Solar energy is quickly becoming a preferred way to power the home for many homeowners. You’ve probably seen plenty of panels popping up near your home! Solar can be a great investment for a home but before it can be installed, there are a few requirements your roof will have to meet in order to make sure the system and your roof will be safe.
What Are The Roof Requirements For Solar?
In most cases, as long as your roof is structurally sound and has enough sun-facing surface area to fit the number of panels your home needs, your roof will be sufficient to install solar panels.
Though this is generally the case, it’s important to allow a professional to conduct a site survey to make sure that your roof is a good fit for solar. Here are some of the factors they’ll be looking at.
Your Roof Needs To Be Structurally Sound
The most important factor is just to make sure that your roof is structurally sound. This is something that your solar company will make sure of using engineering reports during your site survey. Interestingly, your roof doesn’t have to be particularly hard/strong like you might expect.
Each panel with all of its components weighs abouts 40 pounds which is dispersed over a surface area of about 18 ft—an amount that most roofs can easily support.
This is actually not a whole lot of weight per square foot. It would do a lot more damage a lot more quickly if the whole 40 pounds was confined to a smaller surface area. For example, if you went out and stood in one spot on your roof for the next 20 years, you would probably make a big hole! But since solar panels are designed to cover a lot of surface area in order to capture a lot of light, you don’t have to worry much about their added weight.
Your Roof Plus The Panels Must Be Able to Withstand Extreme Weather
The team that inspects your roof will have to make sure that together, your roof and the panels will be able to withstand even a 1000-year weather event, for example heavy ice and snow in the desert. (To read about how solar panels work when it’s not sunny, click here.)
This is something that roofing companies already ensure for the roof alone, and your solar company will double-check for the added weight of the solar panels. This is one of the major reasons it’s important to hire a professional to install your system, because they will have access to the technology that allows them to ensure your home will be protected.
Your Roof Must Have Enough Surface Area To Fit The Panels
In some cases, homes are built in such a way that the usable surface area of the roof is relatively small compared to the internal square footage of the home. For example, some multi-story homes get their square footage from their height rather than their width. It can also happen when a home is built close to other structures that shade the roof, like trees or other buildings.
When this is the case, it may be difficult to design a roof system that allows for enough solar panels to meet the energy needs of the home.
This is another great example of why working with a professional on this project is a good idea, because they can help you make sure your energy needs are being met 100%. If your roof isn’t able to fit a sufficient number of panels, your solar company may recommend that you use a ground mount instead.