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South Facing Solar Panels: Are They Worth It?

South Facing Solar Panels: Are They Worth It? Factors That Affect The Power Output Of South-Facing Panels

If you live in Australia, you must be wondering if it is worth investing in south-facing solar panels. After all, Australia is in the southern hemisphere so north-facing panels generally produce more electricity.

However, this doesn’t mean that south-facing panels are completely useless. They still produce plenty of electricity and are still great options for homes in sunnier regions. This is especially true considering how cheap the price of solar panels has gotten relative to modern efficiencies.

Below is a list of everything I’m covering in this article. I recommend reading from the top but feel free to tap on any of the bullets to skip sections.

Can you put solar panels on a south-facing roof?

Yes, you can install solar panels in Australia even if your roof is facing south. And yes, you can still save money and rely less on grid electricity.

The catch is that south-facing panels generally produce less electricity than in other directions.

It does come with its own set of advantages, though — but more on that later. For now, let’s discuss the different factors that affect power production if you have a south-facing solar system.

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Factors that affect the power output of south-facing panels

Tilt Angle

In any other direction, you can get the most amount of solar power from your system if your solar panels were tilted to match the latitude of where you live. That can get very specific but, as a rule of thumb, panels tilted at 10-30 degrees are recommended in Australia.

However, that’s not true for south-facing panels. In this case, a flatter tilt angle generates more power because it makes your solar panels more perpendicular to the sun.

So, if your south-facing roof has a pitch of about 15 degrees, your solar system should still be able to generate an ample amount of power.

If not, I strongly recommend discussing other installation options with your installer. Like using tilt frames or installing solar panels on other parts of your property, for example.

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Location

Generally, the farther you are from the equator, the less solar power your solar system can generate if they’re facing south.

So if you lived in Darwin (Australia’s northernmost city), you’d be making more power than someone who has the same system but lives in Hobart.

Local climate

Regardless of which direction your panels are facing, your local climate is going to affect how much power your solar system can generate.

That being said, the difference in power outputs between south-facing panels and north-facing panels is negligible during the summer. It’s during the winter when south-facing solar systems generate significantly less.

In this case, you might just have to rely more on grid electricity and savor the savings you get during the summer months. There are options you can discuss with your installer, of course, so be sure to bring this up during your conversations.

Benefits of installing south-facing panels

Installing solar panels facing south offers several advantages to many homeowners in Australia, including the following:

Lower electricity bills

South-facing panels will still produce plenty of energy during the day even if it’s not as much as north-facing panels. This means that even if your system’s orientation isn’t optimal, you can still enjoy lower electricity bills.

This is particularly true if you maximize your self-consumption. Thus, why we recommend running your heavy appliances when the sun is out. And if you want to rely even less on grid electricity, consider adding a solar battery to your system.

Recommended: How you can save more money with solar panels

The negligible difference in energy output during the summer

As I previously stated, the difference in energy output between north-facing panels and south-facing panels is slim to none. This becomes truer the closer the tilt of your solar panels is to being flat.

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Modern solar panels are both cheaper and more efficient.

This is true for all orientations, regardless if you have south-facing panels, north-facing panels, or even east- and west-facing panels. Technology has come so far that harnessing solar electricity is practical in virtually any situation.

Not to mention, Australia has so many incentives that make solar power systems more affordable, including rebates and financing options. If you’re interested, we cover both of those topics in our Solar Panels 101 guide.

South-facing panels VS. other directions

While orienting your solar panels due south is still practical, you do have other options. And no, it’s not just north. East and west can be great options, too, so they’re at least worth exploring.

East-facing solar panel

A solar system that’s facing east produces more solar energy during the early morning because it’s right in position to harness the sunrise.

Consider this option if your and your family’s energy consumption is highest during the early hours.

West-facing solar panels

Conversely, a west-facing solar system will generate more energy during the late afternoon when the sun is setting.

If not north, this is the orientation that most Australians choose – and it’s understandable. After all, most people are at work or school from the morning up until the early afternoon. If that’s how your lifestyle is, too, then you might want to consider west-facing panels.

North-facing solar panels

At this point, I probably don’t need to tell you that north-facing solar panels are the ideal choice in Oz. The solar generation of this orientation is simply superior in terms of total power output.

But, again, every direction has its perks and right now, they’re all more practical than continuing to pay full price for grid electricity.

FAQs:

Are south-facing solar panels worth it?

Yes, south-facing solar panels are still well worth your money. For one, solar panels are cheaper than ever especially when you factor in rebates and, if necessary, financing. But, more importantly, modern panels are highly efficient so they can still produce plenty of solar power.

What is the best angle for solar panels in Australia?

That depends. If you have north-facing panels, the best angle will be equal to that of your geographical latitude. For south-facing solar panels, though, the flatter the better.

Is it better to tilt solar panels or flat?

It’s generally better to tilt your solar panels so they’re more perpendicular to the sun. This makes them better at capturing photons that ultimately become electricity. However, flat solar panels are also acceptable particularly if you have a south-facing solar power system.

Conclusion

I won’t deny that south-facing panels produce the least solar energy output compared to a system that’s facing north, east, and west. But, does that make it impractical? Absolutely not.

Particularly in the summer, there’s little difference between north and south-facing panels, so you can still save money with this orientation. Plus, it’s not like your solar panels stop producing solar energy during the other seasons either.

So if your only choice is to have your solar panels installed facing south, don’t let it stop you. Oh, and if you need help finding installers, we have a network that we’ve already pre-vetted. We can get you 3 FREE quotes from them right away.