Oct 9, 2020

Is Your Roof Compatible with Solar Panels?

Have you ever noticed the variation in the placement of solar panels on the houses in your neighborhood? Well, we’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to do with customer preference, HOA guidelines, or which company installed them. The installation of solar panels is very specific and deliberate, and in fact, comes down to a science. Why? To make sure they are maximizing their solar energy production. 

Solar Panels and Roof Direction

Depending on the orientation of the roof, panels will either be facing south, east, or west, with the most ideal direction being south (more specifically true south), as panels receive the most direct sunlight this way, therefore being the most effective position. Although east and west-facing panels don’t produce the same amount of energy as south-facing ones, they still produce enough energy to help you save on your electric bill, as well as reduce your carbon footprint.

Angle of Solar Panels

Although it may seem trivial, the angles at which solar panels are tilted are just as important to measure as other variables in the installation process, as it plays a part in energy production efficiency as well. Geographical latitude is used when determining which angle to tilt your PV panels for optimal energy production. For ideal production, the system should be tilted at an angle equal to the latitude of where they are being installed. Although ideal, this method may not always be the case, in which angles between 30 to 45 degrees will work as well.

Solar Panel and Roof Shape and Size 

The size and shape of your roof can affect its compatibility with solar panels. Small roofs, or roofs with chimneys or skylights, aren’t the best candidates for installing a roof-top solar energy system being that they take up too much space or just aren’t big enough. You will typically need around 100 square feet of space for every kilowatt of panel you want installed. On average, you can expect a residential solar system to take up 300 – 500 square feet of roof space. 

Roofing Material Compatibility with Solar Panels

Aside from the shape and size, the composition of your roof can also affect the compatibility. Most roofing materials such as asphalt shingles, concrete tiles, and slate tiles, which are all compatible with solar panels. On the other hand, if your roof is made of Spanish tiles or wood shingles, it isn’t the best candidate. Although it isn’t impossible to install panels on these types of roofs, for difficulty reasons many companies may either choose to not work with you or charge more.

Other Variables Impacting Solar Panels

Along with all the above, another important factor that is sometimes less thought of is the amount of shade your roof receives. In order to maximize production and savings, your solar energy system needs to get as much sunlight as possible. If you live in an area that is often cloudy and overcast, your panels will not perform as well. This also goes if you have trees or buildings that are constantly blocking the sun and casting shade on your roof. 

Dust and dirt build-up can also impact the efficiency of your system, something to keep in mind if you live in an area that is prone to dust storms. If it snows where you live, luckily you don’t have to worry about it impacting your system too much. As long as the snowfall isn’t too heavy, the snow will melt or slide off the angled panels. 

As long as your house is compatible with a solar energy system, you don’t have to live in a sunny state to reap the benefits and savings they bring. Interested in seeing if you’re a good candidate? Contact Direct Solar of America to find out!

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