Yes, You CAN Go Solar Without a Shingle Roof! Here’s How.
The most common roofing material found on homes throughout the United States is asphalt shingles, but style and efficiency preferences are transforming the way we build and remodel our homes. Tile, slate, metal and even flat roofs are becoming popular choices outside of the traditional shingle. Homeowners who break from the convention of asphalt shingles may wonder, "are solar panels still a viable option for my home?" And the good news is that, in most cases, yes!
Since the invention of the silicon photovoltaic cell in 1954, solar power has evolved to become both an affordable and practical alternative energy solution for private homes, businesses, and entire communities. Solar technology continues to improve in efficiency and design, opening doors for homeowners with unique or non-conventional roofs to reap the benefits of solar energy. To learn how, let's start with how the solar panel installation process works.
Understanding the Solar Panel Roof Installation Process
From start to finish, a solar panel roof installation involves a combination of industry professionals and data curated specifically for your home. Many variables are considered and calculations done to ensure your system will work and be as efficient as possible. It requires dedicated skill and knowledge from a team of experts, but for the homeowner, the solar installation process looks like this:
- An engineer will evaluate your home and roof to determine if it is eligible for solar, based on roof pitch, material, sunlight exposure, size and shape.
- If your home is a good solar candidate, the company will discuss your energy needs and financing options, and design a system to work for your home.
- Panels, inverter(s) and hardware will be ordered for your system.
- An installation crew will mount the system to your roof, which typically takes less than a week. For asphalt shingle roofs, this involves penetrating mounts drilled into the rafters.
For the homeowner, it's a painless process with great rewards. Going solar has never been easier, but how does the task stand to roof types other than asphalt shingles?
Solar Panel Mounting Considerations for Different Roofing Types
There are some considerations when planning a solar panel roof install on unconventionally shaped or pitched roofs, as well as roofing materials other than the traditional asphalt shingle. Additional materials or resources may be required for installation, as well as more time for the installation process. The installation company will be able to determine any potential risks or additional requirements when analyzing your roof, so there will be no surprises on installation day. They will also ensure a solar panel system can be mounted to your roof without causing leaks or damage, and that the roof will be able to hold the system securely over time.
How are Solar Panels Mounted to Roofing Materials Other Than Shingles?
The panels, hardware, mounts and all other materials needed are determined based on a few different factors, one of them being roofing material. Slate, tile, metal and other non-shingle roofs require different mounting styles and materials for the system to be functional and safe:
- Tile. Tile roofing is popular in warmer climates, and may be made from clay, concrete, or other materials. Typically, mounting a solar system to a tile roof involves brackets to mount the panels over the tiles. This may require more labor for an optimal fit, but it is a minimally-invasive mounting procedure with little risk of damage.
- Metal. Already an eco-friendly choice, metal roofing can actually make for an easy install. Most metal roofs are standing seam, and these seams can host a panel array without the need to drill holes. This may even save time and money, depending on the install.
- Slate. Installation of solar panels on a slate roof is similar to asphalt shingles, but requires additional labor for a safe install. Slate is a type of stone, and special care is necessary to ensure the tile does not split or crack when drilling for the penetrating mount. Depending on the integrity of your existing slate roof, some tiles may need to be replaced.
- Flat roofs. Did you know solar production is most efficient when the panels are mounted at an angle? But this does not mean flat roofs do not benefit from solar. In fact, you may find you have more surface area for a larger array, if desired. Solar system installation on a flat roof simply requires a frame or angled mount to ensure your panels are positioned for the best energy output.
Roofing material is becoming less of an issue when it comes to solar panel mounting, thanks to new products and technology available in this green, growing industry. And as solar becomes increasingly affordable, more homeowners are choosing to make the switch.
You Could Be Generating Sustainable Energy from Your Roof with AskSolar
Determining the best solar panel fit and mount for your roof depends on many factors, but it's a stress-free process with the help of industry experts who are highly skilled in doing just that. AskSolar Energy Advocates are ready to provide you with answers to all of your questions, including how solar can work best for you and your home.
If you're ready to make the empowering switch to an affordable and eco-conscious energy solution, fill out our online contact form for more information on solar in your region at no cost to you.