Choosing the correct roof material is critical for successful solar panel installation and long-term performance. In this article, we present the best roof materials designed exclusively for solar panels. These materials excel in terms of durability, compatibility, and energy efficiency, ensuring your solar power system’s optimal performance and endurance. This comprehensive guide will assist you in making an informed selection whether you are considering a new installation or upgrading your existing roof.
Are All Roofs Suitable for Solar Panels?
Yes, all roofs are suitable for solar panels as long as they are durable and have enough strength to bear the weight of a solar panel system. Solar panel systems last for 25 years or more, therefore your roof must be strong enough to handle it at least for that time period. Installation of a solar panel system is expensive and if the roof breaks or shows signs of damage it will be an additional expense to replace the roof and get the solar system reinstalled. Also, thatched roofs, asbestos roofs, conservation areas, or listed building roofs are not fit for solar panels.
What is Best Roof Material for Solar Panels?
Solar panels are devices that harness solar energy into usable electric energy. The best roof material for solar panels are-
1. Asphalt Shingles (Composite)
This is the most common roofing material as it is durable, affordable, and flexible. Depending on your location and the quality of shingles, asphalt roofs may last for about 12 to 30 years. High-quality asphalt roofs are best because they tend to outlive the system.
Studs are drilled into your roof to attach solar panel mounts in those locations. Spaces between shingles and studs will be sealed and covered with flashing, a metal plate that prevents water infiltration, and roof leaks.
2. Metal Standing Seam or Metal Roofing
This roofing material is going to last for the coming 40 to 70 years and sometimes even more plus they are non-flammable and energy efficient. Your house will stay cool if you have a colored metal roof as it reflects heat and light instead of absorbing them. However, with a list of all the pros they are expensive to install, which is one drawback due to which most people do not get these roofs.
Also, a skilled installer is required to set up solar panel systems on a metal roof. Standing seams on metal roofs are a plus point because solar panels can easily be attached to those seams without drilling any holes. This reduces labor costs.
3. Tar and Gravel Roofing
This roofing also works well with solar panel systems as they are energy efficient because gravel reflects sunlight plus, they are supportive. The average lifespan of tar and gravel roofing is around 20 to 30 years and their patching or repairing is easily done if required due to any damage.
Since tar and gravel roofs are flat, there will be a need for additional hardware to pitch solar panels at the best possible angle for them to be most efficient. Though additional hardware will increase installation costs, the angle of your solar panel system and its orientation will be at their best. This is why it is among the best roof materials for solar panels.
4. Tile Roofing
Locations close to the ocean or with hot climates mostly have tile roofing because they are durable. Also, the lifespan of tile roofing is around a century which means the roof will surely outlive the solar panel system which lasts for about 50 years max. Tile roofing is cheaper than metal roofing but more expensive than asphalt roofing plus it makes solar panel installation a bit more complicated.
It is possible to install solar panels, but the tiles need to be removed and replaced with mounting feet and flashing because of their brittleness. All these extra work results in high labor costs. Therefore, hire a skilled installer who knows how to work with tile roofing.
5. Wood Roofing
These are the most commonly noticed roof materials that can include shingles at an angle or can be completely flat. Thus, the specifics of the materials depend on the structure of the roof. However, wooden roofs are susceptible to fire and most installers do not prefer working and installing solar panels on such roofs.
Despite being a better insulator than asphalt roofs, a wooden roof is quite fragile, and, in most places, it is prohibited to install solar panels on wood roofing. However, on a large property with wood roofing, a ground-mounted system is better.
Note: We do not recommend doing anything in particular that may result in any mishap or accidents. Please confirm with your local installer regarding the rules and regulations for roof material fit to install solar panels.
6. Green Roof
This type of roofing material is also suitable for installing solar panels because together they make a bio-solar roof. It is necessary to install the roof and solar panel system simultaneously as the mounts need to be fitted underneath the growing medium for weighing it down. Another advantage of a green roof is that growing vegetation keeps the panels well-ventilated and avoids overheating. If you are looking for the best roof material for solar panels, go green.
Also Read: Top 10 Rooftop Solar Companies in India
Which is the Best Color Roof for Solar Panels?
Not everyone prefers green roofs, so for them, light-colored roofs are best. Pale blue or white, brown or gray are considered best in this term as lighter colors are good reflectors that aid in increasing the output of solar panels as well. On the contrary, darker shades are good absorbers and tend to decrease the efficiency of solar panels.
What Type of Roofing is Best for Solar Panels in Terms of Shape?
Slightly pitched or flat roof shapes are considered best for installing solar panels. Despite the fact that installers find possible ways to install solar panel systems on different types of roof shapes, they prefer flat and pitched roofs. This is because such roof shapes allow most sun exposure to the panels.
Also Read: 5 Rooftop Solar Panels Benefits
What Type Of Metal Roof is Best for Solar Panels?
In terms of metal roofing, standing seam metal is the best as they are made with two conjoined metals at the seams. Together fastened clamps and clips are used by standing seam metals creating a strong and durable roof ideal for holding solar panel systems effectively for many years to come. Standing seam metal roofing has protruding seams allowing easy attachment of solar panels plus the need to drill holes is excluded.
Other superior properties are:
- They are eco-friendly.
- A large amount of sunlight that is not absorbed by solar panels is reflected, resulting in cooling the roof.
- Their average lifespan is 30 years.
- Thin film, as well as photovoltaic solar panels, are both compatible.
Can You Add Solar Panel Later on a Metal Roof?
With increasing energy requirements, sometimes more panels need to be installed. Though it is not impossible, installation depends largely on the condition and age of the roof. Even though metal roofs are durable, older metal roofs may not accurately support the weight of additional solar panels. Despite being the best roof material for solar panels, an old, rusted, and weak metal roof is not recommended.
Can You Install Solar Panels on a Zinc Roof?
Yes, it is possible to do so. Zinc roofs are corrosion-resistant and self-healing along with being low maintenance. However, this is applicable only on pure zinc material roofs because its alternates have additives and die-casting that result in corrosion. Therefore, instead of zinc, go for steel.
Note: Before making a selection, make sure to have a discussion about this with the installer. Different locations and houses have distinct qualities, and here we refer to commonly used things and not particularly to certain places or houses.
Also See: 3 Leading Types Of Solar PV System
Which is the Best Roof Direction for Solar Panels to Get Best Orientation and Angle?
Typically, a 30° angle is considered best for solar panels. But this slightly varies depending on your location as everyone wants to angle the solar panels as accurately as possible. Therefore, depending on the latitude of your house, the ideal angle for your solar panels should be somewhere between 30° and 45°.
The best roof orientation or direction of solar panels for people living in the Northern Hemisphere is south facing. The same is for people living in the Southern Hemisphere: it is best to install solar panels such that they face towards the north. Most direct sunlight exposure will be received on a solar panel system installed on a south-facing roof.
However, an east or west-facing roof also generates enough electricity for your household appliances.
Also See: Why Do Solar Panels Degrade?
Which Factors to Consider for Solar Panel Materials?
While selecting the best roof material for solar panels you need to consider the following things.
1. Orientation and Pitch
Production and efficiency of roof-mounted solar panel systems depend on orientation. It refers to the direction towards which solar panels will face, which is generally south. However, in some places, solar panels produce good amounts of energy without being south facing.
The pitch or slope of the roof is another factor affecting the solar arrangement and their production capabilities at large. Mostly 30° to 40° angles are optimum for ideal power generation. Installation on steeper roofs is difficult and flat roofs will require more racks to lift the panels up to right angles.
2. Roof Age
The efficiency of solar panel systems depends on the age of the roof too. Asphalt shingle roofs have a lifespan of about 20 years, but other materials like metal or slate last more than 40 years. Therefore, installing a solar panel on the roof that needs replacement shortly is not a good idea. Replace the roof first, if necessary, then install solar panels.
3. Roof Material
Various roof materials work well with solar arrays; out of them, some are more solar-friendly than others. Composite shingles are considered the best and easiest roof material for solar panel installation. Materials like wood shake shingles, clay, terracotta, and slate are unsuitable for solar panel installation as they are extremely brittle and thus break easily.
4. Shade Hours
Solar panels are designed to work well even on a cloudy day. Therefore, an ideal roof for solar panels is one with ample sunlight but shaded only for a short portion of the day. In case the roof does not receive optimum sunlight, then your solar installer will provide the required solution.
5. Square Footage
The size of your roof also matters that you need to consider while purchasing solar panels. As per Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), most residential solar panel systems are 5 kilowatts, which means 20 to 250 watts panels. As per the general rule, each kilowatt system requires about 100 square feet of roof space. Broken rooflines, skylights, and other elements limit the total roof area available for panel systems.
So, today you learned about the best roof material for solar panels. I hope everyone gets their hands on this information for the best possible outcome. Why not share this with your friends and family members? What type of roofing is best for solar panels? The answer to this is a durable one but color, orientation, shading, and other factors are also a part of it.
Recommended: 3kW Solar Panel How Many Units Per Day Output?