Roofing Materials

Best Roof For Solar Panels

Stephen Vernon
April 3, 2023

When is Your Roof Ready for Solar?

Switching to solar energy can be a transformative decision for homeowners seeking eco-friendly and cost-effective energy solutions. However, before making the leap to solar panels, it's crucial to ensure that your roof is adequately prepared to accommodate this sustainable technology. Your roof's readiness for solar is a critical factor that can impact the efficiency, longevity, and overall success of your solar investment. In this post, we will explore the key considerations and indicators that determine whether your roof is ready to harness the power of the sun and embrace a greener future with solar energy.

Common Questions About Roofing and Solar Panels

When it comes to the intersection of roofing and solar panels, several common questions arise. One of the most frequent inquiries is whether solar panels can be installed on any type of roof. Additionally, many homeowners wonder about the compatibility of solar panels with shingle roofs specifically. Another popular query revolves around the suitability of metal roofs for solar panel installations. Furthermore, individuals often seek guidance on determining the best type of roof for maximizing the benefits of solar panels. Lastly, there is a quest for understanding the optimal roof design that complements solar panel systems. This post aims to address these questions and provide insights into the best roofing for solar panel installations.

In previous blog posts, we’ve talked about different types of solar options that could be installed on a roof. This post mentioned solar panels, solar shingles, solar tiles, and solar skins. Solar panels are popping up throughout neighborhoods in Central Virginia, causing homeowners to ask if solar panels are safe for roofs and if their roof is ready for solar. They are generally considered safe for your roof, but it does help to understand precisely what the process entails and know what to be aware of during the installation.

Solar and Roof Inspections

The first check box to complete when asking when your roof is ready for solar would be to get a roof inspection.  Your home's first line of defense against inclement weather getting into your home is your roof! When considering solar panel installation, you consider adding penetrations into your roof—increasing the chance of weather getting into your home.  Owen’s Corning recommends asking the question how old is your roof? A roof inspection can determine the approximate age of your roof if you don’t know. They recommend replacing a roof older than ten years old before installing solar panels on your roof. This answers the question if solar panels can go on any roof. It is not advisable to install it on any roof over ten years old.  Homeowners must inspect their roofs to spare themselves the headache of finding severe damage later.

Also, it is important to check for licensing. When installing solar panels on your roof, it is essential to ensure that the company installing them is licensed and certified. Solar panels don’t damage your roof when they are correctly installed, and using a licensed and certified roofing contractor is the best way to ensure that they are installed correctly.

Shingle Roofs and Solar Panels

Are solar panels on shingle roofs okay? Solar panels on shingle roofs are wonderful as long as the roof is in good condition and under ten years old.  Asphalt shingle roofs should last 20-30 years with correct maintenance. If your shingle roof is older than that and you’re considering putting solar panels on your roof, then you should consider a roof replacement first.  Consider this, your roof is already over half its lifespan, and you’re considering putting on solar panels that generally come with a 25-year warranty. In another ten years, you may have to replace your roof because of the natural life span of a shingle roof. This incurs the cost of paying the solar company to come out and uninstall the solar panels and bars from your roof.  After replacing the roof, you must pay the solar company to return and reinstall the solar panels. This wouldn’t be great for the solar panels and would add extra out-of-pocket costs.  Check out this testimonial from one of our customers who had his roof replaced before installing solar panels!

Can You Put Solar Panels on a Metal Roof?

Absolutely! You can put solar panels on a metal roof. Metal roofs are actually highly compatible with solar panel installations, making them an excellent choice for homeowners considering solar energy. In fact, metal roofs are often recommended by both roofing contractors and solar installers for their exceptional qualities.

Solar Panels on Metal Roof
Solar Panels on a Metal Roof

Metal roofing makes for a great option when considering solar panel installation.

Especially if you have a standing seam metal roof. A standing seam metal roof allows the solar bars to attach to the metal roof's seams instead of penetrating the roof.  

This special clamp is known as an S-5 clamp.  Some solar installation processes may differ from those described above, so ask your solar representative how they may attach the solar to your metal roof.  

When it comes to corrugated metal, the solar panels will likely be installed with mounting brackets which will use fasteners that penetrate the corrugated metal panels.

What is the Best Roof for Solar Panels?

When it comes to finding the ideal roof for solar panels, there are a few options to consider. Generally, asphalt, metal, tile, and tar and gravel roofs are regarded as the best choices. The best roof for solar panels between shingles and metal, would be the standing seam metal roof as penetrations in your roof would be avoided. It’s always best to avoid penetrating the roofing material on your home. This helps avoid future leaking caused by the solar panels. Another advantage of metal roofs is their strength and durability, allowing them to support the weight of solar panels, mounting racks, and associated hardware with ease. This sturdiness eliminates concerns about the structural integrity of the roof and ensures a secure installation.

Metal roofs offer other benefits that make them an attractive option for solar panel placement. Their smooth surface provides a streamlined platform for the panels, optimizing the efficiency of sunlight absorption. Additionally, metal roofs are known for their longevity, which aligns well with the long-term nature of solar investments.

Therefore, if you're wondering whether you can put solar panels on a metal roof, the answer is a resounding yes. Metal roofs are highly compatible with solar installations and are often considered one of the best roofing materials for this purpose. By combining the durability of metal roofs with the energy-generating potential of solar panels, you can create a sustainable and efficient power system for your home.

best roofing on solar panels
South facing is the best because the solar panels receive the most direct sunlight.

What is the Best Roof Design for Solar Panels?

The best roofing design for solar panels is typically known that south-facing roofs allow for optimal solar performance. If your home is east-west facing, the solar panels can still operate efficiently but will have less optimal performance. Facing south maximizes sun exposure throughout the day. This orientation allows the panels to capture the most sunlight and generate more energy.

Secondly, the roof should have a pitch of around 30 degrees. This angle is considered optimal for solar panel installations as it strikes a balance between capturing sunlight efficiently and facilitating the self-cleaning process by allowing rainwater to wash away debris.

Lastly, the roof should provide ample space for the solar panel array. At a minimum, it is recommended to have a roof area of approximately 480 square feet to accommodate a sufficient number of panels for generating a significant amount of electricity.

By considering these factors, such as roofing material, orientation, pitch, and available space, you can determine the best roof for solar panels that will maximize energy production and make your solar investment more effective.

Why is South Facing Better?

On average, the sun shines over the equator most of the year. For people living in the United States, having a south-facing roof means that your solar panels will receive the most direct sunlight for most of the year. Your roof does not have to be south-facing for solar to make sense, but this would be the best roof design for solar.

What Should You Know About Solar Installation?

  • Ask about warranty information
  • Receive information on incentives for installing solar
  • How much will you save with solar
  • What warranty do they have with their washers for penetrations
  • How often will you have to clean the panels
  • Will your roof need strengthening
  • Are there other options besides drilling into your roof
  • One factor that discourages people from exploring solar panels is the idea of drilling holes into their roofs to hold them. This is an understandable concern, but it is essential to know that there are other options to achieve solar besides holes to attach racking, including solar roof tiles or solar shingles. Talk to your roofing contractor to find out your options.

Wrap Up on Roofing and Solar Panels

First, get a roof inspection to find out the condition and age of your roof. It’s best to replace the roof before solar installation if your shingle roof is older than ten years. A standing seam metal roof is the best for solar installation because you can avoid penetrations in your roof. A south-facing roof receives the most direct sunlight allowing for optimal solar energy performance from your solar panels. If you have any questions about roofing and solar panels in Virginia, don't hesitate to reach out to Cenvar Roofing near you. Our knowledgeable team is ready to assist you and provide answers to any inquiries you may have. Contact us today and let us address your roofing and solar panel concerns with expertise and personalized solutions.

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