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10 Expert Signs Your Roof is Suitable for Solar Panels

September 19, 2020

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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:

10 Signs your Roof is Suitable for Solar Panels:

  1. Lots of south-facing roof surfaces
  2. Adequate sun exposure
  3. Lack of obstructions
  4. No shade trees crowding the roof
  5. The roof is set at the right angle for panel installation
  6. The roof is in good condition
  7. A large roof face
  8. A sunny climate or partially sunny
  9. Adequate gutters
  10. Roof warranties allow solar 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.

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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!

Is My Roof Suitable for Solar Panels?

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.

  • In the northern hemisphere, the most sun exposure is from the south. If your home’s roof has a large south-facing surface, you might find it enjoys enough sun exposure for solar panels.
  • No matter the largest section of your home’s roof, the more sun exposure it receives, the more solar energy collected by those panels. In areas with poor-quality outdoor air, heavy fog, and other such concerns, even a southern-facing roof might not receive enough sunlight to produce adequate solar power.
  • If your home’s roof is blocked by large trees or buildings nearby, or you live in a crowded neighborhood where other roofs cast shadows on your home, your panels might not receive enough sunlight to operate as expected.
  • Note obstructions around your home’s roof such as dormers, added roof vents, and skylights. These might get in the way of the panels you prefer; the fewer obstructions, the better your home’s suitability for solar panels!
  • Mature shade trees add beauty to your yard but if they hang over the home’s roof, they might block sunlight. Mature trees also drop lots of leaves, twigs, sap, moss, and other debris on panels; while solar panels are typically very strong against breakage, that debris obscures needed sunlight!
  • An overly steeped roof means that your solar panels will sit at a very steep angle; once the sun moves over them, they might not collect as much sunlight. A flatter roof allows for panels to sit flat and, in turn, receive more sunlight throughout the day.
  • A roof must be in good condition to support panels; this means no bubbling, cracked, or torn tiles and shingles, and with flashing in good condition for proper drainage.
  • While solar panels come in different sizes, the larger your home’s roof face, the larger the panels it will support and the more solar power you will enjoy!
  • Solar panels absorb sunlight even on most cloudy days; however, the sunnier the climate, the more sunlight those panels absorb.
  • Gutters in good condition allow rainwater and melting snow and ice to run toward nearby downspouts, away from the roof. Your roof gutters should be sized adequately and maintained regularly to protect the roof and your new solar panels!
  • Note if any existing roof warranties allow solar panel installation over new shingles, tiles, and other such materials.

Understanding How Solar Panels & Your Roof Work Together

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.

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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.

What Type of Roof is Best for Solar?

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.

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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.

Related Questions

Is a roof ever not suitable for solar panels?

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.

When is the best time to get roof 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.

Do you get paid from your power company for solar power?

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.


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