LA Solar Group


Get the Most Bang for Your Buck: Understanding Solar Panel Direction


Energy derived from solar panels is clean, green, and cost-effective. Harnessing solar power is a great way to increase your grid independence and produce renewable energy. However, merely having solar panels installed is not enough to maximize your energy production.

To take full advantage of a solar panel system, you need to ensure that your solar panels operate at their highest possible potential. How can you do that? It’s easy! There are plenty of simple steps that you can take to increase your energy efficiency, most notably choosing the best direction for solar panels to face.

Solar panel direction plays a vital role in determining your solar system’s energy efficiency. The direction your solar panels face will determine their effectiveness at absorbing solar energy and total solar output. You want to verify that your system is operating at its highest energy efficiency. Why? The better your energy efficiency, the more money you save in the long run.

 The best direction for solar panels varies depending on your geographic region. For example, the best direction for solar panels to face in the Southern Hemisphere will be different than that of the Northern Hemisphere. In the United States, the best direction for solar panels to face is to the south. The reason for that has to do with how the sun rises and sets.

Solar Panel Installation

The U.S. is located in the Northern Hemisphere region. Countries in this region have the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. Thus, the sun moves across the southern part of the sky during the day. Since the sun moves across the southern part of the sky, south-facing solar panels will get more direct sunlight throughout the day. More sunlight means more solar energy produced and more savings for you! Therefore, the best direction for solar panels to face is south.

While south-facing solar panels statistically produce more energy, there are benefits to other solar panel directions. Solar panels that face the west have their own select set of advantages. West-facing solar panels have value in states that utilize time-of-use (TOU) plans. With TOU plans, the best direction for solar panels to face is to the west. Nearly every state and the District of Columbia offer TOU plans. There are only two states that do not use TOU plans – Rhode Island and Montana. 

When discussing TOU plans, you must first understand time-of-use billing. Time-of-use billing means that you are billed according to the time of day in which you use electricity. For most people, peak electricity usage is in the early evening when the sun begins to set. West-facing solar panels face the setting sun, so they receive direct sunlight during these high usage hours. 

If you have west-facing solar panels, then you will be using energy from your solar system during high usage hours. By relying on your solar system for energy, you will no longer have to pay your utility company for electricity during peak hours. You can also receive net metering credits from your utility company.

Net metering credits are provided to solar energy users for the electricity that their system adds to the grid. It is a billing agreement that allows you to receive credits to your utility bill due to your solar production, saving you money!  

Almost every state has implemented some time-of-use plans, including California. If you’re looking for the best direction for solar panels in California, you can install southwest-facing solar panels.

With southwest-facing panels, you can reap the rewards of both south and west directions! This is applicable in California and any other state in the U.S. that offers time-of-use plans.Now, let’s consider that your roof does not face either south or west. Is it still cost-effective to get solar panels? The answer is yes!

There are many ways to problem-solve the direction of your roof. One possible solution is to use more solar panels. With more solar panels, you will have the potential to collect more energy. This more substantial collection of panels will supplement the decreased energy harnessed. Even though your solar panels will collect less energy, you will have more of them. This creates a balanced energy efficiency for your system.

Another option available to you is the mounting of your solar panels somewhere besides your roof. For example, you could mount the solar panels to a wall or garage that faces the south or west. With this method, your modules can still utilize the best solar panel directions. 

Not sure about installing solar panels on your walls or garage? That’s okay! There are other options to consider. You might choose to have ground-mounted solar panels instead. In this situation, your solar panels are mounted to the ground rather than the roof or walls. Keep in mind that your yard must be fairly large to pursue this option.

With ground-mounted solar panels, you can ensure that you’re taking advantage of the best direction for solar panels to face. That would mean facing your panels south, west, or southwest. Installing a solar system in your home or business is a huge decision with a long list of benefits

Going solar helps the environment tremendously, but it should also help you, too! At LA Solar Group, we want to ensure that our customers are receiving the greatest possible value from their solar systems. To do so means providing you with the tools and information to make beneficial and educated decisions.

Something as simple as choosing the right solar panel direction can save you money in the long run. For more information about going solar and solar panel installation, visit our website