Best Roof for Solar Panels
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In recent years, home solar panel kits have become an increasingly popular means of powering your house. In the event that you have finally decided to bite the bullet and convert to solar power, the questions you might find yourself asking are:
- Where should I mount my solar panels - on the ground or on my roof?; and
- Is my roof the best roof for solar panels?
With regards to this first question, we here at Shop Solar Kits recommend installing your solar panel on a roof rather than on the ground. It’s by far the most practical option in terms of power output and spatial efficiency.
The second question, on the other hand, requires more explanation. But fear not, in this article we’ll guide you through the features you need to consider when determining if your roof is suitable for solar panels and how it can be improved to meet these standards.
The Best Roof for Solar Panels
If you want to ensure that you have the best roof for solar panels, there are several factors that you need to consider. Let’s take a look at these factors.
Age & Condition
The condition your roof is in doesn't always directly correlate with its age. For example, your roof could be only three years old, but if it’s not been properly maintained, it could have aged prematurely.
Therefore both of these factors are equally important.
As far as the age of your solar panels goes, you need to ensure that your current roof has a lifespan that accommodates your solar panels for as long as possible. The moment you need to resurface your roof, you’ll need to remove and reinstall your panels which can be expensive.
With regards to the condition of your roof, the same reasoning applies.
You should ensure that your roof is in as good a condition as possible before you mount your solar panels on it. If you think that your roof needs to be redone, do it. It will save you a lot more money in the long run.
The majority of roofing materials are capable of housing the installation of solar panels without any risk of damage to the roof itself.
So, it’s clear that solar panels can be installed on pretty much any type of roof - be it a slate, shingle or even metal roof.
That being said, there are still certain roofing materials that are better suited to accommodate solar panels than others. These better roofing materials provide the best and most stable foundation on which to install your solar panels.
Let’s take a look at some of these ideal roofing materials.
Asphalt is the best roofing material for the installation of rooftop solar panels and, as such, is also one of the most common types of shingle used in the roofing industry today.
Asphalt shingles are made from an extremely durable and flexible mat composed of fiberglass or cellulose. Because of the durability and flexibility of these shingles, it makes sense why they serve as the perfect roofing material to accommodate the installation of your solar panels.
In addition to their ideal composition, these shingles are also super easy to install. The installation process only requires you to drill several studs into your roof onto which you attach the shingles.
After this, you just need to seal the spaces between the shingle and the studs with metal flashings so that no water enters your home. It’s as easy as that.
Finally, you’ll have no problem finding a solar panel single roof mount, seeing as asphalt shingles are the best roofing material for the mounting of solar panels. At Shop Solar Kits, we sell solar panel mounts for just about every type of roof, including shingle solar panel mounts.
Metal is another one of the best types of roofing materials for installing solar panels. This is because metal roofs with standing seams make installing your solar panels so much easier.
With standing seam metal roofs, the need for drilling any holes into the roof (as in shingles roofs) is eliminated.
This is because you can mount your solar panels on a metal roof simply by clamping and attaching them to these standing seams themselves. This will also mean that, overall, you save money on labor.
Metal roofs are also known for having a long lifespan ranging from anything between 40-70 years, making them one of the roofing materials that is the most sustainable in the long run.
It’s also interesting to note that metal roofs generally have a semi-reflective surface, so they reflect extra sunlight that does not hit the surfaces of your solar panels, in turn keeping your house cooler in the summer.Tiles
Roof tiles made of clay, slate, or concrete are also a good roofing material for mounting solar panels. Tiles are water-resistant and have a longer lifespan thanks to their excellent strength and durability.
That being said, not only are roof tiles one of the more expensive roofing materials, but they are one of the more labor-intensive to work with and, thus, costly materials when it comes to the installation of solar panels.
This is because they often require the removal of some of your roof tiles so that they don’t break during the installation process. This is also required so that the panels can be mounted directly to your roof for optimal stability and security.
Roofing Materials for Flat Roofs
If your building’s roof is flat, there are several materials that are ideal for installing solar panels. These materials include:
- EPDM (rubber membrane)
Installing solar panels on flat roofs is more labor and cost-intensive because you need to get special equipment to do it
Because the roof is flat, you’ll need to purchase a metal racking system to position your solar panels at a 30-degree angle. This is the best angle for energy output.
If you want the energy output of your solar panels to be as good as they can be, we recommend setting up your solar panels at a 30-degree angle. But what if you don’t have a flat roof – what is the best roof pitch for solar panels?
The calculation of the pitch of your roof is fairly straightforward – you simply divide the vertical rise of your roof by its horizontal run.
Now, if we take that optimal 30-degree angle into account, we’re talking about a roof pitch around about 7/12.
This means that the pitch of roofing optimal for solar panel installation is a rise of seven inches for every 12 inches that your roof extends horizontally.
Earlier we mentioned that if your roof is flat, it’s not the end of the world because you can always install metal brackets that prop your solar panels up at a 30-degree angle. But what if your roof is steeper than that 7/12 ratio we mentioned earlier?
Having such a steeper roof will also not be the end of the world. If you have a tilt of close to 40 degrees, you only lose one percent of energy production. However, we don’t recommend installing your solar panel at an angle above 40 degrees.
A pitch that is too steep doesn’t only negatively impact the overall power output of your solar panel, but it also makes installing the panels harder than it needs to be.
Shape & Size
When installing solar panels for the first time, one of the questions you need to ask yourself is how many solar panels will fit on your roof.
The average solar panel for residential purposes takes up a minimum of 300 feet of the surface area of your roof.
Because most solar panels are square or rectangular, a roof that has a large square or rectangular area is ideal for solar panel installation. However, this is rare and there are also features like chimneys that obstruct the overall surface area of your roof.
For this reason, we recommend consulting a contractor to help you calculate the overall surface area of your roof so you can optimize the number of solar panels you can install.
If you’re in the northern hemisphere, you need to orientate your solar panels to face true south to get the best power output out of them.
If your solar panels don’t face true south, it doesn’t mean that your solar panels will produce no energy. It just means they’ll produce less energy.
This is because your solar panels will receive true south they will receive direct sunlight throughout most of the day.
Shade reduces the amount of sunlight that hits your solar panels by either partially or completely obstructing the path of the light from the sun to the surface of your panel.
Shade can be cast by large trees or even larger buildings close to your home.
You need to install your solar panels on the segment of your roof that receives the least or no shade at all. If there is no such portion, say due to a large tree casting a shadow over your roof, we recommend removing the tree or any other source of shade if possible.
In this article, we looked at all the factors you need to consider when determining if you have the best roof for solar panels and how you can improve your roof to be so.
If you follow the guidelines we have provided and consider the factors we’ve listed above, we guarantee that your roof will be the best roof for solar panels.
This is so because not only will your solar panels have the most effective power output possible, but they’ll also be able to be installed with the least difficulty, yet with the most stability and overall security.
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