The best orientation for solar panels in Australia is north, between a 30 to 45-degree tilt, with location deciding the best angle within this range. Correctly orientated solar panels maximise your system’s performance. This is because the electricity your panels produce is proportional to the amount of direct sunlight they receive.
Does solar panel orientation matter?
Solar panel orientation is crucial for maximising their power output, making it essential to optimise their positioning. The efficiency of your solar panels depends on how much sunlight they receive. Photovoltaic (PV) cells in the panels absorb sunlight and convert it to electricity. To maximise output, solar panels should be in a position to take advantage of full sunlight whenever possible. Determining the optimal panel position is done by factoring in the location and latitude of your house and adjusting the degree of tilt.
Optimised solar panel orientation is vital for households that consume more energy. Higher efficiency translates to greater overall savings over time. Correct orientation, including placement and degree of tilt, is essential for an efficient, sustainable energy system. When placing your solar panels, other factors such as climate and cleanliness may also contribute towards the overall efficiency of your system.
How does solar panel orientation affect efficiency?
The efficiency of solar panels is significantly influenced by their orientation, as it directly affects the amount of sunlight they receive. When solar panels are not facing the ideal direction, they still generate electricity but at a lower efficiency rate. In fact, incorrect positioning can lead to a loss of 10-20% of their energy production.
The time of year also plays a role in the amount of sunlight that solar panels receive. During summer, solar panels receive more direct sunlight because the sun is higher in the sky and there is less frequent cloud cover. If you are considering installing solar panels, checking the direction your roof faces is important. This will help determine the optimal placement that maximises sunlight exposure.
The surrounding environment can also impact the performance of your solar panels. If your roof is situated under a tree, debris falling from the tree may cause damage to the panels. Additionally, natural rainfall brings dirt and pollen, which can accumulate on the panels, reducing the panel’s ability to absorb the sun’s energy.
You should also consider shading when looking at the orientation of your solar panels. If the north side of your home is shaded by a large tree or neighbouring building for most of the day, then it’s best to orient your panels to where they can access direct sunlight or choose another location and tilt them north.
If the tilt on solar panels is too flat, it can result in water becoming static and drying, forming a barrier between the glass and the sun. When the glass is obstructed, it significantly reduces the system's ability to generate power. Panels that are laid too flat are also prone to more debris accumulating, and obstructing sunlight.
At Plico, we offer both roof-mounted and tiled panel setups – whatever works best to get you those solar savings!
What is the best direction for solar panels in Australia?
The optimal direction for solar panels in Australia is typically north, although this can vary depending on your specific location. Australia is situated in the Southern Hemisphere, so the sun's path across the sky is from north to south. By positioning your solar panels to face north, you maximise their exposure to sunlight throughout the day. However, if your roof does not face north, installing solar panels and generating significant electricity is still possible. You can opt for east and west-facing solar panels to ensure you get the early morning and late afternoon sunshine. Just keep in mind that their efficiency may be reduced if they are not directly facing the sun. Installing a solar panel tracking system is the best way to address this challenge, if your budget allows.
What is a solar panel tracking system?
A solar panel tracking system automatically adjusts solar panels to follow the sun's path, maximising sunlight collection and electricity generation. There are two types: single-axis trackers move in one direction (east to west or north to south), while dual-axis trackers move in both directions for continuous tracking throughout the day.
Solar panel tracking systems work with fixed and adjustable panels. Fixed-tilt panels are mounted at a static angle, while adjustable-tilt panels can be manually changed. However, solar panel tracking systems automate this process, ensuring optimal panel positioning.
By increasing electricity generation by up to 30%, solar panel tracking systems offer higher output but are costlier than fixed-tilt panels. It allows you to make the most of your solar panels in winter when the days are shorter. A solar panel tracking system also reduces the amount of debris, dirt, and other impediments that reduce efficiency.
Costs for these systems vary based on size and tracker type. The more affordable options are for smaller systems and cost around $4000, not including installation. On the higher end, solar tracking systems may cost as much as $30,000 or more upfront. Given the additional costs solar tracking systems bring, it’s important to do a thorough return on investment analysis before adding one to your system.
What is the best angle for solar panels in Australia?
The best angle for solar panels in Australia is generally a 30 to 45-degree tilt. This ensures the panels are as close to the latitude of your home as possible. However, you should research the optimal angle for your exact location. The degree of tilt will vary depending on your town or city's unique environment and positioning. For example, the recommended angle in Perth is 31.9 degrees, but in Melbourne, it’s 37.8 degrees.
Maximum sun exposure is not the only element affecting your solar panels' efficiency. Cleanliness can have a noticeable impact on panel performance. Clean solar panels are much more efficient than dirty ones, and natural rainfall is usually enough to keep the glass free from dirt and debris. However, if your panels are not tilted enough, water can become trapped by the edge of the glass. When dry, this water forms a layer of grime which can block your solar panels from the sun and reduce their efficiency.
There are solar panel tilt calculators that can give you the purported best angle for your area. The tilt of a roof is often adequate if the orientation is correct. A reputable installer will know the optimal angle to install solar panels in your area.
Does a solar battery affect the ideal orientation of your solar panels?
A solar battery helps even if your panels don’t face north, but orientation still matters. Solar batteries store excess electricity generated by your solar panels and utilise it when necessary. Maximising your solar panel input means more energy stored in the battery. To make the most of your solar battery, having your solar panels in the optimal position is advantageous. Especially if you can catch those early morning and late evening rays.
Although you don’t need a solar battery to use solar panels, they are one of the best ways to store solar energy. With a solar battery, you can significantly reduce your reliance on the main electrical grid. You will also achieve more flexibility when it comes to positioning your solar panels. Alternatively, you may want to consider being part of a virtual power plant so you can get paid for your generated energy.
If you have a question about solar panel maintenance or any other solar-related query, don’t hesitate to ask the friendly Plico team. You can fill out the form below or call us on 1300 175 426.