Solar works well on a roof, but not all roofs work well for solar. Here are a few factors you may want to consider when evaluating your roof for solar.
1. Age of your roof
Has it been more than 20 years since anyone has tended to your roof? If so, a specialist should take a quick look at your roof. Since solar panels have a long lifespan, make sure you make any home improvements on your roof before the actual installation.
2. Available space
Solar panels typically take about 1 square foot of space for every 10 watts produced. This means that if you want 3,000 watts produced by your panels, you’ll need about 300 square feet of open space on your roof. Make sure you have enough space for the amount of solar power you want to generate. You don’t have to plan to offset all your electricity usage. Even with a smaller system, you can substantially lower your utility bill.
3. Direction of your Roof
The most effective solar panels are on roofs that face south in the Northern Hemisphere, that way the solar panels get maximum exposure to sunlight. Houses that face east or west can still generate solar power and an installer will alert you if your house fits in this category.
4. Type of Roof
Installers have been doing solar for many years and are well educated in the different types of roof that are supportive of solar. The easiest type of roof for installers to work on is a composite shingle roof and the most difficult ones are wood-shake roofs. In general, most roofs can hold solar panels but there may be added fees for more equipment and steep angled roofs.
5. Angle of Roof
The angle of your roof can make a difference in your solar system’s price. For example, the steeper your roof is the harder it is for installers to navigate and install the panels. Installers may add on extra charges if your roof is incredibly steep and hard to work on, but you will still get solar panels. Flat roofs require more equipment because of the reverse tilt that goes on under the brackets to tilt the panels to make sure as much sun hits them as possible.
Making sure there are no objects blocking the sun from hitting the solar panels is very important. If surrounding trees are proving to create shade, you do have some options, so don’t worry.
If your home doesn’t meet the grade for each of these 6 factors, don’t fret. There are often ways to work with less-than-ideal roofs. It’s best to work with a professional to evaluate your home for solar. SunRun home solar offers free solar consultations and quotes so sign up today to learn if solar is right for your home.
Nami Sung is a solar energy professional currently employed at SunRun, a solar financing company. She enjoys writing about clean, renewable energy and is excited to contribute her first post to Solar Power Ninjas. You can read her articles on Renewable Energy World and follow her on Twitter (@sunrun_nami).