If you’ve been searching for the answer to, “Is my roof suitable for solar panels,” the good news is that the vast majority of residential roofs can easily manage solar panels, providing your home with an affordable, eco-friendly source of power. While only a roofer or solar panel installer can note if your house is a good candidate for solar in particular, along with any changes or upgrades needed to support solar, note a few quick signs that your roof is suitable for these panels:
As there is no one type of roof that is best for solar, and most residential roofs are suitable for at least a few solar panels, you might consider some added details about solar roof panels in general. You can also talk to a roofing contractor near you about upgrades and repairs needed to support solar panels.
A homeowner would also do well to consider how they might keep their roof in good repair so it can support solar panels, and what they need to do to protect those panels after installation. This will ensure your house is a good candidate for solar panels and that you can enjoy all the affordable, clean energy you need for yourself and your family!
Before you decide that your home’s roof is not right for solar, or start budgeting for solar panels, check out 10 expert signs that your roof is suitable for solar panels.
Understanding how roof solar panels work can tell you if your house is a good candidate for solar and why it might need some basic roofing repairs before panel installation. You can then also better determine how much solar you might put on your roof and how much power you can receive from those panels.
Solar panels are made from what are called photovoltaic or PV cells. These cells sit between layers of a special film or protective material and collect electrical currents along semiconductors, one positive and one negative, from solar power. When sunlight hits those semiconductors, electrons “come loose” from atoms in those cells; those cells then get set into motion, creating that electrical current.
The more sunlight collected by your solar panels, the more electrical current produced. This electricity is called direct current or DC power; however, home appliances run on alternating current, or AC power! So that this power collected by the sun is usable, it is then run through what’s called an inverter which then inverts the DC current into an AC current.
In times past, this AC current was collected in large batteries connected to your home’s power supply, so that your power usage would deplete energy in those batteries before using electricity from your city or county utility. Those solar panels would recharge the batteries as long as they collected and inverted sunlight.
Today, however, solar panels are typically connected to your local power company, and your home is outfitted with what’s called net metering. This meter tracks how much power you draw from the local utility company and how much solar power you send back to that company.
Now that you know a bit more about how a solar power system works, you might better understand if your roof is suitable for solar panels. Since more sunlight and more panels equal more electrical current, the best roof for solar power is one that can collect the most amount of sunlight throughout the day! While solar panels still collect power on cloudy days or when obstructed by dormers and trees, lots of direct sunlight means more power collected.
The wiring needed for solar panels is also durable and meant to withstand harsh weather conditions, but a crumbly roof provides a poor foundation for both the panels and their attached wiring. Damaged shingles and poor-quality gutters that you neglect throughout the year allow for water buildup on the roof and the risk of panel and wiring damage.
While some roofs aren’t the best candidate for solar panels, most residential roofs have the space and capacity to accommodate several solar panels and provide adequate solar power amounts. Solar panels also typically need nothing more than an occasional brushing off throughout the year, to keep their face clean and free of dust and debris.
Note, too, that solar panels can be affixed to just about any roofing material, including clay tiles, metal, fiber cement, and slate, as well as standard asphalt shingles. These panels might connect and be wired in the trenches or areas that sit flat against the roof, and holes might be drilled through metal roofing panels, slate tiles, and other materials for needed wiring and connectors.
Keeping your roof clean and in good condition also helps ensure a positive space for solar panels. Bubbling, curling, and lifting shingles indicate damage and potentially algae growth under those shingles; timely roof repairs protects your home and protects solar panels from damage. A crumbling roof can also mean water damage around solar panel wiring; roof decking repairs protects that wiring while keeping shingles and tiles in place.
Small roofs without much sun exposure might not offer space needed to produce the solar power that would make your investment in new panels worth their cost. Also, a damaged roof or one in poor condition can mean damaged panels and wiring; in some cases, a solar panel installer might not even be able to install the panels. However, proper roof repairs and maintenance can mean a solid foundation for new solar panels.
Because you want a roof in good condition under those new panels, ensure you’ve had a full roof inspection and all necessary repairs; you might also pressure wash the roof, to remove as much dirt, airborne soot, and storm debris as possible.
If your roof is suitable for solar panels, your excess solar typically goes to the power company; in most cases you’ll get a credit for your power consumption and not a check from the utility company. If you’re concerned with how your solar panels will affect your power costs, check with your local utility company or solar panel installer.