One of the questions we get asked at virtually all MASH info meetings is: “I don’t have a north-facing roof, is it still worth getting panels if they face another direction?
The short answer is generally YES.
That’s because solar panel efficiencies have improved so much that you only lose 10-15% of your solar production if your panels aren’t facing north. In fact, depending on the time of day when you use most electricity, you may get a faster payback on your solar investment if your panels face east or west (for morning or late afternoon heavy electricity users).
6-7 years ago…
Back in the days of high feed-in-tariffs of 60 cents per kilowatt hour, everyone was trying to export as much of their solar to the grid as possible. People were doing funny things like the vacuum cleaning at midnight just so they could put as much of their solar power back into the grid as possible and hopefully get a nice big fat cheque from their electricity retailer!
For those lucky people still on the high feed-in-tariff, they will still be aiming to maximise the amount of electricity they can send to the grid. But for the rest of us, it’s a completely different story now…
Where the smart money is these days
These days if you are getting solar installed, it’s a different game. The smart thing to do is to maximise your self-consumption, i.e. use your appliances during the daytime when your solar is pumping out the power, rather than sending it to the grid.
That’s because the net benefit of using your own power – rather than buying it – is around 14 cents per kilowatt hour. (I worked that out based on most people paying around 25 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity from the grid and getting around 11 cents per kilowatt hour for solar exports).
Match the way your panels face with your usage
Now, if you are the sort of household that gets up early in the morning, heads off to work/school, and gets back late afternoon your biggest use of electricity will be at those times of the day when you are home. And those are the times when the sun is in the east (i.e. morning) and west (afternoon). So, in this situation it would probably be advisable to get solar panels placed on your east and west facing roofs (if these are available).
However, if you are the sort of people who spend most of the day at home – or have timers on your appliances set to run in the midday of the day – then panels installed on a north facing roof would probably be the best way to go.
Shading – new technology, new solutions and lower costs
A final note: Shading often comes up as a big question for people. The good news is that the technology has really improved in this area – and costs for solutions have come down dramatically. Through the MASH bulk-buy, we sell optimizers that minimise the impact of shading on your system targeting only those affected panels and are way cheaper than micro inverters.
Find out more at a MASH Info Meeting
If you are interested in finding out more about going solar with the MASH community solar bulk-buy, then come to one of our info meetings. Gisborne Community Centre on Wednesday 18 September or Castlemaine Town Hall on Thursday 19 September 2019. Both meetings are from 6.30pm-8.00pm.
The MASH community solar bulk-buy is owned and organised by the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation that supports 13 councils across central and north western Victoria with projects that help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Get in touch
To learn more and register, visit mash.org.au or call 1300 466 274.
This article was written by Jo Kaptein, manager of the bulk-buy programs organised by the CVGA, and published in the MidExpress in a regular column called ‘Solar Matters.’