When it comes to deciding where to put your solar array, experts agree a south-facing orientation is best for solar. But a north-facing solar roof array can produce plenty of power, proving there can be exceptions to the rule.
One Chatham homeowner didn't want his new solar panels on the south side of the house because it faced the street. So, My Generation Energy looked for another option. It turned out that a dormer roof on the back of the house was pitched at just the right angle to host the solar energy system, even though it faced north.
Aim high: Calculating effectiveness of solar
My Generation Energy professionals aim for the highest effectiveness rating possible in every solar energy system we design. Effectiveness is a measure of a solar PV system's ability to produce electricity. It's based on three factors. The first is roof orientation: north, south, east, or west. The second is roof pitch, the slope of the roof. The third factor is shading. Each unique combination of these factors determines solar panels' ability to capture the sun's rays.
To get a 100 percent effectiveness rating, you need a roof pitch of 41 degrees facing due south with no shading.
The Chatham north-facing solar array works because there is no shading and the north-facing dormer roof is low pitched, almost flat.
North-Facing Solar: Beating expectations
Since My Generation Energy installed the 15-panel array in April 2018, the production of this Chatham north-facing roof array has beat expectations.
The MGE solar proposal predicted a conservative effectiveness rating of 65 percent. Actual performance is over 80 percent! The solar energy system is on track to produce an average of 5.4MWh per year. That's also higher than MGE's conservative projection of 4.8MWh.
The solar savings add up
As of mid-February, the 5.025kW north-facing solar energy system had produced $2,482 in electricity savings and $2,047.85 in Solar Renewable Energy Certificates. Breaking it down, these two incentive programs are returning an average of $205 each month directly to the homeowner.
In addition, the homeowner is eligible for a federal solar tax credit worth $5,467.20 and a state solar tax credit of $1,000.
Altogether, this system is on track to paying for itself in less than six years. Not bad for a north-facing solar panel system!