If you are considering getting solar panels installed the first thing you need to check is what direction your roof is facing. For solar photovoltaic panels to perform at their best they need to face in a southerly direction. The greater off south your roof is the less suitable it will be for solar.
Free solar installers usually insist that your roof has to face due south although a greater consideration can often be the size of your roof. For free solar even if you have a perfectly south facing roof but it is too small then you will not likely qualify for free solar panels. You can find out how much roof space you need for solar panels to determine how many panels you could install and how much electricity they could produce.
The easiest and most accurate way to determine which direction your house faces is to use a compass. Most people however will not have a compass handy so the next best way is to check using Google Maps and type in your postcode and search. You will then need to locate your house on the map. The map is orientated to the north so if your roof faces towards the bottom of the screen then you have a south facing roof.
As I mentioned earlier the free solar companies will usually require that your roof faces south to within a few degrees. Whilst some installers are able to install on a house that has a roof facing as far as west-south-west or east-south-east they will still choose a perfectly south facing aspect over one that is not.
Having a perfectly south facing roof is only a prerequisite for free solar. If you are looking to invest in solar photovoltaics then your roof orientation is not as big of a factor. If your roof faced south-east rather than south your panels would still produce 96% of their optimum. In fact you could point the panels horizontally flat facing up to the sky and still get 90% capacity. To put this into monetary figures for a paid system this would still mean you would earn £900 a year rather than £1,000 a year in solar panel grants.
A home will usually have at least two aspects, on facing one direction and the other part of the roof facing in the opposite direction. This means that you could have an ideally suite north/south facing roof or a less optimal east/west facing roof or more usually something in between the two. If you are buying your own system there are more options to take advantage of a less than optimal roof. Options that include splitting the panels onto different facing roof aspects by using micro-inverters rather than a single inverter for the entire (string) system.
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