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Which side of a house will get the most sunlight? Articles on the internet seem to have conflicting answers. Is this because it is dependent on location?

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4 Answers

up vote 23 down vote accepted

In general, it depends on your location. In the northern hemisphere, the south side gets the bulk of the sun, because the sun is in that half of the sky.

But if you are on a hill, or have a hill to the east or west, it can significantly shorten your solar 'day'.

Additionally, if you are in an area that tends to get morning fog, east-facing will get less effective sun than west-facing, because by afternoon the sun will have burned off the fog.

Finally, elevation matters. Higher floors will get more sun because they "see" more of the sky.

So in general, the south-west of the house will get the most sun, with upper floors receiving more than lower floors.

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+1 Southwest was going to be my recommendation for residents of the Northern Hemisphere. –  Doresoom Jun 8 '11 at 18:41
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This question depends on context.

  • I could say the north side but for all I know the north side of your house has no windows.
  • It also depends on geographic location. Where does the sun rise/set.
  • Do you have any trees/objects near your house that would obstruct light?

There are varying factors here to say the least.

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Are you by any chance in the Southern Hemisphere or in the tropics? If not, the north side probably won't get the most sun. Also, sunrise and sunset locations vary from day to day. –  Jon Ericson Jun 8 '11 at 23:36
    
My answer is location agnostic, the point is the OP never specified which makes the question hard to answer. Then as I said if that side has no windows it won't matter, more or less more information needs to be provided or the answer depends on context. There is not blanket answer for this question. –  Chris Jun 9 '11 at 10:25
    
This is a good answer. The other variable is probably whether you're planting indoors or outdoors. In the case of outdoors, the north side (south side in Australia) past the shadow of the house could be fine as long as you're planting away from the edge of a high fence to avoid the shadow from that too. –  Lisa Jul 14 '11 at 0:18
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I believe that in the northern hemisphere, it's always the south-facing side, and north-facing in the southern hemisphere.

Wikipedia's article on Seasons has a few nice images showing this.

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A good (and kind of fun) way to answer this is with Google Earth. If you look up your address, then click the Sun icon, it will allow you to see the sun light based on season and time of day.

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This doesn't seem to indicate the direction of the sun. –  Alex B Jun 11 '11 at 22:06
    
@Alex B: If you tilt the viewing angle up so that you're looking at the horizon, you will see the sun (and its trajectory if you move the time of day slider). To tilt up, hold down the shift button and press the down arrow on your keyboard. It is a great indicator of the sun's direction and it's based on actual physics. If you don't want to tilt up, you could also infer the sun's direction by dragging the time of day slider. The areas that are brighter are facing the sun. –  Keith Jun 12 '11 at 20:03
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