Making solar panels face south is the age old technique and still the best possible advice even today. But what if you don't have a south facing roof available for the purpose, shouldn't you be considering solar? You should know that it's not true anymore, with the advancement in technology and easing of markets solar has become much more accessible and that opens up a lot of possibilities for your roof that we are just about to discuss.
As far as the best direction for your solar panels are concerned, let’s just consider some facts first - The absolute basics; The sun rises in the east, and sets in the west, this means:
East-facing panels will generate more power in the morning.
West-facing panels will generate more in the late afternoon.
South-facing solar panels will generate the most energy overall, but less in the morning and late afternoon compared to east and west-facing panels respectively.
Tariffs - and what could work best for you
South-facing panels work well when you have a standard slab-wise rate structure (The most general form - Very common in case of residential consumers) with your electricity company. This rate system charges you based on how much energy you use. If you’re a big-time energy user, you’re charged a higher rate than those who use less energy overall.
On an average, east-facing panels will produce about 15% less energy per year compared to south facing panels. West-facing ones perform slightly better, with the sun being more intense during the afternoons. But, a working household can self-consume more solar energy with east and west-facing panels, because they produce more energy during peak hours, accelerating their system’s payback compared to a south-facing one.
Peak hours are when the demand for energy is the highest, usually considered between 9.00 AM to 12 noon and again 6.00 PM to 10.00 PM in the late evenings.
Also, for time-of-day (TOD) tariffs, west-facing panels might make more sense. This is because time-of-day tariffs mean you will be charged more for electricity during peak hours, rather on usage volume.
Peak use times are when most people will need and use power. For most places, this is highest in the late afternoon or early evening. This is because it’s generally when we return from school or work and run the AC, cook dinner, do homework, watch TV, and any other activities that might require electricity for light and other power needs. During this time, the sun will be heading towards west and your solar panels are able to capture sunlight during the most critical hours for the best energy production.
The advantage here is that you use the power that your panels are producing live. When you do this, you avoid the need to draw extra energy from the grid, which means you won’t be charged the higher utility rates.
It used to be true a few years ago, that if you couldn’t install panels on a south-facing roof, then a solar power system wasn’t worth it. But, now that prices of solar power systems have dropped so much, you can get a fantastic return on investment from east or west-facing panels, or even a combination of south, east and west. If, you have a TOD based tariff or in case of households, not opting (or not eligible) for net-metering, east-west panels may be your best bet for fast returns on solar.
Talk to a professional about the best panel direction for your use
The choice of solar installation on your rooftop will greatly depend upon your usage and your existing tariff structure. Speak to an expert to find out what could work best for your roof-type. While we can’t predict the future, but we here at Green Enpower stay up-to-date about what’s to come in the utility sector. That way we’re able to serve and advise you on making the best decision to save more.