What Direction Should Solar Panels Face in Australia?
In Australia, solar panels typically give the biggest energy yields when they’re positioned facing north. However, if installing solar panels in a north direction isn’t possible on your rooftop, you can still generate plenty of solar power with other orientations. The best way to find out the optimum orientation for your home or workplace is to consult a solar panel expert.
In the guide below, we explain what direction solar panels should face in Australia, whether you can install solar panels on flat roofs and other factors that affect energy output. Plus, some tips for maximising your solar power system.
In Australia, what is the best direction to position solar panels?
North facing panels will usually give the best energy output in Australia. Since we are located in the southern hemisphere, the sun travels through the sky in a slightly northern trajectory. This means north facing panels will receive the maximum sunlight throughout the day. However, the best orientation is not necessarily true north. You could actually get a higher solar energy yield slightly west of north, depending on where you live, your energy consumption patterns and the design of your home. A solar panel expert takes all these factors into account when determining what direction solar panels should face in Australia.
What if a north orientation is not possible?
If the orientation of your house or other factors make it impossible to install north-facing panels, you can still get a good energy yield with east or west-facing panels. North-west or north-east solar systems will get slightly better results, and this is often a good alternative if direct north facing panels is not possible.
If you have the choice between east or west, it’s important to think about when you use the most electricity. For households that consume the bulk of their energy in the late afternoon and evening, then a west facing panel is preferable to east. On the other hand, if you use the most amount of electricity in the morning, an east facing panel might be the better option. An expert will also inspect your property for shading and any other factors that might interfere with solar energy output.
What’s the least productive direction for solar panels?
In the southern hemisphere, south-facing panels have the lowest energy yields because they receive the least sunlight during daylight hours. That being said, south-facing panels will still generate some solar electricity. If your only option is south facing panels, it’s important to optimise the tilt of the panels to maximise sunlight. Flat roof tops and roofs with a smaller pitch tend to result in better solar production when it comes to south facing solar panel systems.
Can you put solar panels on flat roofs?
Yes, you can install solar panels on flat roofs. Many commercial properties, and some residential properties, have flat roofs and still manage excellent solar production. In many cases, you will need a tilting rack to help orientate the panels towards the best direction. In general, conventional framed solar panels shouldn’t be installed flat as they can get very dirty like this. Dirty solar panels are significantly less effective at generating solar electricity. If you are thinking about installing a solar panel system on a flat roof, it’s best to consult a professional first.
Other factors that affect energy output
In addition to the orientation of your solar panels, there are a number of other factors that can affect your system’s output. Before installing a solar power system, it’s important to consider factors such as:
- Roof pitch and tilt – the tilt of your panels can affect how much sunlight they receive throughout the day. Keep in mind the optimum tilt may change throughout the year as the sun tracks at a higher angle during summer and lower in winter.
- Shade – surrounding trees or buildings may cast shadows over the solar panels during parts of the day causing a decrease in energy generation. If you can’t remove the source of shading, a different location for the panels might be required.
- Climate – the local climate can have an impact on the output of your solar PV system. Solar panels will still work effectively in light cloud cover, but very heavy cloud cover can reduce efficiency. Very hot temperatures can also reduce efficiency.
- Quality of the system – naturally higher quality systems have better efficiency ratings. They tend to cost more at the outset, but will enable higher savings and better energy output long term.
- Maintenance – in some locations dirt and debris may build up on your panels to the point that it affects your energy yield. Cleaning your solar panels is an important part of upkeep, as is servicing your solar PV system regularly. These can help preserve the life of your system as well as increase energy production.
Further reading: Simple tips to get the most out of your solar panels.
Get advice from trusted solar installers in Mandurah
Not sure what direction solar panels should face for your home or business? The iBreeze team can help. We provide solar panel installation services throughout Perth and Mandurah. By carefully inspecting your property and understanding your energy needs, we can make sure your system is installed in the best place possible.
Call us today for an obligation-free quote on (08) 9534 9491.
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