what direction should solar panels face

What Direction Should Solar Panels Face?

If solar panels are getting light, they will produce energy. Period. 

It doesn’t matter what direction they face for this to happen. However, just producing electricity is different than producing as much of it as possible. 

And when it comes to how much electricity panels can produce, then the direction they face definitely matters.

Pointing panels in the wrong direction will definitely have a bad effect on their efficiency. So, if you want to cut your electric bills as much as possible, it pays to understand which direction your panels should face. 

Fortunately there is an easy answer here. Find the answer just below and get an overview of the best direction your panels should face.

What Direction Should Solar Panels Face?

The short answer to that is to face your solar panel to the South. This is assuming you are in the US (or at least the northern hemisphere). When they are on a south facing roof, that will let you get the most out of your solar panels. 

Solar panels should face south because that is where they will get the most direct sunlight. Most of the time, homeowners will save the most money on their electric bills and get the best return on their investment by facing their solar panels south instead of in any other direction.

A possible exception to this is if you have a south facing roof that is blocked by a lot of tree cover. Also, if the south facing part of your roof won’t support many solar panels, you may need to look for other options.

Sunlight In The Northern Hemisphere

The United States is in the northern hemisphere, which means the sun moves across the sky to the South. This means that, in general, solar panels should be placed on south-facing roofs to get the most sunlight exposure.

As a matter of fact, in places north of the Tropic of Cancer, which is 23.4°N Latitude, the sun always moves across the southern half of the sky all year. This, of course, includes the U.S. 

Exactly Which “South” Should You Use?

But knowing which South exactly can be quite confusing. So which South should you use?

If you point south with a compass, you will be directed towards the Earth’s magnetic South Pole. However, this is not the same as the geographical South Pole, which is the place marked with the coordinates 90° South on globes and world maps.

To maximize solar exposure, you should direct our solar panels toward the geographical South. Not the magnetic South. 

Should They Face Due South or Southwest/Southeast?

But should you face it directly to the South, or in another direction such as southwest or southeast? 

As long as your solar panels are facing south, they will be working at their best during peak daylight hours, when the sun is most high in the sky. On sunny days, when the sun is higher up in the sky, south-facing solar panels will get a bit less energy.

On the other hand, if you put your solar panels facing East, you will get more electricity in the morning. If you put them facing West, you will get more electricity in the afternoon.

However, all things considered, you just want your panels facing due south. That’s going to give you the overall best production out of your solar panels.

In fact, there is a study that shows solar panels that face southwest or southeast will usually produce about 8% less power than the same panels on a roof that faces south.

Bottom line here, if you want to get the most production possible out of your solar panels, all else being equal, you want them on the south side of your roof.