Solar Panels On A Flat Roof Yes Heres How
As renewable energy becomes more affordable, it becomes more and more ubiquitous. We have arrived at a point in time where it isnt easy to cruise through just about any neighborhood without seeing at least one solar panel.
While any building can benefit from installing solar panels, some people may wonder if their roof might not be a viable candidate for housing the panels. These would be the people with flat roofs on their buildings.
What’s In This Article
Which Direction Should The Array Be Orientated
In the UK, the optimal direction for your solar panel array is due south, to best capture the suns energy. However, there will be instances where due south is not a practical choice for your solar panel installation. For example, if the footprint of your property runs in a northeast to southwest direction, you would fit fewer panels at a due south direction on your roof than you would if you followed the orientation of your roofscape. A larger array set at a different orientation may produce a larger output than fitting a smaller array at a due south orientation.
In solar panel designs, rows of panels facing in the same direction are common. If your property has a south-facing footprint however, an eastwest solar array is an alternative option. This is where rows of panels sit back to back in a zigzag profile, facing east and west alternately. By using this design, you dont need to leave any space between rows, therefore maximising the number of panels you can fit on a roof space, and your solar systems output.
Two Types Of Flat Roof Solar Panel Racking Systems
Can you install solar panels on a flat roof? You definitely can. However, the picture in your mind might be something like this: there’s a tall tower holding up a solar panel on top of your flat roof. True enough, this type of solar panel exists, and contractors call them a ground-mounted solar panel system.
Homeowners in Manchester CT have rooftop solar panel systems available for laying solar panels flat or tilted. Get to know more about both systems below.
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Flat Roofs May Make Installing A Pv System Easier
While some people think solar panels arent compatible with flat roofs, the opposite is true.
Homes with flat roofs provide an ideal location for solar panels.
Whats more, installing solar panels on a flat roof can be less expensive than adding panels to a pitched roof, even though many people assume it will be the opposite. With the right roof types, many flat roof solar options are available to homeowners and small commercial building owners.
Finally, your installer can adjust solar panels on a flat roof to maximize electricity production and make the most of the suns potential power on a daily basis.
Because of these outstanding benefits, more people are installing PV systems on their flat roofs and reaping the benefits year after year.
How Old Your Roof Is
It isnt a good idea to mount solar panels on old roofs. You will end up paying additional funds to your roofing contractor to remove panels before installing a new roof.
Besides, roofs undergo rapid deterioration as they age. So your old roof risks crumbling down if you add the additional solar panel weight.
Most roofs survive for about 20 years. Notable signs of aging include:
- Curling shingles
- Excessive growth on the roof
- Streaks and decolorization
Never install PV panels on roofs that are more than 15 years old.
Panels have a 2530-year lifespan and will likely outlive any older roof. Installing a new roof before putting solar panels on your roof is ideal.
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How Do Solar Panels Attach To My Roof
Solar panels can attach to roofs in different ways. The attachment method used will depend mainly on the material and the pitch of your roof. In most cases, with the exception of standing seam metal roofs, solar panels are mounted with a system that drills into the rafters. Lets take a look at some common setups:
- Asphalt Shingle Roof: For asphalt shingle roofs, solar panels are attached with a standard penetrating mount, which is easy to install.
- Tile Roof: Solar panels can be installed on tile roofs with a standard penetrating mount that raises them above the roof. Attaching solar panels to a tile roof can require some extra labor since tiles may need to be cut or removed to make way for the mounts.
- Standing Seam Metal Roof: The raised seam allows solar panels to be attached with a clamp, so theres no need to drill into the roof.
- Flat Roof: On flat roofs, either a ballasted racking or standard penetrating mount can be used to install solar panels. Tilt-up brackets are used to keep solar panels at a 30-degree angle.
Some homeowners may be concerned about drilling into their roofs. However, the stanchions used to mount panels to rafters are flashed, which keeps water from leaking into your home.
What Is The Best Roof For Solar Panels
Solar energy isnt just what you use to power on a few porch lights or a watch. Today, solar energy is harnessed more and more as a way of going green and saving money. There are now close to 2 million solar installations in the U.S., and that number is expected to double by 2023.
One reason people are now installing solar panels in increasing numbers is that it has become much more affordable to do so. In fact, the cost has come down by more than 70% in the past eight years. Additionally, you can enjoy tax incentives, including the federal Investment Tax Credit and, in many cases, state tax breaks, as well.
If you are one of the many American homeowners who care deeply about the environmental benefits of cleaner energy, then there has never been a better time to consider installing solar panels on your roof. Solar panels can help your home become more energy efficient, which also increases the value of your home, all while helping the environment. If youre looking into having solar panels installed on your roof, you likely have some questions, such as can I put solar panels on my type of roof and how will solar panels affect my roof? Lets take a look at some answers to these common queries.
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A Note About Dust Accumulation On Flat Solar Panel Arrays
One other thing to keep in mind if your panels are horizontal is that they will not self-clean as effectively as panels at a tilt dust has a higher chance of accumulating and impeding electricity production. The drop in performance due to dust accumulation on panels is roughly between 5% and 10%. On the other hand, solar panel arrays tilted at an angle even a slight angle are more likely to be washed clean when it rains.
Benefits Of Putting Any Solar Panels On A Flat Roof
So, you now know the answer to the question, can you have solar panels on a flat roof? But you may be wondering if this process is worth it for you. Well, that all depends on what you think of the benefits of adding solar panels to your flat roof. There are many to consider before buying anything new.
Well outline a few of these advantages here for you to make your purchasing decision that much easier. We took our time researching these elements and helping to make it easier for the average homeowner to understand. Thankfully, it shouldnt be too hard to understand that solar panels on a flat roof are:
As you can see, the benefits of adding a solar panel to a flat roof far outweigh the negatives. But, just as importantly, you may find that this option works the best for your needs, rather than having to upgrade your roof with a roofing professional who would charge you a lot for a new slope.
Just because the answer to the question can you have solar panels on a flat roof? is a positive one, that doesnt mean you should rush out and get a new set of panels before you understand the process required. Thankfully, this process is easier to understand than you might have anticipated.
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Can You Install Solar Panels On A Flat Roof
Not every building has an A-line roof, and there are those of us out there whove had the audacity to build ourselves a building with a flat roof. While it looks great, and its something different, a flat roof can present a few obstacles to features common to many other buildings.
You can install solar panels on a flat roof, but to do so, youll have to make some adjustments that your pitch-roof owning neighbors wouldnt. But its possible, and by installing solar panels on your roofflat or otherwiseyou can do a lot to cut down on your utility bills and help even a little bit in the quest to preserve the environment.
The Cons Of Flat Roof Solar Panels
- Flat roof systems take up more space per kW than on-roof photovoltaic systems. This is because, there must be a separation between rows of the PV panels, in order to prevent on row shading another.
- Installing Solar Panels on a flat roof is dependant on your roof structure, as it must be able to handle the additional weight.
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Can You Install Solar Panels On Asphalt Shingle Roofs
Asphalt is perhaps the most popular roof material as such, asphalt shingle solar panel installations are common and straightforward. Installers will drill studs into your roof and attach panel mounts at those locations. The space around the brackets is both sealed and surrounded with a flashing a metal plate used to prevent water infiltration to finish the job.
Recommended Roof Sizing For Solar Panels
The average residential PV module is about 3×5 feet, meaning each panel will occupy around 15 square feet.
Most American homes require a 5kW solar power system to meet their energy needs. That means you need approximately 20 panels on your roof. In addition, your roof must have at least 300 square feet of free space to accommodate these panels.
A larger family with more energy needs will require more panels, which translates to more roof space. Keep in mind however that if you dont need to meet all of your energy needs you can install fewer panels.
Measuring your roof size isnt as straightforward as it looks. Youll need to factor in features like chimneys and dormers. Its advisable to enlist roofing contractors to measure your roof and calculate the required number of panels.
Never purchase PV modules without determining the size of your roof.
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Installation Costs For Flat Roof Solar Panels Are Competitive With A Standard Sloped Rooftop Installation
Labor and installation costs typically make up about ten percent of your total solar panel system costs. This is partially due to the logistics of climbing around on a steep roof to affix solar panels and their mounts. The process of installing a solar panel system on a flat roof is simpler by comparison workers can move freely on the roof without special equipment, and most of the roof materials used on flat roofs can easily handle the wear that occurs during the installation process.
As an added benefit, your solar installer wont need to make holes in your roof to install flat solar panels. Solar installations on sloped rooftops typically use a penetration mount, which fixes the racking that holds the solar panels to your rooftop by drilling multiple holes. Flat roof systems typically use a weighted mounting system instead . This system uses gravity to sit atop on your roof without the need for any holes.
That being said, solar panels installed on flat roofs sometimes require specialized equipment to maximize their electricity production. Instead of laying flat solar panels on a sloped roof, your solar installer will likely use angled mounts that tilt your solar panels up so that theyre exposed to the sun for as much of the day as possible. This can sometimes result in a slightly higher price tag for your flat roof solar panel system.
How Are Solar Panels Attached To Flat Roof
Apenetration mounts are used to fix the solar panels on your rooftop by drilling multiple holes. Flat roof systems typically use a weighted mounting system to hold the panels in place.
If youre installing a solar system on a flat roof, youll need to drill a hole in the roof to mount your panels. Youll also need a mounting bracket for the panel to sit on.
If you dont already have one, check with your roofing contractor to see if they can install one for you.
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Solar Panels On A Flat Roof
In this article, you will learn about installing solar panels on a flat including the top ways to improve the output of an array.
The good news is that it is completely possible to put solar panels on a flat roof. It is very common to do but requires a different approach to a pitched roof you usually see on houses.
Youll see many large commercial buildings that have flat roofs with dozens of solar panels on top. As long as your structure is strong enough you should be able to add a solar array.
Below we will discuss the key factors to consider and discuss with your installer to get the best results.
In This Article
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Comparison Between Inclined Vs Flat Solar Panels Simulation Results
We did 2 simulations for an 11.2kWp solar power system. One with 5 degrees inclination and the other is with flat solar panels or with a 0-degree tilt angle.
If you want to learn how to do solar power system simulation, you may want to check this article. Here are the results:
As seen in the results, the system will produce 586kWh more each year just by having 5 degrees tilt than having it flat. This is not even considering the losses due to dust accumulation on your panels if you install the solar panels at a zero-degree tilt.
At 10 degrees tilt angle, the 11.2kWp system will produce 14,520kWh to the grid in one year.
So, to avoid these disadvantages, you should install your solar panels with at least 5 degrees tilt angle. You can do this by choosing the correct mounting supports for your modules. This way, your flat roof solar power system will generate more kWh.
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Is My Roof Compatible With Solar Panels
Whether youre thinking of installing solar panels on your current roof or re-roofing first, there are a few things to consider to make sure your roof will accommodate solar panels. The good news is most types of roofs are compatible with solar panels. However, roofs today arent usually installed with solar in mind, so you may have to make some adjustments to your current roof. Or, if youre installing a new roof, you can keep these factors in mind in order to optimize your new roof for a solar installation.
Besides the age and condition of a roof, the main aspects that affect its compatibility with solar panels are:
Lets take a quick look at each of these factors.
What Pitch Do Flat Roof Solar Panels Need To Be
Solar panels that are mounted onto flat roofs need to be installed at a pitch that captures as much sunlight as possible, as well as keeping the panel clean. By mounting the panels at an angle of at least 10 degrees, self-cleaning is possible. Thankfully, self-standing solar panels are usually fitted at a 20 and 50 degree angle. As MCS accredited Solar Panel installers, the team here at Deege Solar will determine the best pitch for your panels at point of consultation. All our consultations and survey are free of charge, so get in touch today to get a free Solar PV system designed!
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How To Add Solar Panels To Flat Roofs
The most common method of installing solar panels on a flat roof is using the ballast mount method.
This type of installation doesnt typically require any roof penetrations. Instead, the solar panels are held in place with weights.
A metal racking system is laid on the flat roof, and the solar panels are screwed into place on the rack. Then, heavy concrete blocks are placed on the racking system to secure them to the roof.
When designing your solar system, your installer will calculate how much these blocks need to weigh to keep your system safe and secure, even in the heaviest winds.
Ballast mount systems are often the preferred installation method for flat roofs because, in most cases, they do not require any roof penetrations, and they wont be suitable for all buildings.
Ballast-mounted solar systems are much heavier than other types due to the added concrete blocks. Your building will need to handle that added weight, and not all flat roofs are designed to do that.
If this is the case, your solar installer can still install a solar panel system on your flat roof, but they will need to penetrate the roof to do so. Most times, a third-party roofing contractor will do these penetrations.
How Do Solar Panels Work On A Flat Roof
You mostly find flat roofs on commercial buildings. However, residential areas also use this option. The solar panels installed are the same as the traditional PVs, but there are various considerations to make. Such include:
- The solar panel systems ability to clean itself when it rains: The collection of water around the solar panels can damage the system. It can also affect your roof.
- It should also be sturdy enough to avoid damage from strong winds. Strong winds present a potential risk to your solar energy system.
- You should also consider the systems pitch, ensuring it captures enough light. The more sunlight it captures, the more energy you generate.
- You may require experts for this roof type. Not all installers are skilled to offer flat roof solar installation.
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