Solar Panel Orientation: How it Affects Performance

Updated: July 26, 2022

Solar panel orientation determines the productivity of your solar system. Where you live determines the correct orientation for your solar panels.

If you live in the southern hemisphere, the correct orientation for your solar panels is trues north. If you live in the northern hemisphere, the correct orientation is true south.

Proper orientation ensures that your solar panels produce electricity efficiently. Thus, you can enjoy the benefits of solar power.

solar panel orientation

Sun Exposure

Proper orientation allows solar panels to enjoy maximum exposure to the sun.

The sun’s rays must hit the solar panels perpendicularly for maximum production. Proper orientation allows for this to happen.

When solar panels are exposed to the sun well, they produce as expected. Depending on the capacity of your solar panels, they will generate the rated power.

Many solar panels produce less power than the rating based on how they receive the sun.

Proper solar panel orientation allows the panels to have more access to the sun throughout the day.

solar panel output

Period Of Sun Exposure

When oriented correctly, solar panels have exposure to the sun for the whole day. As a result, they can produce maximum power all day.

Panels installed in the correct orientation can trap the sun’s rays as soon as it rises. They will catch the rays perfectly as the sun moves across the sky during the day.

When you do not consider orientation at installation, solar panels will only catch the sun in the morning, noon, or sunset. Consequently, solar panels will generate power inefficiently.

The longer solar panels are exposed to the sun, the more power they produce. Proper orientation ensures that solar panels can capture the sun’s rays throughout the day.

Location Of The Sun

The location of the sun determines proper orientation. The sun relates to solar panels differently based on the region of installation.

If you live in the northern hemisphere, install your panels oriented southwards.

If you live in the southern hemisphere, install your panels oriented northwards. It allows for maximum sun absorption and maximum electricity generation. In the Americas, east-west is the best solar panel orientation.

A professional solar panel installer will advise on your location’s best orientation for solar panels. The design of your roof may also influence the installation of solar panels in your home.

Solar Panel System Technology

Over time, solar panel manufacturing technology has allowed for orientation to not matter. You can install your solar panels in any way and they will absorb as much sun as they can to produce electricity efficiently.

If you install technologically advanced solar panels, you may not have to worry about orientation. These panels generate electricity on cloudy days with the available sunshine.

However, they will work best when they are oriented correctly based on where you live. Proper orientation coupled with advanced solar technology, ensures that you have maximum solar power generation for use.

Other Types Of Solar Panel Orientation

East-West Solar Panels Orientation

Solar panel orientation is based on the location of the sun relative to where you live. If you live in the northern hemisphere, the sun is to your south. Hence, a southern orientation is ideal for your solar panels.

If you live in the southern hemisphere, the sun is northwards. Thus, a southern orientation is ideal for your solar panels.

However, you can also consider orientation based on the movement of the sun.

The sun moves from east to west in a single day. Therefore, you can have east-facing solar panels to receive maximum sunshine in the morning till midday. You can also have west-facing panels to be exposed to the sun as it moves west in the afternoon.

Factors That Determine When To Use The East-West Orientation


If your electricity needs peak in the morning and evening, then East-West solar panel orientation is ideal.

In the morning, the eastward-facing solar panels will power your home as they are directly exposed to the sun. In the evening, the west solar panels have the sun and provide the power.

Solar Battery

If you have solar batteries, you can use the east-west orientation. The solar panels are exposed to the sun for a few hours at a time during the day.

During these times, they produce at maximum efficiency. If you are not at home during these hours, a battery system is ideal.

It stores the power that the panels produce and you can use it when you are back home.

How Much You Pay For Electricity

Mornings and evenings are high-demand times for electricity. Depending on where you live, electricity charges at high-demand times may be more expensive.

Thus, installing your solar panels in the east-west orientation can save you money. Use solar at these times and you will have a lower electricity bill at the end of the month.

Benefits Of Installing Your Solar Panels In The Right Orientation

Maximum production

Properly orienting solar panels produce at their maximum rating. The right orientation ensures that solar panels can capture the sun at its hottest and as it moves across the sky during the day.

As a result, solar panels will generate electricity efficiently. You can run all your appliances or store as much electricity as possible in your solar batteries.

Additionally, at maximum production, you can make large savings on your electricity bills. Also, you can get a quick return on your investment in solar panels.

Increase Savings On Your Electricity Bill

Most people install solar panels to save on their electricity bills. The more your electricity consumption, the larger the solar system you need.

The cost of solar panels varies with size. Large solar panels cost more. Thus, you will have to invest more money to acquire a suitable solar system.

When installed in the proper orientation, your solar panels generate more electricity than you require. It enables you to avoid using grid-connected electricity.

Proper orientation ensures that your solar system produces power at its rated capacity. IT allows you to save on your electricity bills easily.

Increase The Amount Of Electricity Exported To The Grid

A proper orientation ensures that your solar panels produce electricity efficiently.

Depending on where you live, you may be in a program that allows you to export your excess solar power to the grid.

The right orientation of your solar panels allows efficient production. As a result, you will have a lot of power to export to the grid.

The more power you export, the more you are paid for it. The amount paid for the export of excess solar power to the grid reduces your electricity.

Therefore, the more power you export to the grid, the more you get paid. You also save more on your electricity bill and get a faster return on your investment.

Energy Independence

Solar panels provide you with a means to escape the ever-rising electricity bills. Thus, you can live off-grid easily. Or, you become less reliant on electricity retailers and become energy independent.

Proper solar panel orientation goes a long way in ensuring that you are energy independent. The wrong orientation decreases the electricity production capacity of your solar system. Consequently, you will still need power from the grid.

However, the right orientation ensures that your panels produce as much power as you need to live off-grid.

Little Maintenance Required

When your solar panels are installed correctly and in the proper orientation, they will produce power as you expect.

However, when they are wrongly installed, they will produce less power. To rectify the situation, you will call technicians to check, fix or re-install the solar panels. It may cost you more money to solve the problem.

Proper installation in the right orientation ensures that your solar panels can work without the need for maintenance over their lifetime.

Thus, proper orientation reduces the cost of running and maintaining your solar system.

Factors To Consider When Installing Solar Panels

Location Of The House And Roof Inclination

The location of the home you are installing solar panels is a must-know. You may even require the latitude coordinates of the location to help you determine if you are in the north or south hemisphere.

The angle of roof inclination is also essential. It helps you to determine the best slant for your solar panels installed on the roof.

With the right location coordinates and the right angle of the roof, you can easily install solar panels in the correct orientation.

The proper roof angle enhances the absorption of the sun’s rays by the panels and enhances the electricity production capacity of the panels.

Your Power Consumption

Before you install solar panels, you must find out how much power is needed in the house. It helps you to decide the size of the solar system you need.

The higher the power consumption, the larger the size of the solar PV system you require. Large solar panel systems produce sufficient electricity to make you energy independent. Thus you can go live off-grid.

If you are only looking to lower your electricity bill, you need a smaller size solar system. It helps you to minimize electricity consumption based on your lifestyle. If you are home during the day, a small solar system will power your appliances. You can then use grid electricity in the evening.

Sun Exposure

Before you install solar panels, consider the amount of sun that reaches your roof. Shade, trees, and the landscape around your home may impact the amount of sun that reaches your solar system. The more sun your solar system receives the more electricity it produces.

Depending on your location and roof design some parts of the roof may be exposed to the sun longer. Or, others may receive the sun at different times.

For your solar panels to produce power efficiently, they must have extended sun exposure. Proper installation and orientation ensure that your panels are exposed to the sun all day for efficient power production.

Your Installer

In Australia, your solar panel retailer and installer must be Clean Energy Council accredited.

An accredited installer will sell you accredited solar panels. There are many types of solar panels on the market. High-quality solar panels are accredited, while poor-quality ones are not.

Additionally, the government runs rebate and low or interest-free loan programs for new customers. You can only enjoy these programs through an accredited installer.

An accredited installer has proven their expertise. Thus you will be hiring an expert to install the solar panels on your roof. The installation will be correct and your solar panels will work efficiently.

How Long You Will Live In The House

Solar power is a long-term project. Once installed, solar panels can work for up to 25 years. Thus, you should ensure that you will live in the house for a long time.

Also, investment in a solar PV system is financially intensive. Usually, it takes up to seven years to recover your investment depending on the size of the system you install.

Therefore, if you install solar panels, you need to make sure that you will live in the home for many years.

Long-term use of solar power will help you save on your electricity bills, reduce your carbon footprint and give you energy independence to go off-grid.

Hire A Pro To Install Your Solar Panels In The Correct Orientation For Your Location is a free tool that connects homeowners to accredited solar panel installers.

At the top of the tool, enter your zip code.

Then, fill out the subsequent form to provide more information on your house size and electricity consumption.

You will then receive three quotes from professional installers with no obligation to hire them. Compare the quotes and choose one of the installers to install the solar system for you.