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.
There are several options for placement for those homeowners who decide to install solar panels on their homes. Some homeowners who have plenty of space may want to install a system mounted on the ground. However, for most people, 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 fine for installing solar panels, some are better than others. This article will look at the three best roof materials for solar panels on your home.
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. Asphalt or composite shingles are the best choices for solar-friendly, flexible, and durable qualities.
Asphalt shingles consist of 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 would then seal the fasteners between the panel and the studs with an appropriate sealant 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. Asphalt shingles are the most commonly used roof material 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 an excellent 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 help keep the inside of your home nice and cool, even in the summertime.
The standing seams in a metal roof make for a more straightforward installation process. Solar professionals may not need to drill into your roof to attach brackets, so the labor cost will be lower, reducing the overall price of the installation process. Instead, the panels may be attached to the raised standing seams with a clamp.
However, one factor that may be important is that metal roofs can affect the local internet connectivity capabilities inside the house, depending on your particular internet and network setup. 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 internet signal.
Additionally, metal roofs are a more sustainable, environmentally friendly option since they are made of recycled materials that are durable enough to last for decades. You can install either thin-film or standard PV solar panels with a metal roof.
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 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 straight underneath the panel mounts with another material, as those locations will likely be hidden from sight by the panels. Using different materials may lessen the risk of the clay or slate tiles breaking during installation or 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. The solar panel array will then convert the captured solar energy into usable electricity. Spanish-style tile roofs may require the panels to be raised higher, which can sometimes make the cost of installation that much pricier. On the plus side, clay tile roofs can last for over a hundred years. They can also typically weather the most brutal 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.
Should The Roof Be Replaced First?
Before you install solar panels on any roofing material, a homeowner should schedule a roof inspection to evaluate the overall health of the existing roofing system. If your roof is within five 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 roof replacement cost.
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 regarding the best requirements for a solar panel-friendly roof.
Take into account the 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