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HomeFactsWhat Side Of The Roof Do Solar Panels Go On

What Side Of The Roof Do Solar Panels Go On

Why Pair Your Solar Panel & Roofing Projects

Installation of Go Power RV roof mounted solar PV panels on a Jayco Northpoint 5th wheel

Removing and reinstalling solar panels is expensive. So is finding you have roof leaks under your solar panels that are unreachable without removing the panels. Removing and reinstalling solar panels for roof replacement will cost between $1000 and $6500. Diagnosing and fixing a roof leak can cost anywhere from $150-$2,500.

Prepping your roof for a solar installation? Want to tackle both projects together? Give us a call for a free inspection and estimate!

Inclement Weather & Storm Damage

Quality solar panels are meant to withstand hail and heavy storms. While a quality shingle installed correctly is also meant to withstand storms, it can still sustain minor damage. When solar panels cover a large portion of your roof, they act as a protective umbrella over that area from wind and hail damage.

Conventional Alternatives To Solar Shingles

If aesthetics is what draws you towards shingles, well, a few different choices can give the conventional solar panels a better look. You can opt for standard solar panels that are sleeker and dont stand out too much.

The plus point of doing this is that since the product is more mainstream, youll have a lot of options to choose from.

Here are some of the factors that you may want to look into to make your panels look more aesthetic:

  • Color of the back sheet, the layer of the silicon cells
  • Check to see if polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon is used
  • Color of the frame, or if the panels are frameless

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What Type Of Roofs Are Best For Solar Panels

Sometimes, individuals focus on the cost of solar panels rather than the installation site when investing in clean energy. Although most roofs can sustain a renewable energy system, some are better than others.

As the prices of solar power systems decrease and more homes install panels, its vital to evaluate the structure of the roof to optimize green energy production.

If you are interested in investing in a PV system, you can start by evaluating the compatibility of your roof. Here are the factors you must understand before getting started.

How To Find The Best Method Of Installation

Solar panels

Youll install solar panels on your roof rafters. When you install panels vertically, they use fewer roof rafters to mount.

This cuts down on the roof space covered with solar panels. It also decreases the cost of installation.

Horizontal panels take up more space, so youll most likely need to make three rows of four panels to get 12 on your roof.

It also takes more rafters, rows, and bolts to install horizontal solar panels. Overall, that orientation can cost you more money, even if you still have the space for the same amount of panels that produce the same amount of power.

Its possible to maintain a longer row of solar panels when you install them vertically across your roof. So not only are you able to fit more into place, youre not adding as many steel bolts into your roof rafters.

Still, you can install solar panels securely.

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Does My House Have To Face South For Solar To Work

The short answer is no. We can install panels on South, East, or West facing roofs. North is the only direction that we dont want to put panels on. Why is that?

Solar panels convert light into DC electricity. The sun doesnt have to be beaming directly on the panels at the perfect angle to work. Panels will even produce some electricity on cloudy days when you dont see an ounce of sunshine.

However, the more direct the sunlight is on the panels, the more electricity theyll produce. This means that placing your panels at the ideal angle will increase the amount of your electric bill that is offset.

What If Your Roof Doesn’t Face South

Barring a couple of exceptions outlined above, your rooftop solar energy system should ideally be facing south for maximum efficiency. Of course, this isnt always possible: many homeowners dont have roofs that face in that direction!

The good news is that this is not a dealbreaker. There are plenty of homeowners without south-facing roofs, who have solar panels installed and are enjoying huge savings on their electric bills.

Here are some workarounds for homeowners who dont have south-facing roofs:

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Solar Panels Interrupt The Flow Of Rainwater

I have seen a couple of houses with solar panels installed on them to such an extent that the roof was no longer visible. Generally speaking the more surface area the solar panels have the more electricity they can make, the problem is that this way most of the rainwater will not drop on the shingles but on the solar panels themselves. Sometimes the solar panels are placed in such a way that they hang over the gutters, and once it rains the water will just pour down on the walls of the house. If you want to take a look at the best places to live off the grid in the world then check out my recent article Best places to live off the grid in the world .

Roof Steepness Matters Too

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Though less impactful than the roof orientation, the angle of solar panels also affects production. The goal is to maximize sunlight that hits the panels at a perpendicular angle. If the panels are to be mounted flush with the roof, then the steepness, called roof pitch, decides the angle of the solar panels.

The ideal angle for south-facing panels here in the U.S. is between 30 and 40 degrees . The systems latitude will determine what the exact best angle is for solar production. Steeper angles have the added benefit of helping with maintenance, as snow and debris tend to slide right off.

East- and west-facing panels generate more energy when mounted flatter than 30 degrees. For example, east or west-facing solar panels that are at a 15-degree tilt trail the production of south-facing panels by 15% instead of 20% when at a 30-degree tilt.

Sub-optimal roof pitch can be corrected by constructing a mounting system that angles the panels to a preferred tilt, but this typically comes at a premium. Homes with flat roof are often able to utilize ballast-mounted systems, which have the added benefit of not requiring roof penetrations or additional racking.

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Will Solar Companies Replace Your Roof

Hunting for a roofing company and a separate company for solar panel installation is just going to be additional work.

Well let you in on a little secret. You can save yourself from putting in the extra effort by simply going for a company that does both. Yes, you read that right. Some companies offer services that install solar panels and replace roofs.

A free roof replacement with solar panels would be a dream come true, this isnt possible in most cases. However, getting the same company to do both tasks does lower the costs.

For instance, Semper Solaris offers roof replacements along with solar installation with significant cost savings. They provide clients with financing options to make the installation of solar panels on a flat roof more affordable.

Can You Put Solar Panels On An East

East-facing roofs are a great solution for those who arent able to place their solar panels facing south.

While east-facing is the second-best orientation, its still far more efficient than west or north-facing and can produce 80% of what a south-facing system would generate in an area with optimal sunlight conditions like Southern California.

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The Condition Of Your Roof

Does your roof need to be replaced just because youre switching to solar? Well, not really. But if you look at it more logically, its better to assess the condition of your roof before you make any decisions.

Itll save you a whole lot of trouble and money.

As long as there is enough sunlight and space, solar panels can be installed on almost any roof. The average solar panel weighs around 40 lbs.

However, if your roof is too weak or damaged, it may end up slumping under the weight of the panels.

Your roof may seem like just a collection of shingles and tiles, but the structure is way more complicated than that. Your roof is made up of multiple layers that all help insulate and cover your house.

Generally, a typical roof is made of:

  • Roof truss
  • Shingles or tiles
  • Wooden frame

If any of these components are damaged, it will affect the whole structure of your roof. So, how does one know if the roof is damaged?

The signs are all there on your roof, you just need to look for them.

Do You Have To Have A South Facing Roof To Have Solar Panels

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In the UK, South facing panels will generate more than other orientations. Solar panels perform at their best when the sun is shining straight on to the panels. When the sun shines onto the surface at an angle, the panel will still generate electricity but it will be less effective. The sun moves from East to West during the day and is higher or lower in the sky depending on the season . This means that for most roof mounted systems the sun will be at an angle for the vast majority of the time. The optimum placement to maximise generation is to face the panels South but that might not be possible for your property.

We ran a few calculations and found that SE and SW facing placements can expect to generate around 94% of the electricity a South facing install would. Thats much better than most people would guess and even an East / West facing roof can generate around 80% of the maximum. We assumed a 40° elevation for the roof. At lower pitches, say 30°, the East / West facing panels perform slightly closer to South. At higher pitches, the difference increases.

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Introducing Opportunities For Leaks

If there is one thing that give me pause about a roof-mounted installation, it is the idea of drilling holes in my roof. Certainly, there have been thousands of successful installations without issues with leaking, but unless you plan to regularly go into the attic and verify that those holes where the solar panels are screwed into the roof are remaining leak-proof, you may want to consider other options.

The cost of replacing a water-damaged roof, not to mention the damage to the sheetrock and who knows what else that can occur from even a small leak over time is a risk. Whether its worth the risk or not is a decision you will have to make but you owe it to yourself to at least consider this potential complication from an install.

Why More Solar Panels Should Be Facing West Not South

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By Matthew L. Wald

For years, homeowners who bought solar panels were advised to mount them on the roof facing south. That captures the most solar energy over the course of the day, which benefits the homeowner, but does so at hours that are not so helpful for the utility and the grid as a whole.

Mount them to catch the sunlight from the west in the afternoon, and the panels production over all would fall, but it would come at hours when the electricity was more valuable.

But that idea is slow to take hold. A new study of 110,000 California houses with rooftop solar systems confirmed that a vast majority of the panels were pointed south because most of the panel owners were paid by the number of kilowatt-hours the panels produced. Pointing them southward maximizes production over all, but peak production comes at midday, not in late afternoon, when it would be more helpful.

In late afternoon, homeowners are more likely to watch TV, turn on the lights or run the dishwasher. Electricity prices are higher at that period of peak demand. The predominance of south-facing panels may reflect a severe misalignment in energy supply and demand, said the authors of the study, Barry Fischer and Ben Harack. They work for Opower, a company that provides software that electric companies can use to manage their relationships with their customers.

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Explained: Impact Of Direction On Solar Panel Output

Turning solar panels away from true south will generally result in output losses of less than 30%, but in some extreme cases losses of close to 60% may be seen.

The precise drop in energy production is determined by three factors:

  • Distance from south: The number of degrees the panels are turned away from true south
  • Your latitude: How far north your home is located
  • The pitch of your roof: This determines the angle solar panels installed on there

Distance from south

To state the obvious, the greater the turn away from south, the bigger the loss in energy production. So a turn to the south-west will see a small drop, turning west will see a moderate drop, and turning north will see the biggest drop.


When it comes to latitude, the further north you are, the bigger the fall in energy production when you turn away from south. All else equal, solar panels in Seattle, WA will see a much bigger output drop in non-south alignment than a home in Miami, FL.

Roof pitch

As for roof pitch, the steeper your roof, the greater the output drop for non-south facing solar panels. For instance, in Charlotte, NC a roof with a pitch of 2/12 would see a 16% loss by turning their solar panels from south to north a roof in the same location with a steeper pitch – 4/12 – would see a much larger drop of 29%.

What Angle Should Solar Panels Be At

Installing Solar Panels On The Roof

There is virtually no debate regarding the most effective direction of solar panels but in terms of the correct angle for the effectiveness of panels, there is far less in the way of a one-size-fits-all solution.

If you were living directly on the equator this would be simple, as a horizontal panel at 90 degrees would have the sun directly above at all times. However, with your solar panel in the UK, the sun is at a different angle relative to the Earth and this changes throughout the year. Ultimately, this means choosing an angle that is going to give you the best possible benefit.

In fact, this will depend on the specific of your home and the angle of your roof. It is best to have your panel pointing directly at the sun in the middle of the day during the summer, so your panel should be set up to achieve this. However, you should be aware that in doing so you will make your panels slightly less effective during winter.

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Can My Roof Support The Weight Of Solar Panels

Other than roof orientation and pitch, structural capacity is another important factor to consider before installing solar panels.

  • The exact weight will depend on the specific brand and model, but residential solar panels normally weigh between 40 and 50 pounds.
  • For a 6kW system with 18 solar panels, you would be adding around 720 900 pounds of weight to your roof plus the weight of mounting equipment.

A qualified solar provider will conduct a structural assessment of your roof before proceeding with the installation. If you need a roof upgrade before installing solar panels, they will make it clear right away.

Regardless of the material used, if your roof is very old you should consider a replacement before installing a solar power system. Keep in mind that solar panels come with manufacturer warranties of up to 25-30 years, but they are subject to several conditions. If solar panels are installed on a roof near the end of its service life, and you must remove them for a roof replacement, the warranty may be voided.

How Ground Mounts Make Solar A Viable Option For Some

If a roof doesnt have enough unshaded space or pitch facing the right direction, it may not work for solar. Solar panels work best when they face south, but east and west-facing solar panels can still produce significant amounts. Homeowners with space for a ground mount can generate more solar power because they dont have these limiting factors.

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Maintenance Can Be Challenging

From time to time, solar panels may need to be cleaned off, following a wind storm where leaves and other debris have settled or just due to mildew or other buildup depending on the climate.

Getting onto your roof and crawling around to perform routine maintenance is both risky to your health and a general

American Home Shield provides warranty coverage for your essential home appliances and systems. Compare all plans.

My name is Paul and I am a bit of a fanatic when it comes to making sure my home is energy efficient.

The goal of this website is to share with you all of the helpful tips and solutions that I have found so that you can ensure an energy efficient home for you and your family.

How Solar Panels Work

Solar Roof Shingles vs. Solar Panels

Before we answer any questions first we need to know how solar panels work, solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells, also called solar cells.

These cells absorb energy from the sun and convert it into electricity. This is possible because each cell has a pair of electrodes on either side with semiconductor material placed in between them.

When sunlight hits this material, some of its photons or packets of light energy knock electrons loose from their atoms, allowing the cell to generate an electric current.

Additionally, the cells are wired together and mounted on a flat surface such as your roof.

A solar panel converts about 15 percent of incoming sunlight into electricity this is referred to as its efficiency rating.

The more efficient the solar panels, the less space they take up and the more power they can generate.

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