Before installing solar panels there are many factors to take into account. Whilst north is usually the aspect that solar panels are installed this is not always the best solution and not always possible.
A good solar installer should take all these factors into consideration before recommending which side or sides of your roof your solar panels should be installed.
The decision on whether to install solar on one or the other side of your home is often based on obstacles to the efficiency of the amount of solar power that you will obtain.
In an ideal world your home would have:-
• A large roof
• A roof with the ideal pitch
• No trees anywhere near your home
• No buildings anywhere near your home.
So if your home with a large roof was located in the desert had the ideal pitch and large roof it would be very easy to determine which orientation to install your panels on – north.
However if there are obstacles (current or future) these need to be taken into account. For the purposes of this blog we are only going to look at two obstacles both related to shading of solar panels – trees and buildings.
Factors to Take into Account Before Installing Solar Panels
Shading of Solar Panels
Shade From Existing Trees
If your trees (neighbours trees, council trees) are shading the south side of your home then this is not considered a problem. However if shading the north, east or west then it does become an issue
Thus if your Brisbane home and roof is shaded by trees you will have to make a decision as to how important and valuable your trees are. For example they may provide shade in the summer and keep the home cooler. Also many people really like to have trees for the pleasure of them, a good outlook, attract birds and shield ugly views… And many just enjoy a green leafy home.
Removing trees for solar energy does not really seem like a ‘green’ option, but it is done.
Let’s assume that there are no other obstacles which could reduce the effectiveness of your solar panels beyond tree shading on your north aspect. The most common solution then (if you want to keep your trees) is to use either the east side of your roof or the west – or both. East and west orientations also do have in some cases benefits over a northern orientation and this will be discussed in a future blog.
Now lets assume that the northern section of your roof is close to the border of a neighbour who has existing trees that would shade your solar panels. Well, depending upon your relationship with your neighbours they may be willing to allow you or for themselves to remove or prune back their trees. However don’t forget that these lovely neighbours could move and the new neighbours may not be as obliging.
Generally to avoid this problem if you have a roof with clear western and/or eastern orientations this may be a better choice for the long term effectiveness of your solar and for good neighbourly relationships!
Shade From Future Trees
Yes trees grow and new trees get planted – and don’t forget about how quickly bamboo grows!
When considering calling a solar installer don’t just look at the existing shading from trees. This is a mistake that is often made and can impact on the effectiveness of your solar panels in the future.
Let’s consider for example (similar to the above) that the section of your roof that has a northern aspect is close to your neighbours border. Your neighbours could have already have trees growing on the border that could with growth shade your northern roof in time. Different trees grow at different rates so it could be a long time in coming, or it could be that within just a few years that your northern roof is shaded by neighbouring trees and this needs to be taken into account before installing solar panels.
Asking your neighbour to remove or significantly prune the trees that start to affect your solar panels can if you are lucky be an easy solution to this problem. However if your neighbour does not want to remove or prune their trees then things can get a bit tricky as the Brisbane City council regulations regarding tree pruning are not as clear cut as most people think and there are restrictions depending upon the size of the tree.
The decision is obviously yours, but again if you have a clear eastern and western roof the safest decision is probably to install the solar panels on those sides.
The shading of growing trees is also true for council planted trees and with these trees being council owned you will not be able to remove or cut back. Some of the trees that have been planted by Brisbane City Council grow into substantial and sometimes very dense trees. You really need to take into account the potential size and also speed of growth of Council trees before installing solar panels.
Shade From Buildings
The same case for trees applies for buildings. Before installing solar panels you should take into account the possibility of shading from buildings (and I assume here homes) in the future, not just what is there now.
Thus if your northern roof is again close to the border of your neighbour and your neighbour’s home is beyond a ‘renovators delight’ this really needs to be taken into account. As you are aware many Brisbane residential blocks are now subdivided, some even below the 405sq.m. size and the double storey homes that are built, are done so as close to the border as they can. Should you have a single storey home or a lower double storey building then shading of your solar panels is likely.
Even without a subdivision occurring many new homes these days are being built very close to the border of the property and could impact upon your solar panels, particularly if you have a single storey home or are if your land slopes downwards, lower than your neighbours.
It does not even have to be a new home, is there the possibility that your neighbour could extend they home by adding a second storey, and if so would that shade your solar panels.
Whilst the above obstacles only apply in some instances, if they do, they need to be examined before installing solar panels as they can have a very major impact upon the effectiveness of your solar panels. Thinking for the future before calling a solar installer is highly recommended – as is finding a solar installer who takes all these sorts of factors into account before making any recommendations.
Globe Electrical Solutions
We are solar accredited installers and qualified electricians – who better to obtain advice from before installing solar panels, and who is most likely to recommend the best solar system for maximum electricity savings for your home?