Considering solar? This is why your roof direction matters

Not all roofs are created equal when it comes to solar panel installations.

Not all roofs are created equal when it comes to solar panel installations.

Published May 5, 2023


As ongoing loadshedding and unexpected power outages continue to impact households, many homeowners are looking to rooftop solar installations to secure their power supply and protect against escalating electricity prices.

However, not all roofs are created equal when it comes to solar panel installations.

Understand your roof’s solar potential with LookSee’s free Solar Score

LookSee's executive head, Marc du Plessis, explains: “Very few homeowners realise that the direction the various sides of their roof face can have a significant impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of your solar system.”

It’s for this reason that Standard Bank’s home management platform, developed South Africa’s first, free, online Solar Score for residential properties to help homeowners easily understand the generation potential of their roofs.

Ideal conditions

In South Africa, the ideal roof direction for solar panels is generally north-facing. This is because the sun moves across the sky from east to west, with the highest point being directly north at noon. When solar panels face north, they capture sunlight throughout the day, which maximises their power output.

If your roof faces east or west, you can still install solar panels and generate electricity, but you’ll probably not produce as much as you would with a north-facing roof. East-facing roofs will receive more sunlight in the morning, while west-facing roofs will receive more sunlight in the afternoon and evening.

Homeowners with flat roofs have more flexibility in choosing the direction for their solar panels. A flat roof allows you to install solar panels at any angle and facing any direction. In this case, it is best to take into account any nearby obstructions that may cast shadows on your panels. You’ll also need to be prepared to pay a little more for the frames and supporting structures.

Roof sides facing a southerly direction are not optimal for solar panels as they receive limited direct sunlight.

Free roof assessment

If you’re not keen on finding a compass to figure out the direction the sides of your roof face, then the LookSee Solar Score is for you.

This easy-to-use system only requires you to enter your physical address and click on the Get my Solar Score button. The system then generates a 3-dimensional grid of the house and analyses it against a variety of factors that influence the generation potential of solar panels. These include the direction the various roof panes face; the slope and available roof area on optimal panes; radiant power from sunlight; and shady conditions from surrounding buildings or vegetation.

“The LookSee Solar Score is the first of its kind to provide this level of insight into South Africa’s residential properties, helping homeowners to take the guesswork out of their solar decisions. Not only do we provide a score on the home, we reveal valuable information such as usable roof area, usable days of sunlight, energy generation potential and how much a homeowner could save on their electricity bill,” says du Plessis.

Homeowners can experience the Solar Score by going to

Please note that the Solar Score is currently available for most of South Africa’s large metro’s with sectional title properties currently excluded. Sectional titles and more cities and towns will be added during 2023.