over the past decade, more homeowners have started using solar panels to power their homes. Many are turning towards the clean energy of solar panels to help the environment and reduce their electricity bill.
If you’re looking to install solar panels, you may be looking to place them on your roof, especially if you lack the space for a ground-mounted system. However, one of the biggest questions homeowners ask before moving forward with installation is if their roof is the right fit. Luckily, most roofs are solar-friendly though some materials are more suitable for solar panels.
One of the first questions people ask as they consider installing solar panels is, “Is my house good for solar?” Fortunately, most roofs can sustain a residential solar power system.
Below are a few of the top factors that work together to make your roof compatible with solar power:
Material of Roofing
What’s the best roof material for solar panels? Although rooftop solar arrays work with many materials, some are more “solar-friendly” than others. While most roofing products are generally suitable for solar, composite shingles are the best and easiest for solar installation. Flashing and mounting panels on this material is usually quite simple.
Now, If you’re looking to install wood shake shingles or clay, slate, and terra cotta tile roofs, you may find it difficult to find a solar professional willing to take on such a job. These materials are extremely brittle and break very easily which is why most installers shy away from these roof types. What we generally recommend as a solution is to remove the tiles or shingles directly under the array and replace them with composite since they’ll be hiding under the installed panels.
While solar panels have become more advanced in recent years, the age of your roof still has a great deal to do with how efficiently your system performs. Today, asphalt shingle roofs last about 20 years, while materials like slate or metal can last forty years or longer.
With this in mind, don’t install a new solar system on a roof that will need to be replaced shortly. Instead, replace the roof first and install the solar panels once the job is done.
Pitch of Roofing
The pitch, or angle, of your roof, is also something to consider. Roof pitch is determined by the vertical rise divided by the horizontal run. Most people consider the ideal angle for a solar panel to be 30 degrees. This translates to a roof pitch of about 7/12, meaning for every 12 inches of space horizontally, the height of the roof increases by seven inches.
If your roof is flat, then you can still install solar panels. It just means you’ll have to use brackets to angle the panels. The way solar panels are installed on a flat roof also depends partly on the material atop the roof, i.e. tar and gravel, PVC, etc.
Shape and Size of Roof
The shape and size of your roof can also affect its compatibility with solar panels. The average residential solar system in the U.S. is 5 kilowatts, which requires at least 200 feet of surface area on your roof. The best shape and size for solar panels is a large, square roof because it makes for a simple installation.
Orientation of Roof
In the northern hemisphere, solar panels work most effectively when they face true south. Note that this is not the same as the magnetic south direction indicated on a compass. A great way to find out which direction your house faces is to look for your address on a platform like Google Maps. This will tell you which direction is true south and how the orientation of your house compares.
Best Roof Material for Solar Panels
Whether you have an asphalt roof or a metal one, solar panels can be installed on nearly every type of roof. However, some roofing materials are more suitable for solar panels as they provide a more stable foundation. These include:
Asphalt is the most common type of shingle used on housing and is also the best roof for solar panels. These shingles are made from a fiberglass or cellulose type of mat that is very flexible and durable, making it the perfect material for solar panels. Installing these panels is very straightforward and is done by drilling studs into the roof and attaching the mounts to these studs. The space between the panel and the studs is then sealed with flashings to prevent water from entering your home.
Standing seam metal is among the best roofing materials to install solar panels. The metal has large, protruding seams that make the panel array attachment easy and thus cheaper installation. Besides, you do not need to drill holes into the roof.
Metal roofing also has other superior properties over other materials.
A longer lifespan. They can last for more than 30 years
They are ecofriendly
They have a cooling effect since they reflect a large amount of sunlight that solar panels do not absorb.
While the cost of installing solar panels on a tiled roof is more expensive, clay, slate, or concrete tiles are still one of the best roofs for solar panels. These shingles are slightly more waterproof and usually last longer than other shingles. Installation usually requires the removal of the tiles to prevent breakage. Additionally, the feet of the solar panel needs to be fastened directly to your roof to ensure proper fastening.
Tar and Gravel
Despite most gravel and tar roofs being flat, they’re still good candidates for solar panels. However, you’ll want to make sure the panels are at a 30-degree angle to ensure optimum electricity production, which may require some extra hardware. The extra layers of asphalt in these types of roofs provide good support for the panels and prevent leaks or cracks.
Wooden roof types are not ideal for solar panel installation due to fire safety concerns. Besides, whether they are completely flat or shingles at an angle, these roof types are easily damaged.
Solar panels for any roof type
At the end of the day, if you want to install a solar panel array on your roof, there will always be a way. If the natural structure and materials of the roof are not suitable for an efficient system, there are many ways in which you can adopt a roof to meet the requirements. The amount of customization, however, will directly correlate to the cost of the system. Keep in mind, however, that if a new roof does become necessary to install solar, you can claim 30% of that cost in your Federal Solar Tax Credit.
Solar panels are a great way to generate renewable energy and save money on your electricity bill. There are many factors to consider when choosing solar panels, including the amount of sunlight you receive, and the type of solar panel you want.
We are excited to announce that we are offering solar panel installation and roofing services throughout the entire state of California! With our experienced team of installers, you can rest assured that your solar panel system will be installed quickly and efficiently. Give us a call today for more information, or just fill out the form on the home page and our experts will contact you to give more information about our solar panel installation services and how we can help you save money on your energy bills.
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