Solar Panel Roofing Issues

It's important that solar panel roofing provides your photovoltaic (PV) panels with the best exposure angle to the sun. A southward facing roof is preferred in northern climates. However, installing PV panels on a roof raises concerns about what sort of damage (if any) the installation might do to the house's roof.


Installing PV Panels on a Roof

Sample Solar Panel MountSolar Panel Mount Securely Fastened to Sample Roof
(Source: ©Don Bell)

Let's examine some PV panel mounting facts so you'll know up front what you might be getting into when installing solar panel roofing.

Consider Your Roof Strength

It's the practice of many solar panel installers to fasten the panel mounts to the load-bearing beams (see above photo). This method of attachment is very secure and offers better load distribution than installing the mounts solely to the thin roof decking.

Installing Solar Panel MountsInstalling Solar Panel Mounts to Load-bearing Roof Beams
(Source: ©123rf.com/Elena Elisseeva)

Nowadays, most residential roofs are built to withstand at least eight to ten pounds per square foot of weight above and beyond the weight of the actual roofing materials. That's usually more than enough load-bearing capacity to accommodate installing a PV panel array complete with aluminum mounting rails.

Installing Solar Panel RoofingInstalling Solar Panel Roofing to Mounting Rails
(Source: ©123rf.com/Elena Elisseeva)

However, no two houses are the same age or construction, each is unique and should be considered a unique installation.

Your local building inspector or a professional solar installer should be able to offer an accurate assessment of your roof's capacity to bear the total weight of your PV panel system.

Consider Your Roof Condition

Photovoltaic roof installations have been popular for over thirty years, so professional solar installers will know the best methods to ensure stability while avoiding any damage to the roof of your house.

Replacing Roof Shingles on HouseReplacing Roof Shingles before Installing Solar Panels
(Source: ©123rf.com/Ernest Prim)

However, it's important to consider the age and condition of your current roof before you schedule your solar installation. Since panel mounts will need to be installed on top of the roofing material, these mounts would need to be removed and reinstalled whenever you decide to repair or replace your roofing material.

Therefore, if your shingles are approaching the end of their useful life and you plan on having to replace them within the next five to ten years, consider replacing your roof before installing PV panels. That way you can avoid the extra expense of solar panel removal and reinstallation later on.

Consider Solar Panel Ground Installation

If you are at all concerned about installing PV panels on your roof, you might consider mounting them on the ground. The same criteria apply to choosing a location for your panels whether on the ground or on the roof.

For instance, the location you choose must have an unobstructed view of the sun for the PV panels to receive the maximum amount of sunlight during the day to produce the electricity that your home requires. There must be no buildings or trees or other obstacles blocking the solar ground installation from the sun's rays.

If you have an open location on your property that's nearby your house, a ground installation can offer the best alternative to solar panel roofing. It allows easy snow removal and cleaning, and you'll never have to worry about the future cost of having to remove panels for shingle replacement.

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