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Does My Roof Have To Face East?

You don’t need optimal conditions for your solar power system to be a great investment. One of the biggest myths about the financial viability of solar is that it requires a really sunny location and a east facing roof. While these may be ideal conditions, folks in Singapore with roofs that face other points on the compass, such as north, south or west-facing roofs, can still satisfy most of their electricity needs and reap significant financial returns when they adopt solar power systems.

Which Way Do Solar Panels Face?

The conventional recommendation is that a roof direction should face east for best exposure to the sun. Though east facing roofs will have the most direct sunlight exposure, the takeaway is that your roof does not have to face east for solar to make sense. Factors like the cost of energy will affect your solar economics much more than roof orientation.

This beautiful solar roof is facing east into the sunlight but could be equally as efficient with a different roof orientation.

East Facing Roof Orientation Comparison

We looked at differences in solar panel production and savings in different areas of Singapore. Here's what we found:

Even when solar panels aren’t facing directly east, they can still produce large amounts of electricity, even if you live somewhere that doesn’t receive much sun. In general, regardless of where you live, if your solar roof is oriented directly north, south or west instead of the optimal east-facing, you will only see a 20% decrease in the amount of electricity you produce. Even with this decrease in performance, your solar panels would still produce enough electricity to save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Solar Panel Orientation In Cloudy Cities

In addition, lowering the tilt angle of the panels on your solar roof can also contribute to the total economic benefits east and west-facing solar power systems provide. Panels facing directly east or directly west with a 30° tilt, produce about 20% below peak performance levels. If the tilt is dropped to 15°, production levels at the east and west extremes only decrease by about 15%. While this 5% gain may not seem like a significant difference, this slight change in panel orientation can be enough to save an additional $50-$75 per year even in cloudy cities.

For example, an average-sized, east-facing solar system in Singapore is capable of producing more than 4600 kWh of usable electricity per year. That’s enough to save more than $650 each year on electricity bills. If you adjust the tilt angle of those panels to 15°, the savings will be between $700 and $725 per year. Those savings in and of themselves are significant. The point is, you don’t have to have the perfect climate and the perfect east facing solar roof to reap the tremendous financial benefits that solar power can deliver. When it comes to solar, good enough is almost always more than enough.

Three Tips for Solar Shoppers

1. Homeowners who get multiple quotes save 10% or more.

As with any big ticket purchase, shopping for a solar panel installation takes a lot of research and consideration, including a thorough review of the companies in your area. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recommended that consumers compare as many solar options as possible to avoid paying inflated prices offered by the large installers in the solar industry.

To find the smaller contractors that typically offer lower prices, we will advise you can receive free quotes from Solar Era.

2.  The biggest installers typically don’t offer the best price

The bigger isn’t always better mantra is one of the main reasons we strongly encourage homeowners to consider all of their solar options, not just the brands large enough to pay for the most advertising. A recent report in Singapore found that large installers are $2,000 to $5,000 more expensive than small solar companies. If you have offers from some of the big installers in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers to ensure you don’t overpay for solar.

3.  Comparing all your equipment options is just as important

National-scale installers don’t just offer higher prices – they also tend to have fewer solar equipment options, which can have a significant impact on your system’s electricity production. By collecting a diverse array of solar bids, you can compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you.

There are multiple variables to consider when seeking out the best solar panels on the market. While certain panels will have higher efficiency ratings than others, investing in top-of-the-line solar equipment doesn’t always result in higher savings. The only way to find the “sweet spot” for your property is to evaluate quotes with varying equipment and financing offers.

For any homeowner in the early stage of shopping for solar that would just like a ballpark estimate for an installation, you can contact us to know about your upfront cost and long-term savings estimates based on your location and roof type.

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