Facing solar panels north is not always the best option

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Facing solar panels north is not always the best option

Installing solar panels facing north is not always the best option, new research shows, and positioning them to face east or west could save $500 upon installation.

A cheaper, less powerful solar array can have the same impact on a home’s power consumption as a more powerful one facing north, according to research by Kirrilie Rowe, a UniSA PhD candidate in the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living Node of Excellence.

There are two reasons: peak usage times for electricity, and the amount of solar arrays trying to feed power into the grid during the middle of the day, which limits the amount of money home owners make for exporting power.

“There’s quite a lot of solar power entering the grid during the middle of the day,” Ms Rowe said.

“That’s not when people use most of their power.

“It peaks in the morning and dips in the middle of the day and peaks again in the afternoon.

“The tariff is decreasing for this reason, because the wider network doesn’t want the power.”

If facing east or west, a 5kw solar array would import about 5 per cent less power from the grid than a 6kw array facing north.

Ms Rowe said this meant if solar buyers knew when they used the most power and had the space available on their roof, they could save about $500 upon installation.

She said the continued rolling back of feed-in tariffs across Australia meant there was less reason to try to feed in unused power to the grid during the day.

“They’re now not getting paid for the power they export, and if they’re facing north, they’re also not using it,” Ms Rowe said. “If they face them towards the morning sun, it’ll correspond with their morning use, and if they face it toward the late afternoon sun they will get the late afternoon use.”

The industry has been shifting towards east-west orientation for some time, and Ms Rowe said the research would help cement the change. She recommended buyers talk to their installer about which way to face their panels.

“They’re the ones who know how they use electricity,” Ms Rowe said. “They will then be able to direct their installer if they have a roof with multiple facing roof spaces on it.”


SOURCE: Domain, Jim Malo, Sept 7 2020.

Facing solar panels north is not always the best option September 2020
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