November 24, 2021

What Is the Best Direction for Solar Panels?

  • icon SOLAR

The sun’s rays should hit a solar panel perpendicularly to achieve the greatest efficiency. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, the best direction for solar panels is generally south, based on lines of longitude. But there can be differences depending on where your home is located, how your roof is oriented, and other factors.

For homes in the same climate, a solar panel system installed on a southwest/southeast facing roof will produce about 8% less power than one on a south-facing one. If the panels are mounted to face east or west, on a standard pitch roof, they’ll achieve 15% less output, while north facing panels will produce about 30% less power than those oriented southward.

The exact impact varies depending on your latitude, number of degrees the panel points away from true south, and roof pitch.

Best Direction for Solar Panels FAQ’s

Q: Is Due South Always the Best Direction?

A: The angle of the sun changes throughout the day, and with the seasons. Even a south-facing panel won’t get direct sunlight all day. But you can choose the best angle for your location and latitude. For example, if you live near 32 degrees latitude in a location such as Dallas, Texas or Charleston, SC, your panels should be tilted at a 32-degree angle to maximize solar production.

That’s unless you install a solar panel tracking system. This allows the panels to rotate and follow the sun throughout the day. Suited for ground-mounted solar panels, tracking systems come in different configurations. A single-axis system can only move in one direction, but a dual-axis one can move along a north-south and east-west axis for more precise positioning.


Q: Other Perks of South-Facing Solar Panels

A: If your home has access to net metering, facing your solar panels south increases output and sends more power to the grid. During mid-day hours, energy collection is higher. Since most people aren’t home then, more power is generated than needed, so you can get reimbursed for more. Time of use (TOU) rates are also a consideration. With TOU rates, power sent to the grid during peak hours is worth more, so pointing solar panels to the west or southwest later in the day can help earn you more money.


Q: What If My Roof Doesn’t Face South?

A: You can still save, even without having the best direction for installing solar panels. One way to get around the inefficiencies is to install more panels, which likely won’t impact the overall cost of installation. That’s because the panels themselves are only a small proportion of the cost of procuring and setting up a photovoltaic system. And the extra panels can add enough power output to benefit as much as having south-oriented solar panels.

But if you have the yard space, you can install solar panels on the ground. While it’s less costly than fitting large racks on your roof, you’ll need to brush leaves, dirt, and perhaps snow off the panels. This isn’t hard as you don’t need to climb a ladder to do it. However, the amount of yard space needed for installation can be substantial.


Let Sunworks USA Design Your Solar Project

Our team can help with all aspects of your solar project, including system design. This stage of the process involves evaluating your home and the amount of energy you want to offset. As a result, Sunworks USA can provide a system that meets or exceeds performance expectations. To learn more, call 866-600-6800 or submit your request online for a free solar quote.

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