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South VS North facing solar panels - what's the difference?

Updated: Feb 22

The ideal positioning of solar panels to produce the greatest amount of energy depends on where you live. When installing solar panels in the UK, whether that be roof-mounted, ground-mounted or shed-mounted, At LPowered- we always recommended that the panels face south.

As the UK is in the northern hemisphere, south-facing panels will receive the most sun exposure throughout the day and, therefore, will produce more solar energy.

If you’re wondering what your options are for installing solar panels on your home, you can complete our free online form and receive a free quote from our specialists.



Do solar panels in the UK have to be south-facing?

There is no policy or legislation in the UK that states where solar panels must be placed. However, there are benefits of having solar panels placed in a certain position and at LPowered we will only fit panels where we deem appropriate and only if you will get a great output.

The aspect of a solar panel determines its efficiency. In the UK, it is recommended that solar panels are installed in a south-facing position in order to optimise sun exposure and therefore, maximise output. This is because the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, meaning that panels facing a southerly direction will have the most sunlight exposure during the day.

How much power do north-facing solar panels produce?

For a typical 3kWp solar photovoltaic (PV) system, north-facing panels will only produce approximately 1,145 kWh of electricity per year which many companies deem sufficient however at LPowered we don't feel our customers will gain enough benefit from this expected level of output so we would not fit, compared to, say, 1,361 kWh for a south-facing installation. So, north-facing panels don’t produce zero energy, but it is considerably less and something to seriously consider when selecting your installer to ensure that they are fitting an installation that is right for you and going to be beneficial.

How does this differ from south-facing solar panels?

The maximum yield from a north-facing solar panel in the UK is about 60%, compared to 80%-100% for south-facing panels.

Is it worth installing solar panels if you only have a north-facing roof?

While south-facing solar panels are recommended for properties in the UK, north-facing panels will still produce energy, but there will be a noticeable reduction in comparison to south-facing panels. In order to compensate for this, a larger collection of panels may be necessary. The time it will take for your PV system to pay back your investment will also be at least four years longer.

The orientation of solar panels is a significant factor in regard to their efficiency, but other factors also affect energy production. These include the level of shading, the angle of the panels, the size of the installation, and the shape and size of the panels.

Alternatives to a north-facing roof

Although roof-mounted is the most common domestic method of solar panel installation, there are other alternatives if you have limited roof space, a structurally weak roof, or a roof that doesn’t face south.

Ground-mounted solar panels are fixed into the ground via a racking system and are usually positioned slightly above the ground. They are traditionally found in large numbers, for example on solar farms.

This method of installing solar panels is typically a very efficient method of utilising solar power as they can be oriented and angled accurately to achieve the most sun exposure. Furthermore, they are easier to clean and maintain in comparison to roof-mounted panels.

What is the ideal angle and direction for solar panels in the UK?

As previously discussed, the angle of your solar panels is important. An accurately angled solar panel maximises its efficiency due to longer exposure to the sun during the day.

In the UK, the best angle and direction for a solar panel is between 20 and 50 degreesand south-facing. If the pitch of a panel falls out of this range it still generates energy, but not as efficiently.

What’s the ideal solar panel situation in the southern hemisphere?

As the UK is in the northern hemisphere, pointing your solar panels towards the south is advantageous, as they will face the equator.

So, what about those who live in the southern hemisphere? The answer is simple. Those who live in countries such as South Africa, Australia, or Argentina should preferably have their solar panels in a northern-facing position (i.e. facing the equator) in order to maximise their exposure to sunlight during the day.

Summary

If you are considering installing a solar PV system, it is important to ensure you are working with an installer that is knowledgeable and experienced in solar. Here at LPowered LTD we are just that! Call our experts today to ask any questions you would like answers to and book in for a survey to start your own solar journey.





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