Is Your Roof Type Suitable for Solar Panels?

If you want to save money on electric bills and have your own supply of clean energy, solar panels are just what your home needs. In this article, we will break down how to install solar panels on different roof types.

Metal roofs: Easiest option

Metal roofs are the most convenient for solar panels. The installation of a standard home solar system can be done in one day. But this is not their only advantage, metal roofs are also:

Durable: They have a lifespan of more than 50 years, which is well in line with the 25-30 year lifespan of solar panels.

Reflective: Metal roofs reflect the light bouncing it to solar panels and increasing their performance. And if you install bifacial solar panels, you can increase the output by an extra 25%.

Easy to install: Some types of metal roofs don’t even require drilling.

Does a metal roof have any drawbacks? Well, of course there are some, but they are not related to solar panels:

Expensive to replace: If you want to replace your roof before installing solar panels, be ready to shell out – a metal roof is more costly than other options.

Prone to corrosion: Over time, metal roofs can get corroded, especially in coastal areas.

The process of installing solar panels on a metal roof depends on its type. If you have a standing-seam roof, the modules can be attached directly to the seams with U-clamps. If you have a corrugated metal roof, U-clamps are not an option, you need special brackets. These are mounted on the rib and then fixed with galvanized screws.

Flat roofs: Сontroversial case

When it comes to installing solar panels on a flat roof, not every contractor is ready to take on this job. Why so? This type of roof is both easy and tricky to work with. The “easy” part includes:

More space: You can install more solar panels, because you have the whole roof at your disposal, not just one south slope.

More flexibility: You can turn the panels in any direction and adjust the tilt angle for better energy generation.

Easy installation: You can install solar panels without drilling by securing them with ballast such as cinder or concrete blocks.

Easy maintenance: You can safely walk on the flat roof, which means that the solar panels will be easier to clean, inspect, and repair if necessary.

The advantages are quite weighty. But what about the downsides? There are quite a few of them:

More warranty problems: Not every company gives a warranty for panels installed on flat roofs, as they tend to pool rainwater, which can lead to breakage.

More fasteners required: In high winds, tilted solar panels are like sails, so the supporting structure must be not only supporting but also anchoring to ensure they are not carried away by the wind.

Higher risk of leaks: Flat roofs tend to collect water. If you drill a hole to secure solar panels and don’t seal it properly, water can easily get into the hole and make the situation even worse.

What about installation? Solar panels can be installed onto a special tub that is either weighted with concrete or cinder blocks or bolted directly to the roof. Panels can also be mounted on metal structures, which can also either be weighted with heavy blocks or bolted.

Tile roofs: Challenging scenario

Tile roofs are a much more complicated example. Let’s start with the bright sides. There aren’t many – just one:

Durability: A tile roof lasts for 50-75 years. The average lifespan of a solar system is 25 years, which means your roof can see two or three solar systems before it needs to be repaired.

What about the disadvantages of having a tile roof if you want to go solar? Here they are:

Fragility: A tile roof can hardly bear extra weight and is very easy to break. This is why you need a more skilled contractor and it takes more time to install panels.

Cost: Tile roof jobs are typically more expensive than others.

As for installation, there are several ways to approach it. The first is to use a special rack mounted on the roof which will serve as a frame for panels. And the second option is to replace some of the tiles with metal shingles, and then use screws or clamps.

Bottom line: solar panels can be installed on any roof, be it metal, tile, or flat. The only difference is how tricky or straightforward the installation process will be. In the end, you always get yourself a solar system that generates energy for your home all day long and brings your bills down to zero.


Tags: green energy, panel, roof, solar

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