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The Best Roofing Materials for Solar Panels

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So, you've decided to go solar, right? Fantastic! However, if you're like me, you could be wondering something like this... "What's the best roofing material for my shiny new solar panels?" Well, you're in the right place to find out! You need a roof that will survive for as long as your solar energy system will, which is often 25 to 30 years.

Choosing the right roofing material isn't just about aesthetics or cost—it's a pivotal decision that can make or break your solar experience. It's like picking the perfect pair of shoes for a marathon... you wouldn't want to run in flip-flops, would you? It's a decision that can impact everything from installation costs to the efficiency of your solar system.

In this article, We're here to guide you through this crucial decision, ensuring you're well-equipped to make the best choice for your home and your solar journey.


Key Highlights

  • Choosing the right roofing material is crucial for solar panel installation. Asphalt shingles, metal, tile, and tar and gravel roofs each have their pros and cons.

  • Roof replacement might be necessary before solar installation if your roof is old or damaged.

  • The suitability of your roof for solar depends on its angle, orientation, and size.

  • Some roofs may not be suitable for solar due to shading, old age, or incorrect pitch.

  • Always seek professional advice when considering solar panel installation.


Best Material for Solar Roofs: The Four Contenders

You may now choose the ideal roof for your solar panels. But where do you even begin? Let's break it down, then. Asphalt shingles, metal roofing, tile roofing, and tar and gravel roofing are the four primary challengers in the ring. The ideal option for you will rely on a number of variables because each has advantages and disadvantages of its own.

1. Asphalt Shingles: The Popular Kid

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles... they're like the popular kid in school. They're everywhere! And there's a good reason for that. They're affordable, durable, and flexible. But how do they fare with solar panels? Pretty well, actually!

Asphalt shingles typically last about 12 to 30 years, depending on the quality and where you live. And guess what? Higher-quality shingles are best for solar panels because you don't want your system to outlive your roof. Makes sense, right?

But here's the kicker: installing solar panels on an asphalt roof requires drilling studs into your roof and attaching solar panel mounts at those locations. Sounds complicated? Don't worry, any reputable installer should be comfortable with this process. Ready to go solar with asphalt shingles? Get a quick free solar quote to get you started.

2. Metal Roofing: The Long-Lasting Champion

Next up, we have metal roofing. If longevity is your game, metal roofing is your champion. These roofs can last a whopping 40 to 75+ years! They're non-flammable and can be energy efficient.

But there's a catch. Metal roofs can be quite expensive to install. However, if you're looking at the long game, this high upfront cost can be offset by the roof's durability and energy efficiency.

3. Tile Roofing: The Durable Contender

roof tiles

Tile roofs are common in hot climates or coastal areas due to their durability. You may be sure that your tile roof will outlast your solar system because these roofs can endure more than a century (assumedly if it was put within the previous 50 years or so). They can complicate your solar installation, however, they are more expensive than asphalt roofs (though often less expensive than metal roofs).

Since tiles can be constructed of a variety of materials, it is crucial to know for sure what kind of material your tiles are before continuing.

Following are some examples of roof tile materials:

  • Concrete,

  • Ceramic,

  • Metal,

  • Synthetic Cedar, and

  • Slate

The cost of your solar installation might be affected by the material selection. Solar panel installation on clay tiles, for instance, can be more expensive than on concrete tiles.

Despite the challenges, it's definitely possible to install solar on a tile roof. Ready to take the plunge? But that is why you need a reputable solar expert to help you handle it.

4. Tar and Gravel Roofing: The Supportive Player

Last but not least, we have tar and gravel roofs. They work well with solar because they're supportive and energy efficient. They typically last about 20 to 30 years and are easy to patch and repair if any damage does occur.

However, if you have a tar and gravel roof, your roof is probably quite flat, so you'll need some additional hardware to ensure your solar panels are pitched at the best angle.

The layers of sheets that make up tar and gravel roofs are fastened together with hot tar and roofing felt. There are also some additional mineral coatings applied. These flat rooftops could need extra brackets that can be angled at a 30-degree angle since they are flat.

Despite how easy it is to accomplish, installing this way will cost more money than doing it with a different material or on a roof that is inclined. The installation of solar panels may still be done on tar and gravel roofs, though.

Remember, the best roofing material for your solar panels will depend on your unique situation. But no matter what roof you have, we're here to help you make the most of your solar journey.

Does Your Roof Require Replacement?

two men switching roof to a clay tiles roof
two men switching roof to a clay tile roof

"Does my roof need a makeover before the solar panels come in?". This is another key question you need to consider when switching to solar.

Thing is, this question is a bit like asking if you need to renovate your house before buying new furniture. It depends. If your roof is nearing the end of its life or if it's damaged, then yes, you might want to consider a replacement. After all, you wouldn't want to install a brand-new solar system on a roof that's about to retire, right?

But here's the good news. If your roof is in good shape and has a good 15 to 20 years left in it, you're probably good to go. But remember, this isn't a DIY assessment. It's always best to get a professional opinion.

So, before you jump into the solar bandwagon, take a moment. Look at your roof. Is it ready for the solar journey? If you're unsure, schedule a roof inspection with our team. We're here to help you make the right decision. After all, it's not just about going solar, it's about doing it right!

Is Your Roof Good for Solar? The Solar Suitability Checklist

So, you've got your roofing material sorted, and your roof is in good shape. But there's another question... "Is my roof actually good for solar?" Well, let's find out!

1. The Perfect Angle: Is Your Roof Pitched Just Right?

When it comes to solar, the angle of your roof can make a big difference. Picture a sunflower following the sun... your solar panels need to do the same. Ideally, they should be angled towards the sun for maximum exposure.

In general, a 30-degree pitch is considered the sweet spot. But remember, this isn't a one-size-fits-all rule. Depending on where you live, the perfect angle could be anywhere between 30 and 45 degrees.

2. The Ideal Orientation: Which Way Does Your Roof Face?

Next up, we have the direction your roof faces. If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, a south-facing roof is your best bet. Why? Because it gets the most sunlight throughout the day. But don't worry if your roof faces east or west. You can still get enough sunlight to make your solar investment worthwhile.

3. The Right Size: Is Your Roof Big Enough?

Finally, let's talk about size. You'll need about 24 square feet of roof space for each solar panel. And considering an average home needs 20 to 24 panels to fully offset utility bills, you're looking at a minimum of 480 to 580 square feet of roof space. But remember, this can vary depending on your energy consumption and the efficiency of your solar system.

What Roofs Are Not Suitable for Solar Panels?

Now, we've talked a lot about what makes a roof great for solar. But what about the flip side? Are there roofs that are a no-go for solar panels? Well, yes, there are.

First off, if your roof is in the shade most of the day, it might not be the best candidate for solar. Remember, solar panels need sunlight to generate electricity. So, if your roof is under a big tree or overshadowed by taller buildings, solar might not be the best fit.

Secondly, if your roof is old or damaged, it's not the best idea to install solar panels. You wouldn't want to install a brand-new solar system on a roof that's about to retire, would you?

Furthermore, the optimal direction for a solar panel to generate the most power is true south. A north-facing roof is often not seen to be the best. While most homes with a north-facing roof will also have an opposing roof face, depending on how the structure is designed, this may not always be the case.

Lastly, if your roof is too steep or too flat, it might not be ideal for solar. The perfect pitch for solar panels is somewhere between 30 and 45 degrees. Anything more or less could reduce the efficiency of your solar system.

But remember, these are just general guidelines. Every situation is unique, and there might be solutions to overcome these challenges. So, if you're unsure about your roof's suitability for solar, don't hesitate to reach out. Contact us for expert advice. We're here to help you navigate your solar journey, every step of the way.


Best roof direction for solar panels:

For homes in the Northern Hemisphere, south-facing roofs are ideal for solar panels as they receive the most sunlight throughout the day

What roof tiles are best for solar panels?

What is the longest-lasting roof material?

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