Depending on how you consume power and where you live, certain solar panel orientations are much better than others. So what direction should solar panels face in Australia?
Because Australia is in the southern hemisphere, north facing panels generally generate the most electricity whereas south facing solar panels generate the least.
However, the best direction for solar panels is the one that maximizes your self consumption. So, orientations that generate more power during certain parts of the day – such as east or west – might actually save you more money.
That being said, today we explore the advantages of each orientation and which one might be better suited to you.
North facing solar panels
As previously mentioned, Australia is in the southern hemisphere. That means the sun moves toward the north.
For you, this just means that north facing panels will generally harness the most amount of solar power. Hence, producing the most amount of solar electricity.
So, why don’t all homes have north-facing panels?
Well, there can be a few reasons, including (but not limited to):
- Their roofs aren’t oriented north
- Shading or weather issues that make north an inferior direction for solar panels
- East or west-facing solar panels make more sense in terms of how they use electricity
We’ll get to east and west facing solar panels in a bit but the bottom line is that north facing panels aren’t always the most practical.
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Why YOU should consider north facing solar panels:
- If you’re at home all day using electricity, solar panels that face north will reduce your electricity bills.
- If you’re not always at home but have a battery to store your energy, north facing panels can be a good option.
- If you’re looking to maximize on feed-in tariffs (FiT).
P.S.: A feed-in tariff is payment for feeding the grid with your excess solar electricity. However, FiTs have steadily gone down all throughout Australia. So, more often than not, it’s better to set up your solar power system in a way that maximizes your own consumption.
East facing solar panels
East facing solar panels produce roughly 15-20% less energy than north facing solar panels in total.
However, because the sun rises from the east, this solar power system also produces more solar electricity during the early morning.
You should consider east facing panels if your peak electricity consumption is in the morning.
A good example of this would be when you, your partner, and your kids all have to leave for work and/or school during the day. This means you will have to run your heater or air-conditioning, toasters, stoves, and others before you leave.
In this case, east facing panels generate electricity to run your appliances, thus reducing your electricity bills.
West facing solar panels
West facing panels produce around the same amount of energy as solar panels facing east – which is still about 15-20% less than what north facing panels produce.
The difference is that west facing panels produce more electricity during the afternoon up until the sun sets rather than in the morning.
Consider west facing panels if you’re around the house more in the afternoon or if you’re using more electricity during this time of day.
One good example of this is if you’re normally running your air conditioning all afternoon to dull down the summer heat. Another would be if, like me, your work schedule has you away early in the morning but back shortly after lunch.
What about in-betweens or combinations like north east and north west?
A solar system with a north east orientation and a north west orientation will produce slightly less electricity in the morning (compared to east) and in the afternoon (compared to west).
On the bright side, a solar system in these in-between orientations generates more electricity overall. In fact, they generate roughly 10% more electricity compared to purely east and west, and only about 5-10% less compared to north (as opposed to 15-20%).
You could also just choose to have some of your solar panels facing north while some either face east or west. It all depends on your electricity usage.
That being said, I recommend speaking with an installer and getting their advice. The choice is ultimately yours but their knowledge and experience can provide useful insight.
If you don’t know any installer, don’t worry. We have pre-vetted installers around Australia that we also trust with our own systems. We’re confident that they’re good people who won’t rip you off. So, whenever you’re ready, we can get you 3 FREE quotes from them right away.
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Does it matter which way solar panels face?
Yes, it absolutely matters which way your solar panels face. North facing panels produce the most amount of electricity overall. However, should your solar panels face east or west, they produce more electricity during the morning and afternoon respectively.
Why should solar panels face north?
Your solar panels should face north if what you’re after is maximum energy production. Because Australia is in the southern hemisphere, a solar system that faces north is generally in the most optimal position to harness the power of the sun.
Why wouldn’t everyone point the panels west?
Not everyone points their solar panels west because different people have different energy usage patterns. For example, someone who consumes most of his/her electricity in the morning would have east as his/her best solar panel direction.
Conclusion: What direction your solar panels should face in Australia
The bottom line is that there’s no one answer to what the best solar panel direction is. Everyone’s energy usage is different after all. However, here’s a summary of what things you should keep in mind:
- North facing panels work best if you’re after maximum solar energy production.
- An east facing solar energy system works best if you’re consuming the most of your electricity in the morning, because it’s in a better position to harness the sun rise.
- Installing solar panels facing west is best if you use most of your electricity in the afternoon, because your system is facing the setting sun.
- In-betweens such as north east and north west generate slightly less power during the morning and afternoon compared to entirely east and west systems. But the net electricity produced by these hybrids is also more (though still slightly less than north).
- South facing panels are generally the worst for Australians as the continent is in the southern hemisphere. Countries in the northern hemisphere, such as Canada and the United States, however, will do well with south facing panels.