Solar energy is on the rise. With more global awareness of environmental issues, people are increasingly seeking out ways to reduce their carbon footprint, make their homes more green, and lower the cost of electricity and utility bills along the way.
For those homeowners who do decide to install solar panels on their homes, there are several options for placement. Some homeowners who have plenty of space may want to install a system mounted on the ground. For the majority of people, however, embracing solar energy means installing solar panels on the roof. The question then becomes: which roof material is best for solar panel installations?
While most roof materials will work just fine for installing solar panels, some are better than others. In this article, we will take a look at the three best roof materials for solar panels on your home.
1. Asphalt or Composite Shingles
Solar panels are heavy, so when preparing your home for rooftop panels, you will want to make sure that you have a sturdy, durable roof material ready to support such a hefty amount of weight. Solar-friendly, flexible, and durable, asphalt or composite shingles are the best choice.
Composite shingles are made with either a fiberglass or cellulose mat, to which asphalt is added later in the process. Installing panels on these shingles is a simple process. First, you or a solar professional will drill studs into the roof. Then the mounts for the panels will be attached to these studs. You will then seal the empty area between the panel and the studs with flashings so that no rain will leak through your roof.
Composite or asphalt shingles are not only durable and flexible, and therefore up to the task of supporting your solar panels, but also inexpensive, making them the ideal choice for a solar-friendly roof building material. In fact, asphalt shingles are the most commonly used type of roof shingle in the country. Plus, they can be adapted to look like almost any material, so they are a good choice if you want a custom look for your roof.
A metal roof with standing seams is a great option for a solar panel-friendly roof. Since metal roofs are reflective, they will keep off excess sunshine, so anywhere those rays hit your roof that is not on the solar panels will be reflected away from your house. That should keep the inside of your home nice and cool, even in the summertime.
The standing seams in a metal roof make for a much more straightforward installation process. Solar professionals will not need to drill into your roof to attach brackets, so the cost of labor will be lower, which reduces the overall price of the installation process. Instead, the panels can simply be attached to the raised standing seams with a clamp.
One factor that may be important to consider, however, is that metal roofs can at times affect the local internet connectivity capabilities inside the house. So if yours is a household that relies heavily on surfing the web, you may want to choose a roofing material that is both solar-friendly and will not interfere with your strong internet signal.
Metal roofs are, however, a more sustainable, environmentally friendly option, since they are made of recycled materials that are durable enough to last for decades. With a metal roof, you can choose to install either thin-film or standard PV solar panels.
One of the best types of materials for installing solar panels, tiles made of concrete, clay, or slate are longer-lasting and somewhat more waterproof than other roof shingles. Some solar professionals shy away from installing panels on terra cotta, clay, or slate tile roofs because these tiles tend to be more fragile, leaving your roof more exposed to possible damage during the installation process. As a result, the installation process tends to be more expensive for roofs of these types.
The best solution for solar professionals installing panels on a roof made of clay or slate tiles is to first remove the tiles altogether so that the solar professional can install the solar panel mount directly onto your roof for suitable stability. It may be a good idea to replace the roof tiles that will sit directly underneath the panel mounts with asphalt or composite shingles, as they will be hidden from sight in any case. This will lessen the risk of the clay or slate tiles breaking during installation or during any future solar panel maintenance checks.
Brackets will need to be attached to the solar panel array, lifting the solar panels above the roof to catch the sun, which will be converted into usable electricity and energy. Spanish tile style roofs may require the panels to be raised up higher, which can sometimes make the cost of installation that much pricier. On the plus side, however, clay tile roofs can last for over a hundred years. They can often last through the most brutal of the elements, including high winds, frequent storms, hail, and fire. So investing in a tile roof is more of a lifetime investment. Once you have them, you will most likely not need to replace them for many, many years to come.
Before you install solar panels on any type of roofing material, a homeowner should schedule a roof inspection to evaluate the overall health of the existing roofing system. If your roof is within 5 years of reaching its expected lifespan, we recommend replacing the roof before installing solar panels. Considering that solar panels can last between 25-35 years, and navigating roof repairs around installed solar panels can be an added hassle, it may be worth the cost of a roof replacement.
Let The Sun Shine
Maybe you are a homeowner and your home already has a roof on which you are planning to install solar panels. Or perhaps you are in the process of building and designing a new solar-friendly home. Either way, there are plenty of factors to consider in terms of the best requirements for a solar panel-friendly roof.
Take into account the flatness or slope of the roof, the durability of the materials, and the size of your roof. Remember that the initial cost of installation for solar panels will be offset by the savings you will accrue on utility and electricity bills throughout the years to come.
If you’re interested in having a new roof installed or have questions about installing solar panels on your current roof material, contact the roofing experts at Signature Exteriors in Charlotte. We are one of the highest-rated roofing contractors in the Charlotte area and have been recognized through multiple certifications and awards for the outstanding work we constantly deliver.
We offer roofing services in Charlotte, Matthews, Waxhaw and the surrounding areas. We are happy to answer your questions online, over the phone at 704-729-4898, or in person through a free roof consultation at your home.