Is My Roof Suitable for Solar Panel Installation?

Checking the feasibility of setting up solar panels on the rooftop is one the most important aspects of designing a solar system. It is important because inefficient installation of solar panels could drastically increase your installation and maintenance expenses.

There are 4 different aspects to consider while evaluating the feasibility of putting up solar panels on a rooftop. They are:

  1. Type of roof
  2. Age of the roof
  3. Roof orientation
  4. Choosing the right installer

A comprehensive analysis of the above factors is discussed below:

Type of Roof

Solar panels can be installed on almost all kinds of rooftops. The complexities involved in installing a solar panel may differ with different rooftops. The most popular rooftop styles which are considered favorable for solar installations are asphalt shingled rooftop and metal rooftop.

Asphalt shingled rooftops are the most common and solar installers are familiar with their installation. Although they have a low cost of installation, they are not the best installations for the long term.

Metal roofs provide the following advantages for rooftop solar:

  • Lightness
  • Durability (lasts 30-50 years)
  • Energy efficient (by keeping roof temperatures low)

In metal roofs and some concrete tiled roofs, the solar panels can be clamped into the roof instead of making holes for fasteners.

Ceramic tiled and wooden shake rooftops are difficult for solar installers to work with. Due to their brittle nature, tiles may break off during installation and fixing them adds to the total installation costs.

Flat roofs are easy to install but they will require additional mounts and racks to angle the panels.

In some countries where asbestos roofs are common, solar installers are hesitant to work with it due to the health hazards posed by drilling or cracking it. It is recommended not use asbestos roof for solar installations.

Age of the Roof

A solar module is installed to last 20-25 years. Therefore, preferably, you should ensure that your roof lasts at least as long as the solar panel.

It should be noted that although asphalt shingles are the most common rooftop for solar installations, they turn out to be a bad option over the long-term as they don’t last as much as the warranted life of the solar panels. If your roofing is more than 10 years old, it is better to replace it before installing the panels especially in the case of asphalt shingled roofs.

If you tiles are cracked or there is a leak, the installation process becomes complex and costly. So it is suggested to spend some money to replace the roof before installation is begun instead of spending a lot more money for re-roofing and labor in the future.

Roof Orientation

Ensuring the direction in which your roof faces is more important than the type of roof covering material used. If the solar panels are not properly oriented towards the sunlight, there can be a significant reduction in the power production.

Depending on the location, the favorable rooftop direction is different. For example, in California, a south-facing roof produce the highest amount of electricity while in Australia, a north-facing roof is preferred.

In the case of flat roofs you may need a mounting structure or a tilted frame to position the solar panels for maximum efficiency.

Choosing the Right Installer

It is important to understand that, whatever the rooftop type maybe, allocating time to choose the right solar installer is the most crucial task.

Do not get discouraged by situations wherein a solar installer suggests that it’s not possible to mount a solar panel on your roof. This may just be due to the fact that the solar installer doesn’t have sufficient expertise with such installations.  Talk to more than one installer before coming to a decision.

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