In Australia, it is known that solar panels should almost never be installed on a south-facing roof. This is because the panels work best when they’re directly facing the sun.
Therefore, north is the best direction for solar panels in Australia. In case this is not an option, northwest and Northeast are the next best options followed by due east and due west, depending on the circumstances. Does this mean that you won’t be able to install solar panels on a south-facing roof?
What you need to know about solar panel orientation
The direction your solar panels face is crucial to get the most out of your solar energy. The orientation of your roof plays a significant role in determining the efficiency of your solar panels.
Optimally-aligned solar panels mean they can capture more sunlight and convert it into electricity with greater effectiveness. Considering the geographical location of Australia, the cardinal directions—north, south, east, and west—have varying implications for solar energy generation.
As mentioned, a north-facing roof is the most optimal because this direction receives more direct and consistent sunlight exposure throughout the day, maximising energy generation.
On the other hand, east-facing roofs receive sunlight predominantly in the morning. This is beneficial for those looking to optimise energy production during the earlier part of the day, potentially aligning with peak energy demands.
West-facing roofs receive sunlight in the afternoon, which is suited for homeowners who prioritise energy production during the later part of the day, aligning with the evening peak in energy consumption.
Finally, when it comes to south-facing roofs, it still holds relevance in specific scenarios. Understanding the nuances of how a south-facing roof interacts with the sun’s path becomes vital for homeowners in specific locations or situations.
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The advantages of south-facing roofs
Installing solar panels on a south-facing roof still comes with benefits that challenge the conventional preference for north-facing orientations. Contrary to common belief, a south-facing roof can offer significant energy yield, especially in specific regions of Australia.
Another advantage is that it can contribute to a more balanced energy production profile. By generating energy during different parts of the day, the solar panels can alleviate peak loads on the power grid, contributing to a more stable and sustainable energy distribution system.
In regions with hot summers, a south-facing orientation can have advantages. Solar panels facing south may experience less heat stress during peak sunlight hours, potentially leading to a more consistent and efficient performance compared to panels exposed to direct northern sunlight.
Also, a south-facing roof may align better with local solar conditions. Factors such as latitude and regional climate variations can influence the effectiveness of a south-facing orientation, making it a strategic choice in certain areas.
There are also reduced peak loads for south-facing solar panels that contribute to a more balanced energy production profile. This is a result of generating electricity during different parts of the day contributing to a more stable and sustainable energy distribution system.
Finally, integrating south-facing solar panels alongside other orientations can create a strategic energy distribution system. This diversifies energy generation patterns, providing a more comprehensive solution that adapts to varying sunlight conditions throughout the day.
Considering the numerous advantages of installing solar panels on south-facing roofs, it’s evident that this orientation can be a strategic and efficient choice for harnessing solar energy. If you’re contemplating making the switch to solar power, why not take the next step by getting FREE solar quotes from Energy Matters?
It’s a decision that not only aligns with the unique advantages of your south-facing roof but also contributes to a greener and more environmentally conscious lifestyle.
How to assess your south-facing roof
Here are some steps to know the exact direction your roof faces:
- Use a compass: Start by using a compass to identify the cardinal directions to get a basic understanding of your roof’s orientation.
- Use Google Earth or Maps: You can use online mapping tools to get a bird’s eye view of your property. They provide a compass overlay, letting you assess the orientation with greater precision.
- Look into building plans: If available, refer to the original building plans or blueprints. Architects usually include information on the structure’s orientation, providing valuable insights.
- Professional site assessment: Consider hiring a professional solar installer to conduct an on-site assessment. They offer tools and expertise to accurately measure the orientation and assess other relevant factors.
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How to overcome challenges
Despite the prevailing preference for north-facing roofs in solar installation, south-facing roofs should not be dismissed outright, especially if you’re left with no choice. There are now more homes that have put solar panels on their southern-facing roof.
It’s vital to remember that your south-facing solar panels will work efficiently during the summer but lose efficiency in the winter. To overcome this, it’s really about using the roof space available and adjusting it north, east, south or west as much as possible.
Another way to overcome the challenge of solar panels on a south-facing roof is to install a solar battery. This makes where the solar panels are installed matter less because the excess energy that they generate will be stored in the battery for when you need it. Solar batteries allow homeowners now to shape their solar energy generation however they like.
Finally, optimisation is key to making the most out of your solar panels on a south-facing roof. Tilting them towards the north can help capture more sunlight throughout the day. The optimal angle varies depending on your specific location. The rule of thumb is to aim for an angle equal to your latitude plus 10 to 15 degrees to ensure that they are at an angle that can soak up as much sunlight as possible.
You also want to leave sufficient space between rows for adequate airflow and prevent shading. Leave a space between your solar panels of around 1 to 1.5 times the height of the panels for proper ventilation and reduce the risk of overheating.
Embracing solar energy, specifically on south-facing roofs, required a nuanced understanding of orientation dynamics, regional variations and strategic approaches. Working with a qualified solar installer in your area is the best solution.
Energy Matters has over 18 years of experience in the solar industry and has helped over 40,000 Australian households in their journey to energy independence.
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