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Does My Solar Array Need to Face South?

Does My Solar Array Need to Face South?

Solar Power EscondidoIn the northern hemisphere, a solar electric system tilted toward the south will produce more electricity than a solar array pointing a different direction but not as much more as you might think.

Most solar arrays are mounted on roof tops so the pitch or angle of the array is determined by the pitch of the roof. In southern California most residential roofs have a 5/12 pitch or about 23 degrees. So if you are looking into purchasing a solar system for your home chances are that the array will be pitched at about 23 degrees.

So what difference does it make the array isn’t facing south? Well, in North County San Diego here are the numbers, these are similar for the rest of southern California as well. Due south or 180 degrees produces the most electricity, due east or 90 degrees on the same roof will produce 83.4% of the south facing array. The same solar array facing west or 270 degrees will produce 88.7% of south facing. And what about north facing? Well, north facing will produce 67.5% of south facing (almost 70% of the energy produced by a solar array on a optimal azimuth — 180 degrees). So if you don’t have a roof surface that faces directly south, don’t worry you can still switch to solar for your energy needs.  You’ll lose just over 10 % and 15% for west and east facing roofs respectively and just over 30% on a north facing roof.

The cost solar has come down so much in last 10 years and the cost of electricity from the utility has gone up so much during the same period that building a solar array on a north facing roof in southern California makes financial sense. That’s right  — a solar system on a north facing roof makes financial sense! Southern California gets some of the best sunshine in the country, more of it and with fewer clouds than almost anywhere else. Of course if you’re from San Diego,  Orange County, Riverside County or LA you knew that, but has it ever occurred to you that you could turn all that beautiful sunshine into electricity and power your whole life. Well you can.

Here’s an interesting little fact. On a 4/12 pitched roof (18.4 degree tilt) a north facing roof in San Diego California will produce as much electricity as a south facing roof in Chicago (same pitch). So if you live in southern California why haven’t you gone solar yet?

If you’re not powering your life with sunshine, Solar Symphony can help. Call us we’d love to hear from you.