Is a North-Facing Home Vital for a Rooftop Solar System?



Rooftop solar systems are truly fantastic, and all can recognise the great benefits they offer. From the capacity to cut energy costs, to provide an off-grid backup in the event of power failure, to the contribution they can make to a cleaner and greener world - to name just a few! Yet although many of the benefits of rooftop solar are commonly known, all the ins and outs of installation are not as well understood.

This is a real shame, as many people stall on getting a system - that they’ll ultimately find amazing - because some misconceptions and unknowns about solar hold back progress. A common example of this surrounds north-facing homes and solar systems. So let’s unpack this now. We’ll go through the essential info you need to understand about north-facing homes, and their solar capacity.

Why North-Facing is So Notable


Many of our readers will already know that a north-facing home can be ideal. For anyone that is yet to come across why that’s the case - or is perhaps just keen on a refresher - a quick recap of why this is so will be useful. North-facing homes are very desirable due to the higher level of direct sunlight they can receive in comparison to other facings. In particular, any home that is exactly 8 degrees east of due north is held to have the ideal facing.

It’s why from a real estate perspective any residence that is north-facing - or northeast-facing - will typically go to market with its orientation as a key selling point. Other facings are certainly not horrific necessarily, but the north and northeast-facing remain the most appealing overall.

Why it Matters for Rooftop Solar Installations


Because north-facing homes are held to be the best to receive direct sunlight, many potential solar adopters infer that a north-facing residence will be best for solar panels too. In turn, those residences which are not north-facing will be at a disadvantage when seeking to get a rooftop solar system. Although there are aspects of this perspective that are accurate, there’s also shades of grey in it.

While north-facing installations can be great, the precise benefits they provide in comparison to solar installations that are on another facing - such as a north-west one - can be a far closer competition than many may otherwise imagine. In particular, the level of energy a household aspires to export, as opposed to utilising for their own consumption, is a consideration.


An Array of Options


Recent years have seen the feed-in tariff (FIT) diminished across multiple Australian jurisdictions. Overall, there’s a number of reasons why this has been occurring. Yet a key driver of it is the aspiration of authorities to reduce the sending of excess energy from rooftop solar installations to the grid so as to reduce the risk of blackouts. Due to this reduction in the FIT, a recalculation surrounding which orientation or combination of orientations provided the greatest benefit has occurred.

Overall north-facing panels will generate the most power but the bulk of this power will occur during the middle of the day, and if no one is home a large proportion of this can be exported to the grid. In comparison a system with a easten array will produce most of its power in the morning and inversely a western array will produce most of its power in the afternoon. Generally most households consume the largest amount of electricity in the afternoons so having a portion of the panels facing west can provide an afternoon boost and increases the rate of self consumption and provides a greater benefit.

Furthermore, a system with a north-west facing will in effect offer the advantages (and disadvantages) of both aforementioned orientations. A north-west setup will produce slightly less power than a north-facing one, but still more than a western one. In turn, while a north-west facing won’t generate as much energy as a western-facing setup in the afternoon, it’ll still obtain more than a northern one. Similar trade-offs apply when it comes to east and north-east orientated rooftop solar systems.


Facing up to an Issue


It’s important to keep in mind that solar installations are not simply ‘set and forget’ jobs. It’s necessary to do regular checks and maintenance to ensure the panels continue to operate as they should. For example, a regular cleaning - with many businesses recommending one occur every six months - should be done. As a result of this, it’s useful to remember any solar household that is (now) unhappy with the facing of their panels may have the potential to address the issue.

Solar panels can be repositioned for a variety of reasons. For example, if a tree has grown tall and shaded the panels - but the owners don’t wish to remove that tree - then repositioning them could be possible. Ideally, upon installation, the panels would have already been put in their optimal position not only for the current time but with a view to the future. But if a repositioning is now desirable, a quality solar installer should be able to discuss options further.

The Ideal Orientation


At the end of the day, the ideal orientation for a rooftop solar system can depend on many factors. It’s vital you understand while a north-facing setup can certainly be desirable, it’s not by default essential - or perhaps even ideal. Especially after the reduction of the FIT in recent years. Ultimately, the best path for your household to learn what solar setup may be ideal for your home is by contacting a trusted solar installer. The same applies when it comes to discussing options surrounding a repositioning of the panels, should that become desirable going forward. At Generate Energy we believe that happy customers are one of our strongest assets. We focus on providing excellence in customer service during every stage of the solar installation process. Get in contact with us today to discuss your solar and energy needs.

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