Solar energy is clean, renewable, and abundant. Unlike fossil fuels—or other renewable sources such as wind, geothermal energy, and hydroelectricity—solar energy can be harnessed on the level of the residential home, doing away with the need for big power plants to generate, process, and distribute energy. In fact, residential-use solar panels form the majority of solar installations in the US.
While ground-mounted installations are available, most homeowners prefer rooftop solar panels for cost and space efficiency. If you are researching the details of installing solar panels, this article will help you answer the question: “Can I put a solar panel on my roof?”
6 Things You Should Consider for Installation of Rooftop Solar Panels
Here are six things that most solar power installers will look at to determine if your home is suitable for rooftop solar panels.
1. Size and Shape
The more panels you can fit on your roof, the more electricity you will be able to harness and store on your solar power generator. A good rule of thumb is that you will need about 100 square feet of space for every kilowatt of panels you want to use. In most cases, it takes an average of 500 square feet of space to install enough rooftop solar panels that can generate enough power for a home. If your roof has fixtures such as skylights or chimneys, you can ask your solar power provider to design a layout around these obstructions.
2. Roof Orientation
Solar power favors south-facing roofs since they generally get the most sunlight on any given day. However, homes with either east-facing or west-facing roofs will still be able to produce enough energy to reduce your dependence on fossil fuels, while also cutting down on your energy bills.
3. Pitch Angle
Solar panels are easiest to install on roofs with a pitch angle between 15 and 40 degrees. If your roof is flat, you can use mounting mechanisms that will allow you to change the angle of your rooftop solar panels.
Since photovoltaic (solar) panels need to get hit by direct sunlight to produce energy, it makes sense to get rid of or work around any shade that may reduce or block the sunlight. Most of the time, the shade comes from nearby trees or large buildings.
If the shade is caused by a tree, you can have it trimmed to make way for more sunlight to reach your panels, or you can just move your panels in a different spot. If a large building casts its shadow on your roof, it may be best to consider ground-mounted panels on a less obstructed area rather than rooftop solar panels.
5. Roof Age And Condition
While solar panels in itself are generally not very heavy, it’s still best to ensure that your roof is stable enough to support them. Given that solar panels can last up to 25 years, it’s worthwhile to ensure that your roof will not need any repair or replacement, as the reinstallation costs can be quite hefty.
6. Roof Material
Solar panels are generally compatible with most of the common types of roofing materials—but have particular trouble with being installed on slate, cedar, and clay tile roofs. Installing solar panels on these materials are a bit more challenging since they are prone to damage during installation, but not entirely impossible.
With a smart battery storage system and a couple of photovoltaic panels, you are on your way to reducing your carbon footprint. Given enough power, you can even connect your residential solar system to the grid and sell electricity with net metering. With large scale commercial solar systems still being a few generations away, now is a good time to take advantage of solar energy with rooftop solar panels.