When it comes to residential installations, it’s pretty common to see solar panels on roofs.
This option helps you, as a homeowner, preserve precious square footage on the ground for patios, playgrounds, pools, and gardens.
Before you choose the roof for your solar panel placement, however, there are a few things you should know.
Let’s have a look!
Solar Panels on Roof Slopes
Most homes have a roof that slopes in one or more directions.
When identifying the part of your roof for the installation, choosing whichever one offers the most continuous surface area may seem tempting.
However, the direction the slopes face can make a significant difference in the productivity of your panels.
Most solar experts recommend installing panels to face directly south.
This direction maximizes output throughout the day.
However, one New York Times article proposes the west as an alternative because it maximizes solar exposure during peak usage times.
It’s possible to do both or to set up a ground test before permanently mounting the panels.
Solar Panels on Roof Type Variations
What model of roof do you have?
The installation method varies slightly for each type when it comes to mounting:
- Standing Seam Metal: Homeowners often worry about installing solar panels on metal roofs, but this is one of the best options because it requires no drilled holes. Instead, installers use clamps.
- Corrugated Metal: To install this, you use the same galvanized screws used in the original roof installation and fit them into brackets designed to follow the curves of this roofing type. You then secure the racks to the brackets and the panels to the racks.
- Asphalt Shingle: Bolt and flashing installations attach solar panels to racking systems while reducing the risk of leaks. The bolts then attach to the roof rafters.
- Flat Roofs: If you have a flat roof, you may need to consider a tilted ballast mount system. This relies on the weight of cinder blocks to keep everything in place.
Timing and Solar Installation
When was the last time you or the prior owners replaced the roof?
Depending on the type of roof, it will last for roughly 20 to 50 years.
Meanwhile, solar panels last for about 40 years before production drops so low that you need to replace them.
This makes it ideal to time the two installations together.
Another good reason to combine the two is that a roofing company may install solar panels for less than if you tried to get them done separately.
Not all roofing companies are willing to install solar panels on roof structures, so be sure to shop around and ask the right questions.
Home Insurance and Roof Warranties
When you mount your solar panels on roof structures, options that require drilling holes could invalidate your roofing warranty.
This is yet another excellent reason to have the professionals replacing your roof install your solar panels.
Your insurance company may also have a stance on whether it will cover damage caused by a roof you drilled holes into to mount solar panels.
There is sometimes a workaround for this, so talk to your insurer before making any decisions.
Solar Panels and Shade
One of the top reasons some roofs get ruled out is the presence of shade.
It’s important to consider more than just whether trees hang over the roof.
Even trees further away can cast shadows on your solar panel and significantly reduce productivity.
Sure, you could trim the trees or cut one or two down.
However, if green initiatives are important to you, this is counterproductive to your overall goal.
The environment relies on trees to clean the air and encourage rain production.
It’s often better to move the solar panels than remove the trees.
Solar Panels and Type
There are two main solar panel types: monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels.
You can quickly identify monocrystalline panels from their black color.
These panels feature individual silicon crystals.
They cost more than polycrystalline panels because they are more effective, perform better in hot weather, and last longer.
Choose these when space is an issue, and there is little room for further growth.
Polycrystalline panels feature several pieces of silicon crystals that have been melted and rejoined.
These panels appear blue.
While they are less effective, they still do a decent job producing energy.
Use these when your budget is a more significant issue than long-term productivity, and you have room to grow your solar array.
Combination of Mounting Options
What if your solar needs are greater than your roof can support, but you don’t want to give up all that space in the yard?
You can still mount solar panels on rooftops and then use ground mounts to place the ones that remain.
Some homeowners also use solar panels as complements of other structures.
For example, solar panels can be used on water catchment systems or create carports for vehicles.
If you have given up as much space as you can on your property, consider community panels.
Solar Panel Installation and Liability
Roofing is the fourth most dangerous profession in America.
Contractors often fall from great heights and suffer serious injuries.
In case of the unlikely event that this happens on your property, ensure the contractors you hire are bonded, licensed, and insured.
This passes the bill to the company, so there isn’t a claim on your insurance.
If you decide to do the work yourself, consider your skill level, comfort, and experience with heights, available safety gear, and the height of your roof.
Also, ensure your insurance policies are up to date.
If your home is taller than one or two stories, consider hiring professionals for the job.
Components and Consultation
At Unbound Solar®, we help thousands of homeowners just like you complete DIY solar installations.
We provide step-by-step instructions, including safety measures you should take to protect yourself.
But you can also hire your own installer.