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Can Solar Panels Go On A Flat Roof

The Best Roofs For Solar Panels: What Are The Different Roof Types You Can Install Solar Panels On

Solar Systems on Flat Roofs

Solar can be installed on almost any roof here are some of the most commonly used roof materials that solar installers will encounter on the job:

  • Asphalt shingles
  • Wood
  • Metal

While solar panels can usually be safely and effectively installed on all of the above roof materials, the exact installation processes may differ. As such, there is no best roof for solar panels can go on just about any roof material. Below, well look at each of the various roof materials and how installers secure solar panels to each.

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.

Types Of Solar Power For The Home

There are a few ways in which you can generate power for your home through installing solar panels. It is important to understand your options in order to correctly set up your system and start benefitting from solar power. If you need more help deciding on the best option for your home, get in touch with a contractor. They will provide the additional information you need.

In general, there are three main types of solar power for the home. These include:

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Challenges Of A Flat Roof Solar Installation

As much as there are advantages to installing solar panels on your flat roof, there are some challenges too. However, you can solve them to get the best solar energy system.

First, the installation company may recommend that you use special equipment to maximize energy production. Tilted mounts are some of the structures you may need to do so. The mounts tilt your solar panels, exposing them to more sunlight. As a result, the total cost to install the solar panels can be slightly higher than the slanted roofs.

You can use the ballast system to mount the panels. The roof can fail to handle the weight of the ballast. Additionally, if you add the drilling method, it may lead to roof leakage. The good thing is that technology has advanced enough to prevent such an issue from recurring.

Find The Best Angle For Flat Roof Solar Panels

Is Ballast Mounted Solar Right For Your Flat Roof?

According to a study by Stanford University, a 34° roof tilt angle is the best angle for solar panels in the UK.

The typical solar panel flat roof angle is between 30 and 40 degrees, in which solar panels have a higher chance of absorbing the sunlight. Also, at this angle, solar panels can be clean easier because rain will wash away debris and grime that may reduce the panel’s effectiveness.

Professional installers frequently utilize specialized equipment to mount panels at the proper angle, so make sure you choose a skilled worker to do the job.

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Ballasted Type Mounting Structure

This type of installation utilizes ballasted solar panel racking. Basically, it uses a heavy material to keep the solar racking in place.

There will be no drilling and anchoring works in this type of installation. With this, you will have a quick and easy installation of your solar power system. This is normally used when penetration on the roof is not an option.

Cost And Financial Returns

A flat roof solar system usually costs around £750 – £900 per kWp to install at a commercial premises. The yearly savings and income will depend primarily on the cost of electricity displaced and the percent of electricity used on site. As an average, each kWh will be worth around 17p per kWh for commercial sites, and each kWp installed will yield 890 kWh every year. So each kWp installed will generate savings / income of ~ £151 per year.

The simple payback time will be between 7 and 9 years, compared to a system life of 25+ years.

For a quick quote, try our solar calculator:

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Instructions For Installing Solar Panels On Roofs

Here are the pro tips when mounting solar panel systems on shingle roofs:

Step 1: Lay out the installation materials you need.

Make sure that all the materials necessary for installation are nearby. You surely wouldnt want to go from the roof and back repeatedly.

Step 2: Determine where the stanchions go.

Find the roof rafters with the aid of a stud finder or your homes blueprint. These will help you figure out the correct placement of the stanchions. Position the stanchions at least 4 feet apart.

Step 3: Fasten the screws to the roof.

When fastening the screws to the roof, utilize a drill to create holes in the rafters.

Step 4: Tightly put the screws in the holes and secure them.

It would help if you tightly secured the lower and upper aluminum rails to the stanchions. Utilize bolts to do this. Since optimal tightness is required, utilize an impact driver to achieve this.

Afterward, make sure that you seal the screws tightly to maintain the thermal envelope of your home. Substantially, thermoseal roofing is the most excellent way to execute this.

This approach will help keep an incredibly tight lock on your roof and prevent any elements from getting inside. Leakage is less likely to emerge if the stanchions are correctly installed.

Step 5: Gauge the distance from the rails.

Gauge the distance from the rails when installing solar panels. Put a measuring tape diagonally from the top of one rail to the bottom of the rail situated directly across from it.

What Considerations Need To Be Made For The Wind With Flat Roof Solar Panels

Flat Roof Installation Demo Venture Solar

High winds can pose a potential risk to flat roof mounted solar systems. However, there are a number of options you can use to counter this. There are two methods that are most frequently used to protect a solar system. These are fixing panels to the structure or adding weight to them.

The latter involves fitting ballast frames and heavy slabs to the roof before attaching the solar panels to them. The former, fixing the panels to the structure, involves penetrating the actual roof and securing a support structure and brackets, which the solar panels are attached to. This is a more intrusive method, but some feel that it keeps the array more secure.

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South Facing Roof Orientation Comparison

We looked at differences in solar panel production and savings in different areas of the country in our post Top 10 Cities for Solar . But what happens to these numbers when the roof in question doesnt face south? We took a closer look at six cities Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, see what happens with their solar roofs. Heres what we found:

Even when solar panels arent facing directly south, they can still produce large amounts of electricity, even if you live somewhere that doesnt receive much sun. In general, regardless of where you live, if your solar roof is oriented directly east or directly west instead of the optimal south-facing, you will only see a 20% decrease in the amount of electricity you produce. Even with this decrease in performance, your solar panels would still produce enough electricity to save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Which Option Is Right For You

Ground Racking

  • Added visibility with a small footprint
  • Tracking option increases power generation
  • Suitable for northern climates with harsh weather
  • Can group multiple poles together to boost output

Parking Canopy

  • Add dual functionality to parking lots
  • Create premium parking spots by offering shade
  • Provide net-zero energy to EV chargers
  • Use as a continuous structure or individual ports

Unlike a roof array, you can adjust the panel angles on ground-mount arrays to better absorb sunlight.

Ground-mount systems can be tilted at an optimal angle, which varies depending on how far south or north you are, explains Mike Grunow, marketing director for manufacturer Trina Solar. An angle suitable in Texas is different than one in Minnesota because of their proximity to the equator. When you have a roof array, the angles are limited because you have to consider how much wind the panels could catch.

Ground-mount solar is also relatively simple and fast to install, requiring only light trenching to secure the racking system and a small crew to fasten the panels.

Harness Energy at New Heights If land space is inadequate, consider a pole-mount array. PV panels are attached to sturdy poles several feet off the ground, similar to a satellite dish.

Jennie Morton is associate editor of BUILDINGS.

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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

What Are Solar Shingles

Solar panels fitted onto flat roofs using " Ballast Trays"

Solar panel shingles are a type of solar panel designed to look like traditional asphalt roofing shingles. Solar shingles are made of thin-film photovoltaic cells laminated onto a backing material, thus are less visible on the roof and can provide a more aesthetically pleasing option for some homeowners. Solar shingles for your roof are also easier to install than traditional solar panels.

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Are There Any Downsides To Installing Solar Panels On A Flat Roof

Installing solar panels on flat rooftops for houses or businesses is a wise decision. Solar modules assist homeowners and business owners in not just saving money but also making the most of their roof space. While flat roof solar panels have a lot of drawbacks, keep in mind that most of them may be overcome by employing a tilted mounting system.

Designing Your Solar Panel Array

While solar panels on a pitched roof simply follow the orientation and pitch of the roof, with a flat roof, the exact layout and pitch can be designed specifically for the setting. This is great if you have a large roofscape to work with, but does present its own challenges if you have a smaller or more awkwardly shaped flat roof.

By working with qualified solar panel experts and experienced installers, like Sureseal, you will know that your roof and solar panels are in safe hands.

Want to know more about solar panels or any aspect of flat roofing? Fill out the contact form for a free, no-obligation quote.

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Your Roof Required Condition For Panels

Your roof must be in good condition to support PV panels. The average weight of most residential solar panels is around 40 pounds.

These panels plus mounting hardware add about 3 to 4 pounds per square foot of load to your roof. This weight isnt much but is capable of destabilizing roofs that are in poor condition.

PV modules are also flat, making them susceptible to strong winds. For example, the wind might blow off your panel if you anchor it to a deteriorated or rotted roof.

Always inspect your roof for potential damages before you mount solar panels. Vital aspects you should check include:

  • Shingles
  • Flashing

Watch out for damaged trusses, leaks, mildew, streaks, and cracked shingles.

Remember, a damaged roof lacks the structural integrity to support any additional load. Consider hiring a roofing expert to assess your roof condition.

Recommended Reading: Replacing Roof Trusses

Ballasted Tilt Racks Can Be Used In Wind Region A

Flat Roof Solar Panel Install – Aldershot #solarpower

A ballasted tilt rack requires no roof penetrations and is simply held in place by weights. The weights are normally concrete, although I have seen pictures of some that can have their bases filled with water or sand. Because they dont require any roof penetrations they are quite easy to install provided you have a non-back-breaking way to get the weights up on the roof.

Ballasted racks can be useful on some membrane roofs, which can be problematic to penetrate. The roof will need to be able to support their weight. This is usually not a problem for homes, but is a consideration for commercial and industrial buildings and generally a structural engineer will need to give approval. To ensure security in strong winds they are usually only tilted at a 10 degree angle to reduce wind loading. In addition, they cannot be used in cyclone zones in Australia, but in hurricane prone Haiti they just use an awful lot of concrete blocks:

In Australia ballasted tilt racks have less concrete and more aesthetics.

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Solar Panels On Membrane Roof

Roofing membranes are PVC sheets that prevent water from leaking through a roof and into the building below. Thicker membranes are best for solar installation because they reduce fire risk and provide more support.

If one roof layer fails the whole system may fail, so correct installation of a high-quality membrane layer is essential.

Increased demand for sustainable energy has resulted in the development of roofing membranes with thin, built-in cells. These membranes are flexible, allowing for custom designs and less noticeable solar systems.

This design is helpful for flat roofs because it offers protection against pooling water while still generating power.

Three Ways To Install Solar Panels On A Flat Roof

Whenever people figure out a way to do something, other people surely come up with alternate solutions. Solar panel installation is no different, even when regarding a flat roof. Each method has its pros and cons, and each approach may or may not work with your particular roof due to the construction features you have, but a best way exists for you and your building.

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Are Solar Panels Bad For Your Roof

Parts of the sun are not bad on your roof. The possibility of solar panels damaging your roof depends on the installation method. These nails and bolts are usually driven directly into the roof and into the ceiling or ceiling. Not surprisingly, the holes in the roof can lead to leaks and cracks over time.

Things You Should Know About Installing Solar Panels On Flat Roofs

Atlantic Renewables

So, youve decided you want to install solar panels, but your home or business has a flat roof.

Can you still install solar panels?

The answer is yes! In fact, having a flat roof might even make it easier to install panels.

Installing solar panels on a flat roof is a great way to get as much value as possible from your available surface area and make smart energy decisions. In fact, Consumer Reports states that flat roofs are some of the best for solar panels to power your home.

That said, there are some special considerations youll have to take as you install your panels.

Heres what you need to know.

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You Can Consider Installing It On Your Flat Garage Roof

Can we install solar panels on a garage roof? Yes, you can also successfully install solar panels on your garage with a flat roof. Just like the main roof, it can also be used for solar energy. As long as it can hold the structures and solar modules, you can enjoy additional solar energy sources using your garage roof.

If the roof slope allows it, solar panels can be mounted on the garage roof. Garages that are detached from the house can be a great source of solar energy. If solar panels on your house dont appeal to you, consider putting them in your garage if it isnt visible from the street.

Whats The Difference Between Buying And Leasing

Theres a big difference between leasing and buying solar panels. Leasing solar panels is like renting them. Youll be paying a monthly cost to have them on your home without ever truly owning them.

Buying solar panels may often require a loan to which you will have a monthly payment, but that loan will eventually go away, and youll own the panels and all of the energy savings they bring. When speaking to a solar representative, talk through the benefits of both leasing and buying so that you can decide whats right for you.

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