As a Victorian considering solar power, you have probably wondered what direction is best to face your panels to maximise your savings. It’s generally accepted that north-facing panels are ideal for maximising power output, but as mentioned, we want to maximise your savings. So, does the direction really matter?
You probably know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, but during the day the arc of the sun favours north-facing panels. In an ideal world, north-facing panels are probably the way to go as it will maximise your output, thus generate more power for self-consumption.
As you may have noticed, most of us have to work with what we’ve been given – the direction of your panels is dictated by the shape of your roof. If you’re worrying about the possible output you can achieve without a north-facing panel – don’t. This is the case for many Australians and you may find that a different direction will suit your needs more appropriately. Remember, maximum output may not always mean maximum savings.
To maximise output or maximise self-consumption?
The question of orientation involves the concept of maximising self-consumption, which is ensuring that you use the most solar electricity and the least grid electricity as possible.
By maximising self-consumption, your panel orientation may produce less energy overall, but more during periods when your usage is high. Using your own electricity may be more effective than getting paid a low rate for feeding excess power back into the grid (feed-in tariff). You often pay more for grid electricity than you get paid for supplying excess.
North-facing not an option?
If a north-facing orientation is not possible for you, a common option is an east-west split. Placing some solar panels facing east and some west will result in about 12% less total electricity produced than the maximum of north-facing panels. It can suit morning, day and afternoon usage. The advantage here is you can favour panels to either side to suit a larger consumption in the morning or afternoon.
South is typically not an ideal orientation for solar panels, as it’s maximum output is much less than north (especially in winter) and will take longer to reap the benefits.
That being said, there is no black and white answer to which orientation is best. It can depend on your usage habits, roof capabilities and angle, and surrounding shade that may affect your panel’s performance.
Ask for a site inspection
We highly recommend you get a site inspection from the A-grade electricians installing your panels, which will determine what’s most appropriate for your situation. At NG Cabling Solutions, we provide a site inspection to ensure we provide you with realistic savings on your system. This consultation is important to discuss possibilities that work around your usage pattern and needs. We provide options that help overcome orientation dilemmas, including the use of optimisers with string inverters or micro inverters depending on your individual situation.