Do Solar Panels Have to Face South?

The usage of solar panels among households is on the rise, as such a renewable energy source is environmentally friendly and more cost-effective than other alternatives. 

That said, upon installation, the most important thing is their effectiveness. 

Solar photovoltaic panels capture the light from the sun in order to turn it into energy, meaning that they work best when you position them under direct sunlight. 

Hence, one of the most common questions people have is – do solar panels have to face south? If you would like to learn more about solar panels and how they operate, SolarDorm has you covered.

Do Solar Panels Have to Face South

Do Solar Panels Have to Face South?

The placement of solar panels that you install on the roof greatly affects how much energy they can produce. 

Therefore, south-facing solar panels are the ideal option for most homeowners in the northern hemisphere

That said, a solar system facing another side of the compass can still be efficient and economically viable and generate enough energy to meet your daily needs. Let’s get into more details.

Solar Panel Placement

An important thing to note regarding solar panels is that they work best when the sun is shining directly on them. If the sun shines at a particular angle, the panel will still generate electricity but will be less effective. 

Hence, the south-facing panels are ideal for houses in the northern hemisphere as the panels are able to harness most sunshine annually. If the panels are angled towards the east or west, the energy production will be lower, and if they are placed directly on the east and west, it will be significantly less.

Still, east and west-facing panels can also perform well, depending on the needs of your household. However, solar panels facing north are not an ideal option. Every day, the sun travels from east to west, staying lower or higher in the sky, which means it is at an angle most of the time. 

The angle of the solar panels is another important factor to consider and is determined by geographical latitude. The ideal angle for the solar panel in the US is between 30 and 40 degrees. Such an angle can influence the power output based on climatic and environmental factors as well. 

Read more: How to Power Solar Lights Without Sun

More about solar panel placement 

More about solar panel placement 

Placing south-facing solar panels is also an excellent option if you plan on installing a battery storage system to produce as much power as possible during the day and reduce reliance on the power grid. 

Aside from roof orientation, there are several other factors to consider when planning to power your home using solar panel systems, including assessing the solar potential at your place and estimating your solar electricity needs.

Solar Panel DirectionPower Loss
South Maximum efficiency 
North 30%

What if you have to place the solar panels facing north?

In some cases, north-facing solar systems can be the only option, generally due to deficient roof space. However, the production of energy in such instances will be low. Still, this doesn’t mean you have to give up on solar panels. What is recommended in such cases is opting for ground-based solar panels. 

What else influences the solar panel’s cost-effectiveness?

While roof orientation impacts the efficiency of solar panels, the cost of electricity in your country and available incentives play a bigger role in terms of cost-effectiveness.

Moreover, the electric utility rate structure also has an influence. This is because southwest-facing panels generate the most cost-effective energy on peak demand in the afternoon and evening. 

Effectiveness GoalBest Solar Panel Direction
Highest electric bill saving South
Maximum electricity production South 
Making use of net metering South
Impact of TOU pricing structure Southwest 

Also read: What to Do With Broken Solar Panels?


After reading this article, now you know why do solar panels have to face south. South-facing solar systems are the most efficient, providing the most energy. However, if that is not a possible option for you, alternate placements can also work well based on your household needs. 

Whether you plan on using solar panels for domestic or commercial use, finding the ideal location is crucial to make the most out of them.

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