Switching from traditional energy to solar power? Have you collected the necessary information about the system? What about the rooftop? Solar panels work to their best possible extent in favorable conditions and the type of rooftop is one of the factors. I have come across various such questions regarding the rooftop, like is my roof suitable for solar panels? And can you put solar panels on a flat roof? Well, along with the answer to these questions, you will learn about the type of best and worst roofs for installing solar panels.
Is My Roof Suitable for Solar Panels?
Solar panels are capable of producing energy even on cloudy days and winters because they work on photovoltaic technology, and it does not particularly need direct sunlight to generate power. However, sunlight is important because, with good sunlight intensity and optimum peak sunlight hours, your solar panel system will generate more power.
But what if your rooftop is not suitable for solar panels even if you have adequate sunlight hours? Yes, solar panels are easy to install but not every rooftop supports a solar system. Sometimes racks and mounts are required to fix the panels to the place. Sounds complex, but if you know about the basics you are good to go. So, now before you install your solar panels, it is important to look for the answers to the following questions to evaluate the roof.
What Type of Roof Do You Have?
Here type refers to the material of your roof like asphalt, wood, steel, slate, iron, and concrete. Mostly all roofing material handles the installation process just fine and there is at least no harm to the roof itself. But brittle and mostly wooden roofs are not considered suitable for installing solar panels. Besides being brittle and having more installation costs involved, wooden roofs are susceptible to fire also which can damage both the house and the system.
How Much is Your Roof Shaded?
Solar panel efficiency is affected by the amount of shading on your roof. Shadows on roofs are usually from chimneys, other tall buildings, trees, and other structures which affect the power generation of solar panels. Yes, solar panels will generate power, but you will not be able to enjoy their full potential.
Is Your Roof Sloped or Flat?
Different regions in the world have a distinct architecture which is mostly visible in the type of roof the houses have. Flat, sloped, and inclined are the basic types of roofs found across the world. Out of these flat surfaced roofs are considered fine but inclined or sloped roofs are better. A roof with a 30° and 40° slope is ideal for solar panels. But steeper than 40° will result in the reduced potential of solar panels. This answer also determines is my roof suitable for solar panels.
What is the Age of Your Roof?
This is the most important factor to consider here. The solar panel system needs to be fixed to the roof and these racks and mounts will be drilled into the roof. Depending on the type of roof, if your roof is suitable for solar panels, then also the age of the roof matters. If it is new and in good condition so that it can withstand a load of solar panel systems for 25 and more years to come, then it is good. Otherwise, an old, thatched roof that needs repair and renovation should be first fixed before installing the solar system.
What is the Shape and Size of the Roof?
As per the rough thumb rule, you need a minimum of 100 square feet of roof area for every kilowatt of the solar system. Usually, you have chimneys, parapet walls, water tanks, or other obstructions or things on the roof. All this impacts the size and shape of the roof. A congested space may have difficulty in installing solar panels, and you may require extra mounts and racks.
Which Way Does Your Roof Face?
If you have a south-facing roof, then it is advantageous for you because your solar panel system will perform its best on this type of roof. However, not every roof can face southward, so you need to incline your solar panels south so that they get the maximum possible sunlight throughout the day. Depending on shadow analysis, east or west exposures are also fine as long as the panels receive optimum sunlight. Now, you must also be curious to know can solar panels go on any roof.
Can Solar Panels Go on Any Roof?
Technically yes, solar panels can be installed on any roof. The only difference will be in the installation method and type of mounting hardware which will be different for different roof types. Some of the most commonly used roof materials are as follows:
1. Asphalt shingles: Studs will be drilled in the roof to attach the panels. Flashing is used to seal and surround the spaces around brackets. Is my roof suitable for solar panels? If it is of asphalt shingles, then it is a big yes.
2. Clay tiles: During the installation process, clay tiles are removed as they are fragile and may break. Feet of solar racks are bolted to the roof. Metal hooks and flashings are drilled into the roof after which tiles are placed back. In some cases, the original tile is replaced with a new metal version in which the tile, mounting foot, along with flashing are combined as one piece of equipment.
3. Concrete: Installers drill the holes into the roof to attach the mounts if required, and flashings. The ballast or standard foundation method is used for installing solar panel systems on a concrete roof.
4. Metal: These roof types already have parapets that make solar panel installation easy, and drilling is not necessary.
5. Rubber: The same method as the concrete rooftop is to be followed.
6. Slate tiles: Usually installers drill through the tiles but in some cases, tiles need to be removed and replaced with a mounting foot.
7. Wood: This roofing material also requires drilling into the roof and adding flashings under the wood pieces to prevent leaking. With wooden roofs, extra precautions need to be taken.
So, it is possible to install all the solar panels in all the above-mentioned roof types. Now, let’s see can you put solar panels on a flat roof.
Can You Put Solar Panels on a Flat Roof?
No, you cannot just put solar panels on a flat roof. But yes, you can install solar panels on flat roofs with tilt frames because it is recommended to tilt your solar panels at a 10° angle on a flat roof. It is important to avoid stagnation of rainwater in your solar panels and with a tilt, water will run off from the surface. Framed solar panels are highly recommended for all roof types and especially flat roofs because the panels need to be mounted or fixed on racks.
Installing a solar panel on a flat roof will result in low energy production and a high degree of energy loss. To get better output and maximum exposure to sunlight you need to install the solar panels at the best angle as per the latitude theory. If you have a flat roof and are concerned is my roof suitable for solar panels, the following are some ways to install solar panels on a flat roof.
1. Attached: This method requires a chemical bond to secure the panels to the roof. Resin or something similar is preferred for it because flat roofs may not have parapets. Fixing the panels to the roof is necessary to prevent them from being damaged by wind.
2. Ballasted: This method does not use drilling or resin. Ballasts are placed above the top and sealed with cement to protect panels from the wind.
3. Foundation: This method is suitable if your roof has high parapet walls and space. Frames will be drilled into the roof that will firmly hold the solar panels.
Note: An expert is required to implement either of these methods mentioned above. We do not recommend performing such methods yourself.
Also See: 5 Rooftop Solar Panels Benefits
What Type of Roof is Best for Solar Panels?
Different types of architecture use different materials for roofs. The best roof for your solar panels is a standing metal roof. Yes, the most commonly used roofing material is composite roofing or asphalt shingles. These roofs are great for solar panels and the installation process is also simpler than other roofs. Tile roofs are considered the second-best type of roof for solar panels. But standing seams of a metal roof allow for the easy and cost-effective installation of solar panels.
So, the answer to is my roof suitable for solar panels is yes, if you have the above-mentioned types of roofs. No need to drill holes because seams are already fixed to the roof and can withhold the panels firmly. Plus, they are much more durable than other roof types. Now you know what type of roof is best for solar panels. Now let’s explore what type of roof is not good for solar panels.
What Type of Roof is Not Good for Solar Panels?
Though every roof type can get a solar panel system, it is not necessary that the system goes well with every roof. Yes, because for some roofs the installation process may be complex and expensive. And for some roofs, it may require additional equipment. Certain specialty roofs that are considered unsuitable for solar panels are:
- Glazed tile
- Metal tile
- Stone coat metal and other specialty roofs
Another factor why a roof is not suitable for solar panels is that the underlying structure is not sustainable. Certain structures referred to here are:
- Aluminum enclosures
- Open structures
- Pole barns
So, the answer to what type of roof is not good for solar panels can vary on the basis of the roof material and its underlying structures.
What is the Minimum Angle for Solar Panels?
The angle or pitch of the roof is determined by the vertical rise divided by the horizontal run. Mostly 30° is considered ideal for solar panels, but this depends on the inclination of the roof and location also. But in some places, the minimum angle is 15° depending on the determining factors. Generally, take the latitude of your place and add 15° in winter and decrease the same in summer. This is because the sun in summer is 15° higher in summer and the degrees lower in winter.
Not every region receives the same sunlight hours and intensity, and these factors need to be considered while deciding the angle of solar panels. Other factors to consider are seasons and location (near the equator or towards the poles).
Still, wondering what is the minimum angle for solar panels? The angle of solar panels depends on the angle of the sun in the sky. So, you need to adjust the angles of solar panels each season for maximum sunlight exposure. But a simple way to decide it is the latitude of your location. Yes, you need movable frames that can be adjusted and tilted as per requirement.
Also Read: What is Elevation Angle?
Is my roof suitable for solar panels? Well, the answer to this question depends on the answer to a number of related questions. Age, material, shape, shading, and other related factors to your roof. Do not forget about the inclination, angle, and orientation of your roof. Can solar panels go on any roof? As of now, yes, it is possible to install solar panels on any roof with the proper installation method. But each roof type has different installation processes and requirements which can sometimes be more expensive than the others. So, before you get a solar panel system for your rooftop, get a complete roof survey done by the technician. This way you will get the best possible advice on installation methods. Also, the type of solar panel system and components that should suit your house.
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