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Solar Panels On Both Sides Of Roof: A Comprehensive Guide For Aussies

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, YES, you can install solar panels on both sides of your roof. Just because the sun shines in one direction of your home the majority of the time does not mean that you shouldn’t consider the other sides. In fact, there are benefits to this approach.

Now, the question becomes, SHOULD you do this?

Let’s talk about the pros and cons of a multi-orientation setup, how they work, the costs, and, of course, if it’s a good idea for your particular situation.

Should you install multi-directional solar panels?

Yes, but only if installing solar panels in a single direction isn’t sufficient for your home’s needs.

That being said, a general rule in Australia is that north-facing panels are best. This is because we’re in the southern hemisphere, and installing solar panels facing north means facing the sun more throughout the day.

Your house might not have a north-facing roof, though. In this case, solar panels installed in multiple directions, like an east-west setup, can allow you to capture sunlight more evenly throughout the day. This leads to more solar energy and a more consistent output.

Multidirectional setups can also be a solution to problems that sometimes come with unidirectional setups, such as shading issues and a lack of roof space.

Before you make rash decisions, though, do make sure to consult with a solar expert that you trust. And, while we’re on the topic, we have a network of pre-vetted solar installers that we trust with our own systems. Just let us know if you need help, and we’ll send 3 FREE quotes your way right away.

Recommended: What’s the best orientation for solar systems in Australia?

PRO TIP! The angle of your installation is important, too.

Imagine you’re setting up a beach umbrella. You know the sun’s going to move across the sky during the day, and you want the best shade possible, right? So, if you’re on a beach in Sydney, you’d angle your umbrella to where you expect the most sun to be, considering the beach’s location.

For your solar PV system, it’s a similar idea. If Sydney’s latitude angle is about 34 degrees, the best angle for your solar modules is also around 34 degrees.

But if your roof’s pitch isn’t the same as your property’s latitude angle, don’t stress it too much. Modern PV modules have become so efficient that even suboptimal orientations can yield highly impressive power outputs.

Let’s circle back to multi-directional solar systems, shall we?

Recommended: The best angle for solar panels in Australia

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How does a multi-directional solar panel system work?

Simply put, your system will have an inverter working hand-in-hand with MPPTs, or Maximum Power Point Trackers.

You see, most unidirectional setups have solar panels that are wired in parallel. In this case, all of the solar panels are treated as a single array. It’s easy to do and, therefore, cheaper than the alternative.

When you install solar arrays on both sides of your roof, however, this setup isn’t optimal because a lack of sunshine on one side lowers the efficiency of the entire system. That’s where MPPTs come in.

MPPTs allow arrays from every side of your roof to operate independently. In east-and-west installations, for example, the east-facing array produces solar energy during the day while the west-facing array does its job during the afternoon. Neither one affects the other, leading to high power outputs.

“Okay, but do I really need an MPPT?”

Good question. And, no, you don’t necessarily need an MPPT if you plan on installing solar panels on both sides of your roof. However, not having them might also not be the most practical route, as the efficiency and overall performance of your system will more than likely be affected.

I can only think of a few instances where I would willingly recommend a split-array setup without an MPPT. These are:

  • If both sides of your roof have uniform sunlight exposure. I honestly don’t know if such a place exists in Australia, or the world for that matter. But, hey, if your property is in this rare (maybe non-existent) part of AU, good for you.
  • When you’re on a limited budget. Installing a solar power system on both sides of your roof will come at a higher cost, particularly if you include MPPTs. If you’re willing to sacrifice efficiency and performance to cut costs, that’s entirely your choice.
  • When you have a hybrid inverter. Some hybrid inverters already come with MPPTs. This is a good option if you want to balance cost and optimization.

While we’re on the topic of costs…

How much will it cost to install panels on both sides of my roof?

Short answer: that depends.

The cost of installing a split-array setup can cost roughly $3500–$5000 for an entry-level 3-5 kW system, $4500–$8000 for a medium-sized 5-7 kW system, or over $8000 for a larger system.

Again, these are all rough estimates since so many factors affect your initial investment. These factors include the quality of the installed components, the complexity of the installation, and the local incentives available to you.

If in doubt, never hesitate to ask your local professional for a quote or two. Oh, and did I already mention our pre-vetted network of solar installers who can give you 3 FREE quotes right away? I have? My bad. Well, you can always ask them for help, too.

Now, what if going for a multi-directional setup goes beyond the budget? Should we stick to the basic mono-directional panels?

Why you shouldn’t go for panels installed multi-directionally

While split-array installations come with a myriad of benefits, including more energy generated and lower energy bills, they’re not for everyone. Here are just a few reasons why you might not want to push through:

  • Setting up solar panels to face multiple directions complicates installation and typically increases costs due to the need for a more intricate design and possibly additional hardware.
  • Aesthetically, a multi-directional array may not appeal to everyone; panels facing various directions can create a less uniform, more patchwork appearance on your roof.
  • Technically, managing energy from panels oriented in different directions may require a more advanced inverter or multiple inverters, pushing up the initial cost.

Although capturing sunlight throughout the day sounds beneficial, the actual energy production, especially during sunrise and sunset when the sun’s power is weaker, may not significantly generate more electricity compared to optimally positioned panels.

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Conclusions

Are you going for a multi-directional solar panel setup on your roof? Good on you! It’s a smart move in sunny Australia, maximizing your energy production from sunrise until sunset. Sure, it might cost a bit more upfront and look a bit different, but think about the lower bills and the good you’re doing for the planet.

Just remember, every roof’s different, so chat with a solar pro to nail down what’s best for yours. And hey, don’t forget about those government incentives; they can really help with the costs.

In the end, it’s all about what works for you, your home, and your budget. With a bit of planning and the right advice, you can make a decision that’ll keep you and your wallet happy, all while doing your bit for the earth.