole day with solid solar output.
Do not worry if the panels can not face north
So if you cannot have your solar panels facing north, there is no need to worry. Investing in a solar system is still beneficial without north-facing panels. This information should have steered you in the right direction in deciding what is best for you and your situation, so you can begin reaping the benefits of having your own solar and battery system.
One last word of wisdom. The aesthetic aspects of panels on the roof can also play a role in determining the appropriate panel position. Sometimes one or two roof directions are more ideally suited than another from a visual aspect, as not all homeowners like the look of solar panels on their roof – staring at them from the street view.