If you're considering going solar, your roof is definitely your top priority. Rooftop solar installations are fairly common since they are often less expensive than ground-mounted systems and make the most of the available space on your property. However, whether your roof is suitable for solar will depend on several criteria, with the material being one of the most essential. Solar energy systems typically have a lifespan of 25 to 30 years or more, so your roof must be durable enough to support the system. This article will discuss the optimal roofing materials for solar panels.
The best material for solar panels
Numerous roofing materials are compatible with solar panels. Still, ultimately, the ideal roofing material will depend on your specific circumstances, including your budget for roofing, where you reside, your aesthetic preferences, and the cost of your solar energy system. Here is a comparison of the superior solar roof materials:
1. Asphalt roofing
Asphalt shingles are by far the most popular roofing material, and for good reason: they are inexpensive, long-lasting, and flexible. Depending on the quality of the shingles and where you reside, asphalt roofs typically last from 12 to 30 years. Solar panels should be installed on roofs with asphalt shingles of the highest quality, as you do not want your system to outlast your roof. Due to their abundance, every respectable installer should feel comfortable installing a solar energy system on an asphalt roof. Your contractor will drill studs into your asphalt roof and install solar panel mounts in those areas if you have an asphalt roof. So that your roof does not leak, your roofer will fill the space between the studs and shingles and cover it with flashing, a metal plate designed to prevent water infiltration.
2. Metal Roofing
If you have a metal roof, you are ideal for solar energy! Metal roofs normally last forty to seventy-five years or more, are non-combustible, and can be energy efficient - a light-colored metal roof will reflect light and heat, keeping your home cool. However, they are rather costly to install, and this high initial cost may discourage individuals from selecting metal as a roofing material. Installing solar panels on a metal roof involves a somewhat different skill set and racking equipment, so you should select an installer with experience working with metal roofs. However, if your metal roof has standing seams, your installer can attach the solar panels directly to the seams, avoiding the need to drill holes and reducing labor costs!
3. Tiled roofing
Due to their endurance, tiled roofs are especially frequent in regions with hot weather or close to the coast. These roofs can survive for more than a century, so you can rest assured that your tile roof will outlive your solar system (assuming it was installed within the last 50 years or so). However, they are more expensive than asphalt roofs (though generally less expensive than metal roofs) and might complicate solar installation. Although installing solar panels on a tile roof is possible, you should anticipate increased labor costs because your installer will likely need to remove tiles and replace them with a mounting foot and flashing due to the tiles' fragility. Solar installation on tile roofs is not a talent possessed by all installers; therefore, you should confirm that your installer is comfortable dealing with this material.
4. Tar and gravel roofing
Solar works well with asphalt and gravel roofs since they are durable and energy efficient (gravel reflects sunlight). They normally endure between 20 and 30 years and are simple to patch or restore if damage occurs. However, if you have a tar-and-gravel roof, your roof is likely rather flat; therefore, you will need additional gear to guarantee that your solar panels are installed at the optimal angle. This additional hardware may increase installation costs, but it enables you to ensure your solar energy system's ideal orientation and tilt, which could result in larger long-term savings.
Do you need a new roof to install solar panels?
In many cases, you will need to replace your roof before installing solar panels, but this ultimately relies on the age and composition of your roof. If you have a metal or tile roof, you may not need to replace it to install solar panels. However, if your roof is composed of asphalt shingles or tar and gravel, it is generally a good idea to replace it before installing solar panels. If your roof material is incompatible with solar, such as shake roofing, you need to replace it with a suitable material. If your roof is five to ten years from needing replacement, you will likely need to replace it to install solar panels.
Is your roof solar-friendly?
Whether or not your roof is suitable for solar depends on several factors beyond its composition. Even if you don't need a perfect roof for a solar energy system to be worthwhile, you'll need to know your roof's angle, orientation, and size to determine if you're a good candidate.
Optimum roof angle for solar panels
The optimal angle for solar panels is approximately 30 degrees. However, this will vary significantly based on your location, as you will want your solar energy system to face the sun as directly as possible. Consequently, the optimal angle is typically near the latitude of your residence, which should be between 30 and 45 degrees.
Optimal placement of solar panels on the roof
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, the optimal orientation for your solar panels is south; in the Southern Hemisphere, it is worth it. A solar energy system will receive the greatest direct sunshine on a south-facing roof. However, if your roof faces east or west, you will likely still create sufficient savings to make solar energy worthwhile.
Ideal roof dimensions for solar panels
Typically, you'll need 24 square feet of roof space per solar panel (enough for the solar panel plus approximately 25 percent extra space), and the average home requires between 20 and 24 solar panels to balance power expenditures with solar. Consequently, the optimal roof area for solar panels is often between 480 and 580 square feet, but this will depend on your household's energy use and the efficiency of your solar system.