Installing flat roof solar panels can still attach to your roof, but this system requires a different racking system than sloped roofs. The costs of installing solar panels on a sloped roof and a flat roof are comparable. And flat roofs provide additional advantages compared to sloped roofs, such as the ease of maintenance and installation of a solar system.
A Roof Is Still a Roof, Right?
You may think all roofs are the same, but that is not the case for solar panels. There are many guidelines for installing solar panels on traditional sloped roofs, but flat roofs cannot be said.
How Common Are Sloped Roofs?
Flat roofs are not only popular for buildings like warehouses and shopping malls but also in residential homes.
Thankfully, it is possible to install solar panels on a flat roof. Still, you must consider important considerations to ensure damage doesn’t happen due to rain, wind, and other external factors.
The Tilt and Orientation Are Critical in Flat Roofs
There are two other important things to consider when you install solar panels on a flat roof. First is the tilt angle of the solar power system, and second is its orientation.
Once these two issues are addressed, you can experience great solar energy performance. To figure out these two elements, you must consider the position of the panels and the geography of your home.
Solar Panels Are Great for Flat Roofs
It can be an added benefit if you have a flat roof because it is more flexible than sloped roofs. Therefore, you can still get the most out of your solar panels.
Ease of Flat Roof Solar Panel Maintenance
Aside from that, flat roof solar panels give better access for maintenance.
Also, if you install solar panels on your flat roof, it will be barely visible from the street, so you are bound to get fewer complaints about it being an eyesore.
Adds Value on Sloped Roofs
Just like solar panels on sloped roofs, a solar installation system adds to your home value. If you decide to sell your home soon, you can sell it 4.1 percent higher on average compared to homes that don’t have solar systems.
Not only that, but your home will typically sell faster. You can enjoy the same federal tax credit and savings for sloped and flat roofs solar panel installations.
Remember Your Unique Design
But just like other types of roofs, you have to consider its unique design when it comes to buying or leasing a flat roof solar panel.
Keep in mind that not all solar companies can work on your home because some may not have the equipment needed to accommodate your specific needs.
This can be a problem, especially if you live where flat roofs are not common.
Will You Be Getting the Same Solar Energy with a Flat Roof?
Whether the three solar installations you choose, your solar panels will still give you the same energy performance.
But before you can produce solar energy, some important steps need to be followed.
Step 1- Maximize Tilt
First, adjust your panels to its optimum tilt angle, as well as the direction where it faces the roof. Tilted solar panels are crucial to maximize their energy potential as flat solar panels feature inherent problems.
It is vital for this to be included in the design stage, so make sure your chosen professional has prepared the layout beforehand.
Step 2- Minimize Shaded Areas
Another way to ensure you get the best solar power is to minimize the shaded area in your roof. This can be achieved by adjusting the distances between your solar panels, and this is recommended especially for those who have a big roof space.
If your roof has high parapet walls, opt for an elevated racking system. Knowing how shade affects your panel performance is key if you want to make the most out of it.
Step 3- Orientation
Just like pitched roof installations, your flat roof solar arrays must be orientated 90 degrees south to face east or west to give you the best performance.
It’s recommended to orient your panels with your home’s roof so you can fit the greatest number of solar panels in the given area.
There is almost no benefit to rotating the solar panel array due south since it may leave dead spaces that would otherwise be used to accommodate more panels.
It would also help keep that manufacturers only give warranties to panels installed at an angle less than two degrees.
Will Solar Panels on a Flat Roof Be More Expensive?
Installing a solar system on your flat roof can be more expensive because the angled mounts will cost extra money. However, other factors may lessen the price difference and balance the solar panel’s cost for these two roof options.
Installation and labor costs for many solar panel systems are high, but these costs can be reduced on a flat roof because the area is more accessible and safer than sloped roofs.
Not only that, but workers who install panels on angled roofs need to work with safety equipment. With a flat roof installation, workers can walk around, work freely, and lay the material on the surface without many potential dangers.
What About Permits?
The planning permission guidelines for installing solar energy systems on flat and sloped roofs are the same in most cases. If you’re unsure, check with the local planning authority in your area before having any solar panels installed.
Will Storms Damage Your Solar Panels?
When you have a solar panel system installed on your flat roof, you don’t have to worry about it being damaged by storms since it will be designed to withstand high wind velocity.
Design Your System Well
During your design and installation process, your solar company of choice will consider the wind speed in your area, especially if it reaches more than 180 kilometers per hour.
This will ensure that you won’t have to deal with damage after a storm or strong wind surge.
Be Prepared for Wind
It is important to specify the wind speed requirements so your solar panel system can withstand potentially strong winds.
Ask a professional to help you with this to ensure that you get the right type of racking. The solar company may also need to make the structural profiles thicker depending on typical weather conditions in your area.
It is recommended to go with an installer that has had experience in installing solar panels in flat roofs around your area. This way, you are sure that they can give you exactly what you need.
Preparing for Your Solar Panels
There are numerous ways to install a solar panel system on your flat roof. But before you prepare for the installation, there are some things you need to consider.
Supporting Weight Flat Roof Solar Panels
First, you need to be sure that your roof can fully support the weight of your panels as well as the mounts. A solar system can be a heavy endeavor. Make sure your roof can withstand these demands.
Flat Roof Solar Panels Issues
Second, you must identify issues in your roof that may hinder installation efforts. Be wary of problems such as plant growth, cracks, and low spots.
If you find any such issues, you need to address them before construction starts.
Whatever installation type you choose for your solar energy system, your roof’s mechanical units must be factored in.
This can include drains, vents, rooftop structures, outdoor air-conditioning units, and water pipes. All these may affect the shading on your roof, as well as the maintenance access to your solar panels.
Ways to Install a Flat Roof Solar Panel
After considering these items, it will be easier to design your new solar energy system. Here are the different ways to install solar panels on a flat roof.
This solar panel installation is more common when little to no parapet walls surround the concrete roof.
The parapets help to lessen the effect of wind pressure on the panels. If your roof is subject to high wind speeds, this method will work best.
Another thing you should know about this installation method is it can be costly since it involves chemical anchoring. This is a technique that injects resin before the racking stud is inserted.
The chemical will enable the stud to adhere better by filling in all cracks that are present.
The extra strength in this solar mounting method will make it completely airtight, so you wouldn’t have to worry about leakages in your home.
Concrete Footing Installation
This type involved a solar power company building concrete blocks on your roof as the footing for the panel racking. This is commonly used for roofs with high parapet walls and a big space to accommodate solar panels.
The footings will sit directly on your roof, and it would work similarly to a ground-mounted system. Because the solar panels will be elevated, the shading effects from the parapet walls can be reduced.
The purpose of the base is to make sure that the solar panels will stay intact even if it encounters heavy wind or rain during storms.
It is also a great option if you want to avoid water leakages on your roof.
The downside to this option is some homeowners may not want concrete foundations to be added to their roof due to the building’s old age.
Some people are also worried that it would affect their waterproofing insurance.
This installation uses a heavy material to keep your solar racks in place. Therefore, the installers don’t have to drill in the anchors.
The ballasted type installation is more affordable and quicker than other installation methods, and it is commonly used if you don’t want other materials added directly to your roof.
Issues With Flat Roof Solar Panels
Here are some things you need to consider before getting a solar panel system on your flat roof. Keep in mind that all these disadvantages can be avoided if the panel system is designed effectively.
Despite having the same performance as a solar installation on sloped roofs, you are bound to face problems with your flat roof solar power system if you don’t prepare for it.
This happens when the rainwater pools around the panels. In time, it can damage your roof’s integrity.
Water pooling is more common if you have a flat roof type. Because it is flat, the water does not have a place to go but down. So flat solar panels tend to collect water or drop it into your home.
Adding panels may also give you a possibility of a leakage when the installation is not carefully considered. So make sure all the holes are sealed properly. If you choose the ballasted installation, there are non-penetrating ballast systems you can use.
Keeping it clean
You should know that horizontal solar panels cannot self-clean like tilted ones. Debris and dust will accumulate on the surface, interfering with the amount of energy produced by your solar panels.
Tilting your panels a bit is recommended to keep them clean during rain.
Putting Solar Panels on Your Flat Roof Is a Wise Choice
Having a successful solar energy system in your home is possible even if you have a flat roof. When it comes to this setup, the best thing to do is to educate yourself on the different factors involved to avoid mistakes during the construction of this renewable energy source.
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