How Much Does a Solar Panel Weigh?
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Solar panels can take up quite a bit of roof space, and it's safe to assume that a device taking up that much surface area would have a bit of weight to it. So exactly how much does a solar panel weigh? And what does it mean for your roof?
How Heavy Are Solar Panels?
Solar panels aren't made to be extremely heavy, and in most cases, they’ll be able to fit onto your roof with no issue. As for how heavy they are, the exact weight of a solar panel can differ according to the manufacturer, the type of panel you’ve bought, and the size of your solar panels.
Most standard solar panels have just about the same weight. This is because solar manufacturers have to follow industry standards for panel sizes, and because standard solar panels are more or less the same size, they also have a similar weight.
The number of cells in each solar panel is unique to its design. A single residential solar panel of standard size, made up of 60 solar cells and measuring 39 by 65 inches, will generally weigh close to 40 pounds. A standard-sized commercial solar panel, which is slightly bigger than residential panels and contains 72 solar cells, typically weighs more than 50 pounds.
Overall, solar panels can weigh as little as 33 pounds with the heaviest of them exceeding 50 pounds. Certain types of solar panels can even weigh as little as just 4 pounds.
What Determines the Weight of a Solar Panel?
Solar panels can come in an array of sizes, and there are different types available to cater to different needs. Their specific weight can vary because of those factors.
Type of Solar Panel
The type of solar panels you choose to install is an important thing to consider if you're concerned with the weight a solar installation will add to your roof. The type you choose is key to understanding the specs of you solar panel.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Polycrystalline panels are the most commonly used type on the market. This can be attributed to their affordability thanks to having a more cost-effective manufacturing process.
These solar panels are made of multiple silicon crystals that are melted and molded together to form a single solar cell. In terms of appearance, the melded silicon crystals give the panels a dark blue color which is a common characteristic that comes to mind when thinking of solar panels.
A polycrystalline solar panel will have an average weight of 42 pounds, give or take.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Monocrystalline panels are the oldest and most efficient type of solar panels on the market. Their efficiency comes at a cost, making them the most expensive type of solar panel.
The solar cells on a monocrystalline panel are made from just a single silicon crystal, which is why this type of solar panel has a higher level of efficiency than others. These panels are characterized by their sleek appearance and cells that give off a black hue.
These are generally heavier than polycrystalline solar panels and have an average weight of around 50 pounds or more per panel.
Thin-Film Solar Panels
Thin-film solar panels are the cheapest and easiest type of solar panel to manufacture. They also leave behind the least waste material and are the most environmentally friendly type of solar panel to manufacture.
They are made by placing photovoltaic material between a sheet of conductive material and a layer of glass. This may be the cheapest and easiest to produce, but that is offset by its low level of efficiency.
Thin-film solar panels can weigh anywhere between 33 to 50 pounds.
Flexible Solar Panels
Flexible solar panels are perfect for providing power to those going off-grid for camping or while hitting the road in an RV. This type of panel is specifically made to be compact and portable, which is why flexible solar panels are so lightweight.
These panels are made using the same method as thin-film solar panels, except using silicone. The silicon layers used for flexible panels are 300 times smaller than those used for standard solar panels. This allows them to be bent without sustaining any damage.
Most flexible solar panels weigh from around 4 to just over 10 pounds. They are light enough to use on roofs that are too delicate for a regular system, but they aren't as efficient and would require many of them to get the job done.
Solar Panel Frame and Glass Covering
Much of a solar panel's weight can be attributed to the aluminum frame and glass covering, as well as the mounting racks and equipment used to hold them in place. These features add weight because they aim to make the solar panels more durable in harsh weather.
Solar panels are covered using tempered glass, which is the industry standard. Tempered glass is much heavier than regular glass but it's necessary to protect the panels against any harsh elements, such as hail measuring up to 1 inch in diameter and falling at 50 miles per hour.
Find out Whether or Not Your Roof Can Handle a Solar Installation
A structural evaluation of your rooftop is important if you're planning on purchasing solar, not just in regards to weight but also for things like available space and shading.
A vast majority of residential and commercial roofing will be able to handle the weight of a solar panel system, but there are still some rare cases where the roof is too old or lacks the structural integrity needed for the project.
This is why it is necessary to check beforehand whether or not your rooftop is capable of holding that load. To assess the weight-bearing capacity of your rooftop you'd need to enlist the help of a third party who’ll be able to do a professional evaluation of your property.
The roofing company or structural engineers will evaluate your roof and the solar panel system you intend to install. If your roof can handle the solar panels, the evaluator will give you their approval to start the solar project.
If your roof is found to not be structurally suitable, there will be various options available to help you. This includes things like repairing or reinforcing your roof. After adjustments are made on your roof it will be evaluated once more, and if the structure is deemed suitable your solar project will be given the green light.
How Much Weight Will Solar Panels Add to Your Roof?
A solar panel system made up of standard-sized panels measuring 39 by 65 inches and weighing around 40 pounds each, would add about 3 to 4 pounds per square foot If weight added on by additional hardware and mounting equipment is taken into account as well.
Both residential and commercial roofs are made to handle a load of at least 20 pounds per square foot, so panels can be mounted with no issue in most cases.
Most solar panels are waterproof, but you need to consider the slant of your roof and the added weight of water in heavy rain in your calculations to make sure everything’s safe.
Alternatives to Roof-Mounted Solar Panel Installation
There’s no shortage of obstacles that makes a rooftop solar installation difficult, such as structural instability, limited space, or even something as simple as too much shade in certain areas.
Also, some homeowners might not be too keen to pay for an entire roof renovation on top of the already hefty expenses of a solar panel system.
Luckily, there’s an alternative available that could save homeowners the trouble.
Having your solar panels mounted on the ground is a great alternative if you have enough space available on your property. Of course, the surface you use would need to be fit for solar panel usage, meaning there should be no looming shade from trees or neighboring buildings.
Ground-mounted panels are just as efficient, and they come with the additional advantage of being set up at an angle that will capture the most sunlight.
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