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Installing solar panels requires a solar racking system, which secures solar panels and inverters to a variety of surfaces including roofs. The equipment is built to be easily installed onto most existing rooftops, however, there are a few roofing types that might require retrofit. The common roof types that are most appropriate for solar panel installation are outlined below.
In addition to roof type, quality and condition should also be considered. Because most solar panels have a lifespan of 25-30 years or more, they must be installed on a roof that can last at least that long. Before going solar, be sure your roof can sustain a solar PV system.
Composite and asphalt shingles are the two most common types of shingle roofing. Slate, laminate, and wood are examples of composite shingles, whereas asphalt shingles are made from cellulose mat or fiberglass materials combined with asphalt.
Solar panels on shingle roofs are easy to install because they simply require ordinary penetrating mounts that can be quickly connected. The installation is economical and can last up to two decades, making it a viable choice for solar panels with a lengthy life term.
Standing seam metal roofs are ideal for solar installation. The reason for this is because the seams allow for easy connection of solar panels, eliminating the need for holes. Metal roofs are also excellent for hotter, sunnier climates because they reflect the light that does not fall on the solar panels, allowing the home to cool down.
This roof type has a distinct, modern look and is preferred by many people due to its durability. A metal roof can last anywhere between 40 and 70 years, more than doubling the average lifespan of a single solar panel.
Clay, concrete, and slate are the most common materials used to make tile shingles. If your home has a tile roof, you can use a penetrating mount to lift the solar panels over the roof. This may necessitate additional time when installing your system, or additional costs when using a contractor, if part of the tiles must be removed or cut to make holes for the mounts.
Although the installation process may take a bit longer than on a standing seam metal roof, tile roofs are long-lasting, more waterproof than many other rooftops, and are considered aesthetically beautiful by many homeowners.
TPO roofing is made up of recycled rubber that is held together by heat-glued seams. Because of its resilience to heat and UV rays, TPO is a versatile low-slope roofing material that is both cost-effective and long-lasting.
Panels installed on a TPO surface are mostly hovering, as securing them to the membrane would compromise it and possibly allow water leakage. The solar panels are mounted on plastic frames that are installed on top of the TPO roof in the "floating" method.
DIYers can also install solar panel systems on rolled composite and flat roofs. If you have multiple roof types or roofing that is not listed here, be sure to consult with one of our DIY Solar Power experts or specify this when you Build Your System.
If you want to learn more about installing a solar system on your home’s roof, contact a DIY Solar Power expert today. Our DIY Kits include racking equipment best suited your home’s covering material. The more you know about your unique roof, the better prepared you will be when your new solar system arrives.