Solar is a sensible energy choice for homes and businesses with a vavariety of roof types, including flat roofs. During the installation process for a flat roof, you will need to keep a few things in mind. Before installation, we will explain all you need to know about solar for flat roofs and how your flat roof solar system could be even more efficient than a conventional solar system.
Can solar panels be installed on a flat roof?
You typically envision either a utility-scale ground-mounted solar photovoltaic system or a rooftop solar panel system when you think of a solar installation. If you have a flat roof, you may not realize that solar can be a viable option for your home. Flat roof solar panel systems can be designed with greater flexibility than sloped roof systems, making it easier to maximize the output of your solar panels.
There are significant design issues when installing solar panels on sloped roofs or mounting them on the ground; the same is true for flat roof installations. During your search for a solar firm, you may find installers who do not operate on flat roofs, particularly if you do not reside in a region where they are prevalent. Because they deal with a restricted selection of equipment and standardized system designs to reduce costs, several of the largest national solar leasing businesses will not install solar panels on flat rooftops.
Nonetheless, this problem is easily solved by obtaining a second (and third) opinion. You should easily be able to find a solar installer with experience designing and installing solar panel systems for flat roofs if you obtain numerous bids.
Difficulties of placing solar panels on a flat roof
Whether you have a conventional asphalt roof, a metal roof, or a flat roof, it is usual to encounter obstacles while installing a solar panel system, but these obstacles are typically quite simple to overcome (depending on your setup). However, while installing solar panels on a flat roof, you may encounter the following specific and typical issues:
If you install solar panels flat against your flat roof, they become significantly dirtier over time because they are not installed at an angle; dirt affects production, so you will need to clean your panels more frequently than you would otherwise.
Throughout the day in the United States (and the entire northern hemisphere), the sun travels from east to west across the southern sky. Solar panels facing south will provide the most energy; laying them flat against a flat roof would result in a considerable loss of energy production.
Many manufacturers add conditions that void the warranty if the panels are positioned flat against a flat roof; there is a greater danger of water damage because water can pool and lie on top of the panel. However, this is readily solved by installing solar panels at an angle on a flat roof, enabling rain (or any other liquid) to run off.
Some installers do not operate on flat roofs in order to keep costs low. When requesting quotations, be sure to state that your roof is flat to find installers who will work on rooftops like yours.
Fortunately, if you install your solar panels at an angle on your flat roof and compare solar installation providers, you should be able to circumvent these obstacles.
Is it more expensive to install solar panels on a flat roof?
Labor and installation costs typically account for about 10 percent of your total solar PV system costs. This is largely due to the challenges of installing solar panels and their mounts on a high roof. Installing a solar panel system on a flat roof is easier in comparison; workers may walk freely on the roof without special equipment, and most flat roof materials can easily withstand the wear and tear that happens during installation. In general, the installation prices for solar panels on flat roofs are comparable to those for normal installations on sloped roofs.
To install solar panels on a flat roof, your solar contractor will not need to make roof penetrations. Multiple holes are drilled into the rooftop to secure the racking that holds the solar panels in place. Flat roof systems often utilize a weighted mounting system (also known as a "ballast system"), which employs gravity to sit atop your roof without the need to drill holes.
However, solar panels installed on flat rooftops may require specific equipment to provide the most electricity possible. Instead of installing a flat solar panels on a sloped roofs, your solar installer will likely use angled mounts that tilt your solar panels up so they are exposed to the sun for most of the day. This might occasionally result in a somewhat higher cost for a solar panel installation for a flat roof.
How effective are solar panels on a flat roof?
Solar installers building photovoltaic (PV) systems for standard-pitched roofs must consider roof pitch and orientation. Solar panels should ideally be positioned south at an angle equivalent to their location's latitude. If you can only put solar panels on the north side of your roof, or if your roof faces east or west, your system will produce less electricity daily. Additionally, some pitched roofs are steeper than others, which might result in less-than-ideal electricity output. Although this does not imply that solar is not worthwhile, these factors can reduce your overall 20-year electricity production.
Flat roofs provide greater design freedom for solar panel systems. If you put solar panels on your flat roof, you can orient them to face south and set them at the best angle to maximize your solar energy generation. Solar panel systems installed on flat rooftops are frequently more efficient than those installed on sloped roofs.
Is solar installation on a flat roof safe?
When it comes to the actual installation process, installing solar on a flat roof is significantly safer for the persons executing the installation themselves. (However, you should still have professionals install your solar system instead of attempting a do-it-yourself installation.)
If you choose to position your solar panels to flush against your flat roof, you risk dirt buildup and water pooling. While dirt gathering is more of an annoyance than anything else (requiring more cleaning than tilted panels), pooling can pose a serious threat to your roof's structural integrity. When it rains, water may pool up on top of and around flat solar panels and linger there, risking damage to both the panels and the roof. However, if you install your panels at an angle on your flat roof, you should be able to avoid this problem.