Which Direction is Best For Solar Panels

Which Direction is Best For Solar Panels?

Solar Panels are installed based on geographic locations and areas throughout the world. This is a simple logic: the solar panels should be faced to maintain a steady and balanced approach throughout the day, to the best of your ability, and the sun is in a different place in the sky. The ideal situation is when the sun is hitting the panels at a perfect 90 degrees, which maximizes the amount of energy hitting the panels and it is being produced.

Optimal Solar Panel Orientation for Australian property 

Why South is Best:

– For homeowners in Australia, south-facing solar panels offer the best opportunity to cover power usage, charge batteries, and maximize offsets from net metering. The sun’s position north of the equator means it shines slightly southward, making south-facing panels ideal for absorbing energy efficiently.

West-Facing Panels:

– West-facing solar panels produce approximately 15% less electricity on average, but they can be advantageous for those on Time-of-Use (TOU) pricing plans. West-facing panels generate more energy during peak usage hours, potentially reducing electricity costs.

East-Facing Panels:

– Like west-facing panels, east-facing arrays produce about 15% less energy than average. Consider east-facing Orientation if south-facing roofs are unavailable.

North-Facing Panels:

– North-facing panels offer the least ideal Orientation, providing nearly 30% less power. However, for Sydney or Perth residents, where the sun’s position varies significantly throughout the year, north-facing panels may be viable, particularly during the summer when the sun is positioned to the north of homes in these regions.

Importance of Solar Panel Placement for Energy Efficiency

Understanding why solar panel placement matters can help maximize energy generation and Efficiency. While pointing panels towards the sun will produce energy to some extent, precise positioning is crucial for optimal performance. Here’s why:

1. Direct Sunlight Absorption:

   – Solar panels consist of photovoltaic solar cells which absorb sunlight to generate more electricity.PV cells have specific bandgaps, meaning they can only absorb certain wavelengths of light. When panels face directly at the sun, they receive maximum sunlight exposure, allowing the PV cells to absorb more energy efficiently.

2. Minimizing Wavelength Reflection:

   – Even a slight deviation from direct sunlight can cause PV cells to reflect wavelengths away rather than absorbing them. This reduces the amount of energy captured by the panels. Therefore, an exact alignment towards the sun ensures maximum sunlight absorption, optimizing energy production.

3. Increase Efficiency:

   -Proper idle angle and solar panel placement significantly improve the Efficiency of the solar array. One can maximize the sunlight exposure; homeowners can increase energy generation and ultimately enhance the return on investment for their solar system.

Factors Affecting Solar Panel Output Efficiency

Directional Influence on Efficiency:

– South-facing solar panels typically yield the highest energy output for the average Australian homeowner. As you deviate from due south, energy efficiency decreases. Here’s a general breakdown:

   – Southwest or southeast: 8% less efficient

   – West or East: 15% less efficient

   – North: 30% less efficient

Latitude’s Impact:

– The importance of south-facing panels varies with latitude. For locations closer to the equator (e.g., Sydney, Perth), direction becomes less critical. Conversely, south-facing panels are essential for optimal Efficiency in northern regions (e.g., Queensland).

Roof Pitch Considerations:

– The slope of your roof affects solar panel efficiency. For example:

   – Houses with lower roof pitches (e.g., 3/12) in places like Sydney, Perth, may have better angles toward the sun, resulting in increased energy production.

   – Conversely, homes with steeper pitches (e.g., 10/12) in snowy regions like Brisbane, Canberra, may experience significantly reduced Efficiency, particularly with north-facing arrays.

Maximizing Solar Energy Efficiency Without South-Facing Panels

While solar panel direction significantly impacts energy output, alternatives exist if south-facing installation isn’t feasible. Despite the preference for southern Orientation, today’s affordable solar equipment makes switching still financially viable. Here are some alternative approaches:

Adjust Orientation:

Consider installing panels facing a different direction. While non-south orientations may require more solar panels for equivalent energy production, the investment could yield substantial savings. For instance, if south-facing panels aren’t feasible but east-facing ones are, opting for a more extensive system compensates for reduced Efficiency. A 15% efficiency loss due to Orientation might necessitate a 7.8kW system instead of a standard 6.6kW one. Although this may incur slightly higher installation costs, the long-term savings on electricity bills can quickly offset the initial investment. Given the durability of solar panels, with lifespans of up to 25 years, the returns over their lifetime remain promising.


The tilt primarily refers to the angle at which the panels are oriented toward the sky. For instance, on a flat roof, the tilt is 0°, but if the panels face a wall, the tilt would be 90°.

According to Esteem Energy, the ideal angle for solar PV arrays depends on the building’s electrical load profile. To optimize your solar panels for heavy summer AC usage, it’s advisable to adjust the tilt to your latitude minus 10°. Conversely, if your winter heating relies on electricity (rather than gas or wood), tilting the panels to your latitude plus 15° would be more efficient. When your summer and winter energy needs are balanced, maintaining a tilt equal to your latitude should suffice. However, most grid-connected systems will likely be installed at whatever angle the roof is titled because of the additional cost of tilt frames, which isn’t justified by additional solar system yields. It can be more cost-effective to add a system or more.

Efficiency of solar systems


Australia, in the southern hemisphere, mostly experiences a sun that mainly comes in the north. It is for sure that there are many devices throughout the changing weather and season. Still, ideally, solar panels should be facing as close to the north as possible to reduce the winter season’s impact on larger yields. An east or west-facing will operate better at 85% of its rated output. To put it in simple words, rather than generating the usual average of 4.5 kWh per 1 kWh daily energy, the system will only produce 3.835 kWh.


1. How should we find the best directions for solar panels?

   – In the Aus, south-facing solar panels are generally recommended for optimal energy output because of the country’s location in the northern hemisphere, where the sun’s path tends to be slightly southward throughout the year.

2. Which Orientation is best for solar panel installation, i.e., west or east?

   – Both eastern and western orientations typically result in a similar decrease in output. However, homeowners in regions with Time-of-Use electricity pricing may find that west-facing panels can provide savings during peak hours.

3. Do seasons affect the direction of solar panels?

   – In most parts of the continental Australia, seasonal variations do not significantly impact the direction of solar panels. However, individuals living in locations closer to the equator, such as Sydney or Perth, may need to consider different orientations.

4. Which is more critical for Efficiency: solar panel angle or direction?

   – The tilt of the angle is a major aspect of solar panel installation; the direction they face is generally more critical. Ensuring that panels are oriented optimally towards the sun can significantly impact efficiency and energy production.

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