Updated: Apr 11
You’ve read about the benefits of solar panels, researched which system you want, and found a local provider in your area for the installation. When you’re about to calculate your future cost savings, you get the news – your roof doesn’t qualify for solar panels.
Despite advances in solar panel technology, not every home is suitable for this equipment. Find out if you have the right roof type for solar energy before you take on the rest of the process. Note that a good solar company can work around common roof issues to accommodate your solar panel needs.
Flat or Sloped Roof
Flat roofs can easily accommodate solar panels. Keep in mind that for solar panels to self-clean, they must sit at a slope of at least 15 degrees. Your installers will be able to adjust your panels as needed on a flat roof. Sloped roofs are typically not problematic for solar panels, especially if your roof slopes at an angle of 30 to 40 degrees. These are the best angles to install the panels. The maximum angle is 40 degrees. Your solar panels will not be efficient on a slope any steeper than this.
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Roofing Material Needed for Solar Panels
Solar panel installers can work with almost any type of roofing material, but some make for a more difficult installation. Common roofing types for solar are asphalt, metal, and slate. The size of roof also matters, as this will determine how many solar panels you can install and thus how much energy you will generate. You will need about 300 square feet of roofing space to accommodate 20 panels.
The Direction Your Roof Faces
Look at whether your roof faces north, south, east, or west. Roofs that face south are best for solar panels, since they receive maximum sun exposure. South-facing solar panels will capture the most light during the sun’s trip across the sky (at least in the northern hemisphere). If your roof doesn’t face south, it’s not the end of the world. West-facing rooftops are also good candidates for solar panels and can generate plenty of energy during the day.
Amount of Shade on the Roof
Obviously, a shady roof will not deliver optimal solar energy. If your roof sees considerable shade, you may see lower savings. If trees around your home create shade, you may be able to trim them back and solve the problem. If another house or building blocks sunlight, there’s not much you can do. An experienced installer can help you consider the possibilities when dealing with a roof that gets a lot of shade.
Age of Your Roof
When is the last time you replaced your roof? A typical asphalt roof will last from 15 to 20 years depending on upkeep. Metal roofs can last 30 years or longer. Concrete tiles last from 35-50 years. If you aren’t sure how old your roof is, request an inspection from a roofing contractor. The company will be able to assess your roof and give you an estimate of when it will need replacing. Make sure you don’t have to replace your roof close to when you install the solar panels. This will only equal more work and expense.
During the roofing inspection, the contractor will also tell you if your roof needs repairs. A leaky roof or one missing shingles will need repairs to qualify for solar panels. Handle roof repairs before installing solar panels. Otherwise, you could risk causing further damage to your roof and suffering water leaks, structural damage, and even collapse. Solar panels are heavy – your roof must be able to hold their weight without issue. Problems with your roof can compromise the integrity of the entire system.
What to Do if Your Roof Doesn’t Qualify for Solar Panels
If solar installers don’t think your roof will work for solar panels, there are other ways to get solar energy in your home. Ask about a ground-mounted solar panel system elsewhere on your property. You could also consider building a solar-panel carport to generate energy and keep your car in the shade during the day. If your community has a solar garden, invest a share to benefit from a communal source of energy.
You can enjoy all the benefits of solar power even if you don’t have the ideal roof. Ask your installer about possible alternatives to rooftop solar panels.