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Do Solar Panels Heat Up Your Roof?

By Benjamin Strusnik March 15, 2022

Do Solar Panels Heat Up Your Roof

Whether you've already purchased a solar panel system or are considering doing so, you may have a lot of questions such as, "Do solar panels heat up your roof?" or “Do solar panels damage roofs?”

While arguments about solar panels tend to revolve mostly around their efficiency, value for money, and feasibility for individuals and companies, it is equally important to evaluate if and how solar panels keep buildings warm or cold. 

This article covers everything that happens after installing solar panels on the roof.

Roof Heat and Solar Panels

You might not know how much heat energy a dark surface can absorb unless you work on a roof. On a hot summer day, a rooftop can get up to 158.0 °F

While roofing materials are designed to withstand high temperatures, the heat can cause the material to wear out faster. The heat from your roof will travel inside your home and raise the indoor temperature.

Even if your building and roof are well-designed and have plenty of ventilation, your air conditioning system will be put to the test.

Do Solar Panels Heat Up the Roof

So to answer the question, solar panels don’t really heat up your roof. Solar panels actually keep your roof cooler. Let us take a closer look at how this happens.

How Do They Keep it Cool?

Solar panels keep your building cool by acting as a physical cover and limiting the amount of heat energy the roof actually gets. 

People instinctively believe that when solar panels turn sunlight into electricity, they produce heat. This, however, is not the case. In fact, solar panels absorb heat that would otherwise be transferred to your roof.

Solar keeps your roof cool in the following ways:

Reflection

Some of the sunlight will be reflected away from your solar panels, just as it will from any other surface. Solar cells will still reflect some of the light that strikes them, even if they are black or dark blue.

Furthermore, the material that covers solar panels is aluminum and glass and these two will reflect some of the energy off. 

Convection

Convection circulation removes a large portion of the heat received by the panels. The movement of air in the gap between the panels and the roof is referred to as the convection current.

As air passes between the solar panels and roof materials, the heat in the panels and roof materials is reduced, lowering the overall temperature of the roof and further cooling the building. 

The design of the roof and how you install the panels may also have an impact. Solar panels installed on flat roofs won’t have as much air circulating beneath them, so it’s better to install them at an angle to get a bigger convection current.

Roof Heat and Solar Panels

Tilted arrays have more space between the panels and the outside of the roofing than other forms of solar arrays. This generates a larger channel for air to pass between the panels and the roof, enhancing cooling even more.

Remember that the best pitch for solar panels is between 5 and 40 degrees because when the sun strikes solar panels at a 40-degree angle, the result is maximum efficiency.

Emittance

A solar panel, like an asphalt roof, heats up in the sun by absorbing part of the solar energy that strikes it. Solar panels are dark, and some are purposefully designed to be all-black for aesthetic reasons. 

They can get rather hot, and some of their energy is re-emitted into the atmosphere.

Conversion

Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity. Residential solar panels are typically efficient when they are anywhere between 16 to 20%. This means that it is this percentage that your solar panel absorbs and converts into electricity, which is then transmitted away as DC current through cables.

The energy that’s converted into electricity is effectively blocked from heating up your roof. This means that up to 20% of the sunlight that would normally be heating up your roof and, therefore, your house, is instead turned into useful electricity to power your appliances.

Does Roofing Material Matter?

If you’ve ever stepped barefoot on a sidewalk on a hot summer day, then you know how that surface can easily burn your feet. This is because dark surfaces absorb heat easily. You’d feel the same heat on a driveway made of asphalt. 

In the United States, asphalt is a very popular material in roof-making. Asphalt shingles are not only inexpensive, but they’re also long-lasting. They are made of a base material covered in asphalt with stone granules.

In addition to that, those shingles are also excellent at absorbing solar energy. 

Asphalt is not the only roofing material. You can also put solar panels on a metal roof which tends to get extremely hot in summer. Their maximum temperature is determined by the amount of heat energy they reflect and emit.

Do Solar Panels Heat Up metal Roof

Solar Panels as Insulation

Similar to the way that solar panels keep your roof from overheating in the summer, they also help your roof stay warm in the winter. 

This is due to the solar panels' ability to retain heat, which slows the rate at which your roof temperature drops. Solar panels, while not as noticeable as they are during the day, will lessen the rate at which your roof cools and assist keep your house warm at night.

This results in lower heating costs during the cold, icy winter months, boosting the solar panel installation's financial returns even more. Overall, solar panels will not only help you save money by generating electricity from the sun, but they will also help you improve the overall energy efficiency of your home all year.

Final Thoughts

So, do solar panels keep your roof cool? The answer is a resounding “Yes.” They help to limit the amount of heat energy that hits your roof while also producing clean, renewable energy.

Investing in solar panels is not simply a terrific method to consume clean, renewable energy while lowering your electricity bill and emissions. They also save you money by enhancing your building's energy efficiency and lowering heating and cooling bills. Installing solar panels on your roof is an excellent choice if you are looking for an environmentally friendly way to generate electricity for your home.

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