Determining your home’s solar rooftop compatibility

Determining your home’s solar rooftop compatibility

Last Updated: May 6th, 2019 at 1:13 pm
Read Time: 4 Minutes

Switching to solar energy to save money and help save the planet has a lot of appeal. As you begin to research solar panels, you’ve probably wondered if your roof is even suitable for solar panels.

To get the most out of your solar panels, they should be installed where they will get the most sun. For most homes, this is the roof. The ideal roof would be south-facing, get plenty of sunlight, and have a tilt of about 30-45 degrees. However, even if your roof doesn’t have these characteristics, you still can get solar panels installed. And if you can’t install panels on your roof, you can look into a ground-mounted system.

Figure out how much sun your roof gets

Trees or buildings near your home may block the sun, which will affect how much energy your solar system produces. Here’s a simple way to find out how much sun your roof gets. First, go outside a few times during the day and visually assess when your roof, and what parts of it, get full sun.

Next, determine how many days of sun you get on a regular basis. You can easily check how much peak sunlight is available in your area by checking the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) map. Ideally, your roof will get full sun between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. all year long.

The more peak sunlight your home gets, the more solar energy it can generate. Getting at least 4 hours of peak sunlight is considered best for solar rooftop panels. However, even Alaska, a state that gets less than four hours of peak sun, still can benefit from solar power.

Where is the best place to install my solar rooftop panels?

The best place for rooftop solar panels is on a south-facing roof without obstructions such as vents, antennas, or a chimney. West- and east-facing roofs also get enough sun for solar panels. If you don’t have very much unobstructed room for panels, or the only available space is north-facing, or most of the space gets a lot of shade from surrounding trees or buildings, your roof may not be the best spot. You always can consider ground-mounted solar panels.

Which roof materials work with solar rooftop installations?

While some materials work better than others when installing solar rooftop panels, most roofs work well with solar. The most common roofing material, asphalt shingles, are perfect for solar panel installations. Metal roofs also work well with solar.

If your roof is made of something other than the types named above, don’t worry, we will evaluate you roof to determine whether we can move forward with your project.

How does roof condition affect the installation?

Our rooftop solar panels come with a 30-year warranty, and most of them will continue working long after the warranty has expired. So, you don’t want to replace your roof shortly after your new panels have been installed. Evaluate your roof, and if it’s in need of an upgrade, have that taken care of before the installation of your panels.

You can have your roof replaced after solar panel installation, but you’ll need to have them removed and reinstalled to do so. If you have 10-15 years left in your roof, go ahead and have your panels installed. If you have serious issues with your roof, or less than 10 years before it is due for replacement, consider tackling roof issues before you install your panels.

Something to remember: POWERHOME Solar is also a roofing company, so we can do both roofing and solar projects for you!

What roof styles and slopes are good for solar rooftop panels?

Solar panels require a certain amount of space to be installed properly. A large, rectangular roof with no chimney or vents is, of course, ideal for solar rooftop installation. But that is not the norm. Solar panel installers are familiar with many different types of roof styles and can work around features such as skylights, chimneys and dormers, if needed.

You’ll also have to consider the slope of your roof. If your array is flat, you may find that reduced precipitation runoff affects overall efficiency. If the slope is too steep, you may be limiting the amount of sunlight your panels can take in. In general, a 30-degree tilt works well. Your solar installer will let you know the optimal arrangement for your panels.

Homeowners association (HOA) rules and regulations

If you live in a townhouse or subdivision governed by an HOA, you may not get the last word about your solar panel installation. Many HOAs have regulations governing the outer structure of homes, roof included. POWERHOME Solar works to secure the needed approvals from HOAs during all of its behind-the-scenes work leading up to installation.

What if your roof isn’t suited for solar panels?

Even if your roof isn’t suited for solar panels, you still can switch to solar power. There may be other buildings on your property, such as a garage or shed, that are suitable for solar panels. Or, you may have room for a ground-mounted solar panel system.

If you are interested in installing rooftop solar panels, or any other solar panel installation, contact us at 800-765-2715. We’ll be happy to come to your home for a roof inspection and consultation.