What If I Don’t Have a South-Facing Roof?


Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels need direct sunlight to generate clean electricity. And in the northern hemisphere, this usually means installing south-facing panels that maximize energy capture as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

But what happens if you don’t have a south-facing roof? Are you still a good solar candidate?

Although southern exposure is ideal, it isn’t always necessary. Let’s explore some of the more popular solutions homeowners and businesses use to maximize their solar PV potential.


A ground-mounted solar system is an alternative to a south-facing roof.

Option 1: Ground-Mounted Solar PV Systems

The majority of solar installations are located on rooftops. But when this isn’t practical, many customers use ground-mounted PV systems instead. These installations are located on other parts of the property such as the side or back yard.

Even if your rooftop doesn’t have southern exposure, you might have some unused land on your property that does. If this is the case, a ground-mounted solar installation could be a good solution.


What if you have a south-facing roof for solar, but it is shaded?

Option 2: Solar Performance and Shading

Some property owners do have south-facing roofs, but there are trees and other obstacles in the way.

If those “other” obstacles are adjacent buildings, you’re probably better off with a ground-mounted solar system. But if you’re dealing with trees, it’s often possible to trim back the branches to increase sunlight exposure. Believe it or not, trimming (or even removing) trees to make room for a solar installation can often yield larger environmental savings. The CO2 offsets from a high quality PV installation can be higher than those from a fully mature tree—learn more.


A west-facing roof is an alternative to a south-facing roof for solar.

Option 3: West-Facing Solar Installations

As a general rule, south-facing solar panels work best. However, there’s a growing movement to install west-facing solar panels instead.

But why?

In some utility markets, peak rates aren’t midday—they’re during the late afternoon. This is when businesses are most active and when many families return home and start running major appliances like washing machines and air conditioning units.

Although south-facing panels capture the most overall sunlight during the day, west-facing installations offer the greatest protection from peak utility rates. Depending on your time-of-use and utility market, west-facing panels can sometimes offer higher electricity bill savings.

Total Annual Solar Output Is the Most Important Factor

Ground mounted systems, tree removal, and west-facing panels are all popular solutions. But what if your property wouldn’t benefit from any of these workarounds? Are you still out of luck?

Not necessarily.

Even with limited sunshine, installing PV panels can still be a worthwhile investment. At Direct Energy Solar, we’ve successfully installed solar panels on many properties that did not have optimum solar potential—and these customers still enjoy:

  • Enviable monthly utility bill savings
  • Incredibly fast payback periods
  • ROIs that grow larger every year

Remember that as utility prices continue to rise, your solar panels shield you from future rate increases. Whether you capture some or a lot, sunshine remains free forever.

Does Going Solar Still Make Sense?

If you have a south-facing (or west-facing) roof with minimal shading, going solar definitely makes sense. However, you might still be an ideal candidate even if your property isn’t facing the “right” direction.

But we can’t say for certain until after we’ve inspected your residential or commercial property.

Fortunately, such inspections are 100% free of charge at Direct Energy Solar. Simply schedule a no-obligation appointment today, and our expert installation team will access your solar potential.

To request your free Direct Energy Solar inspection today, click here.