What Direction Should Solar Panels Face in Ireland?

What Direction Should Solar Panels Face in Ireland

If you’re serious about reaping the benefits of renewable energy, then knowing what direction solar panels should face in Ireland is important. It’s one of the important things to consider when installing a PV system. The direction of solar panel arrays can dramatically increase or impede their efficiency, and that’s why in Ireland, the best direction solar panels should face is south-facing. If you want to inch closer to self-sufficiency, you need to make maximum use of those precious daylight hours.

There’s never been a better time to invest in solar panel technology. In 2022, planning exception laws were introduced that removed the limit on how many solar panels homeowners can install on their rooftops. In 2023, a zero rate of VAT was introduced for the supply and installation of solar panels in Ireland.
As mentioned, the best direction for solar panels is south. “However, you’ll also need to consider the best angle for solar panels in Ireland,” said Martin Desmond, Wizer’s Managing Director. “Shallow angles work well during the summer months, while steeper tilts will produce more electricity during the darker winter months.”

Need help making sense of solar panel orientation? Read on for everything you need to know. 

Solar Panel Orientation 

The orientation of solar panels plays a big role in their installation. Orientation means individual panels receive as much sunlight as possible during daylight hours. This makes them more efficient and ensures a usable supply of electricity you can use to power your home. However, it’s not the only thing you need to consider. Location, latitude, and environmental factors all play a part.

Is Orientation Important for Solar Panels?

What direction should solar panels face in Ireland? It is a common misconception that panels should only face south; in fact, east-west mixed systems can be just as effective. The truth is that while having panels facing south will produce more energy annually than say an east/west facing system, the southern system will do most of its generation in the central 4 hours of the day, while the east/west system will spread the energy generated more evenly across each day. The result of this is that while a south-facing system produces more energy, it is often the case that you will use more energy from an east- or west-facing system than you possibly could from a south-facing system. Even north-facing panels are now being installed, as global simulation studies show that a north-facing panel will produce in the range of 50–60% of that of a south-facing panel. People are surprised when this is explained, and the simple truth is that if you install no panels, you get no return, so it becomes a case of using it or losing it when it comes to suboptimal roof directions. Now that homeowners are free to cover more of their roofs without seeking planning permission, this isn’t as much of an issue.  

Do Solar Panels Need to be Angled? 

Now that you know what direction is best for solar panels, you need to think about the tilt angle. Generally speaking, solar panels should be angled at between 30 and 45 degrees. For most homeowners in Ireland, an angle of 30 degrees should be sufficient. Shallow angles tend to perform better in the summer, while steeper angles make the most of the limited daylight hours during the winter.

Other Factors That Affect Solar Panel Orientation 

It’s worth remembering that the angle of the sun isn’t the same throughout the year. During the winter, the sun sits lower in the sky. During the colder seasons, solar panels with a steeper angle will capture sunlight more effectively and generate more electricity. That being said, you don’t need to adapt to these changes as the seasons change. For best results, stick to an angle of 30 degrees for a consistent year-round supply of electricity. Do solar panels work when it’s cloudy? Overcast days aren’t going to cause you too much trouble, with efficiency only taking a minor hit.
While house orientation for solar panels is important, your surroundings are also something to think about. Do you live in a wooded area? Even a tree-lined street can produce partial shading. If your solar panels are regularly in shadow, they’re not going to be particularly effective. This can limit your installation options, but there are ways around the problem.  

Where Can I Install Solar Panels On My Property?

This all depends on your property and exact location. If architectural elements mean only the north-facing surface of your roof is available, a rooftop installation probably isn’t practical, but if you have two roof spaces and one happens to be north, then the advice is to maximise the better available roof area and place the balance of panels on the northern-facing roof. We cannot move our roof in any direction, so it’s about balancing the system across the available spaces. Nowadays, ground-mounted systems are a practical and affordable alternative.

Rooftop Installation

In Ireland, around 50,000 private dwellings have rooftop solar panel systems. By 2030, the Irish government aims to up this number by completing 250,000 rooftop installations. In the vast majority of cases, a rooftop installation is always the best approach. Although you’re less restricted when it comes to the number of panels you can install, roof orientation will still impact things like panel inclination. Nonetheless, rooftop arrays are one of the most affordable and practical solutions out there. They’re easy to fit and can be adapted to most buildings, working well on flat and pitched roofs alike.

Ground Installation

In the rare event that a rooftop installation isn’t possible, you still have options. Ground-mounted PV systems are something to consider if you have sufficient space in your garden. The greater the area you have to work with, the more panels you can install. That being said, there are some drawbacks to this approach. Solar panels need a firm base or foundation system. The roof of your home offers a ready-made foundation. However, the same doesn’t apply to a typical lawn. If you’re thinking about ground-mounted solar panels in Limerick or elsewhere, you’ll need to accept that this brings civil work requirements not needed for roof installation, like cable trenching from the ground mount to the fuseboard location. Conventionally, these would have been mounted on concrete plinths, but these days there are very durable, nonconcrete-requiring options available, of which we can advise.

So, What Direction Should Solar Panels Face in Ireland?

For maximum efficiency, your solar panels should be facing east, west, or south, ideally. This is much easier if your building has a flat roof. South-facing panels will generate the most electricity. However, panels facing southwest or southeast can produce similar levels, with a production shortfall of only 5%. On a flat roof, the east-west systems get to use 100% of the roof space, while the south will only use 55–60% of the roof space because of the spacing needed behind the southern panels to allow for shading, which isn’t a concern with east-west-facing flat roof systems.  Panels facing a southwest direction will typically produce more electricity during the afternoon and early evening. Those that are facing a south-east direction will generate more electricity during the morning.
 
East and west-facing panels produce around 20% less electricity than south-facing ones. However, this isn’t necessarily a major drawback. East-facing panels produce a significant amount of electricity during the morning, while west-facing panels generate more during the evening. As these are the times when a typical household needs the most electricity, they’re a practical choice for an on-demand supply. Wherever you’re installing your PV system, understanding how to clean solar panels and carrying out occasional maintenance will ensure maximum efficiency.

Ready to Reap the Rewards of Solar Panels?

Are solar panels worth it in Ireland? Provided you have sufficient roof space, solar panels are an easy way to slash your energy expenditure and commit to an eco-friendly future. Looking for a trusted solar panel installer? Wizer Energy is on hand to help. Since 2015, we’ve carried out more than 2,000 installations across Ireland. As well as domestic and commercial PV installations, you’ll find a full range of renewable solutions. Interested in EV chargers? Talk to us about the Zappi charger in Ireland installation.  
 
Need some guidance on deciding how many solar panels you’ll need to meet your electricity needs? Want to talk about other energy-efficient solutions? Get in touch with Wizer Energy today. Alternatively, give us a call at 083 080 0855.

Author Bio

Slaven Litera

Having worked as a high-voltage power technician since 2007, Slaven Litera is Wizer’s Director of Operations. With over 15 years of experience in both commercial and domestic high voltage systems, Slaven made the transition to renewable energy in 2017. During his tenure as the lead engineer at one of Ireland’s biggest solar panel installation companies, Slaven provided end-to-end services. From pre-installation site reviews, to full commissioning and testing of new power systems, Slaven has done it all. In fact, throughout his career, Slaven has overseen and installed over 1000 individual solar PV installations amounting to over 1.2MW of solar generation! Holding electrical qualifications in multiple European countries, he continues to expand his knowledge in renewable energy sources. As Wizer’s Director of Operations, Slaven’s highly driven nature is the force behind creative and “out of the box” solutions at Wizer. Since his experience is so diverse, there’s virtually nothing he hasn’t seen before!

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