What’s the Best Direction to Install Solar Panels?

Sep. 22, 2020

Once homeowners here in the Bay State begin to understand how solar energy works, they want to know more specific answers to questions, like “What direction should solar panels face in Massachusetts?” Even if you are already familiar with the benefits of installing solar panels, understanding the solar potential of your home is the first step in actually harnessing the energy of the sun.

So, does the direction of the sun affect solar absorption for solar panels? It absolutely does! This is one of the reasons why it is so important to partner with a solar installation contractor that knows the local climate and sun patterns, so that you can get the most renewable energy out of your new solar energy system. So, what is the best direction for solar panels to face?


South-Facing Solar Panels Provide the Most Solar Energy

No need to delay the answer you were looking for: Solar panels are best when installed in a south-facing direction. 

Understanding the way the sun moves across our skies is the first step to understanding why south is the best direction for solar panels. You may have heard movies like Shanghai Noon, and even the Game of Thrones series, quote the saying, “The sun rises in the east, and sets in the west”. So why not install solar panels facing in one of those directions? Because, though an angled rooftop that faces east may get fantastic sun exposure in the morning, as the sun reaches its peak in the afternoon solar production will decrease. Solar panels that face west will have the opposite problem—a lack of sun exposure in the morning, but great exposure in the evening. 

So, that leaves north and south, and choosing between these two directions to install your solar panels comes down the hemisphere we live in. Since North America is in the northern hemisphere, the pattern of the sun flies just to the south of the center of our skies (in the southern hemisphere, the sun flies just north of center). 

This gives south facing panels a slight advantage over the north, optimizing energy production over the course of a given day.

That doesn’t mean north-facing roofs are automatically disqualified from solar but our solar experts would want to take a close examination of your home’s roof and property layout to determine the solar potential and output.


Direction Isn’t the Only Factor for Solar Production

Though installing solar panels that face south is generally the best option for homes here in the Northeast, and in Massachusetts, it is important to factor in the other obstructions that may affect your solar production. Other obstructions to solar production can include:

  • High tree cover/shade

  • Large buildings or other homes

  • A roof that doesn’t have enough free mounting space

  • A roof with a steep angle 

In preparing a custom solar design for your home, we will take into consideration these additional obstructions and how it may impact your solar production potential. Where a rooftop system may not provide the most efficient production, a ground-mount system may be possible. In our over 4,000 solar installations throughout North Shore, Metro West, the Greater Boston Area, the South Shore, and Central Mass, we have found that some homes or businesses can still reap the benefits of solar by ground mounting their solar panels on unused land or property.


Have Questions About Solar Energy Production?

We want to make sure all of your questions are answered before you pull the trigger on solar installation. As the number one Massachusetts based solar installer, we know what it takes to design a system of solar panels that will maximize your solar energy production for decades to come, and we can help reduce your installation costs through all of the available rebates and incentives!

Is your roof right for solar? We can help you determine your solar potential. Call Boston Solar for a free solar quote at 617-858-1645 or get in touch here.

What’s the Best Direction to Install Solar Panels?

Is solar right for your home or business? Boston Solar can help you decide!

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