solar panel flat roof

Can We Install Solar Panels on A Flat Roof? Guide 2022

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For buildings with flat roofs, solar energy is a wise energy choice. There are numerous sizes and shapes of solar panels. A variety of properties, including those with flat roofs, can benefit from solar energy thanks to the availability of traditional panels, flexible panels, and even solar tiles on the market today.

As you complete the installation process, there are a few things to keep in mind. The topic of today’s discussion is how to put solar panels on a false roof.

Things to Consider Before Installing Solar Panels on A Flat Roof

Do the weather conditions meet your needs?

The weather is an important factor to take into account when it comes to solar panels, especially if they are installed on a flat roof.

We’ve already talked about how rain can harm flat-roof solar panels, with water pooling leading to silicon degradation. Fortunately, this can be easily fixed with a mounting rack. However, dealing with strong winds can be a little more challenging.

It’s a good idea to take a few extra precautions to keep your panels pinned down if you live in an especially windy area. The most popular way of doing this is either by fixing the panels to the house or adding weight to them. 

  • Fixing panels to your home – To maintain the stability of the mounting frame, this entails drilling into the roof and fastening the brackets. Take extra care to ensure the roof remains watertight
  • Adding weight – Simply adding weight to the structure is a good backup plan if you are unable to penetrate your roof. The mounting frame increases the wind resistance of the panels by allowing them to slide into concrete ballasts (heavy slabs). Get a structural engineer to check if your roof can take this extra weight

What is the cost of mounting solar panels on a flat roof?

Generally, installing solar panels on a flat roof will cost more than on a pitched roof – around 20% more, depending on the situation.

The number of panels you order and the type of mounting method you choose will undoubtedly affect the price.

The cost of materials for the ballast weight and framing system is the main factor driving up the cost of flat roof solar panel installations. In most cases, you’ll also need to pay a structural engineer, which raises the price.

What financial savings might solar energy offer?

The average three-bedroom house will save £534 per year with a 3.5 kWp solar PV system.

Our research into whether solar panels are worth it also shows that if you installed solar panels today, you’d break even in 10.2 years, and make an overall profit of £7,932 after 25 years.

And with 65% of people telling our latest Go green because, according to the National Home Energy Survey, they’d purchase a home with solar panels.

On A Flat Roof, Can Solar Panels Be Mounted?

Yes, even though flat roof solar panel systems are more frequently found on commercial buildings, they are also effective on residential properties.

You can install solar panels on a flat roof if it’s in good condition and there aren’t any large obstructions nearby, like trees, that could block the sun and reduce your energy output.

In some situations, installing solar can benefit from a flat roof more than one that is slanted.

For one thing, the panels make your home’s overall aesthetic value less obvious from the street. Additional advantages exist as well.

When planning solar panel installation on a flat roof, one of the decisions you have to make is whether to mount the panels flat or to use tilt-up mounting equipment to raise the panels to a more normal 25°.

How Do They Work?

The solar panels that are used on a flat roof are exactly the same as the ones used on a pitched roof. You can technically lay the panels down on a flat roof – just as you would on a pitched roof – but this will restrict them from absorbing as much sun as possible, and might also lead to water damage.

That’s why you need to install a framing system, to tilt your panels towards the sun. This will enable them to self-clean in the rain and prevent damage from water that pools.

Advantages And Disadvantages of Solar panels on A Flat Roof

Advantages of flat roof solar panels

  • Flat roofs provide easy access for installation and maintenance
  • Panels probably won’t be visible from the street
  • You’ll be able to save money on electricity bills
  • You’ll be able to shrink your carbon footprint
  • They’re low maintenance
  • Labor costs can be more affordable

Disadvantages of flat roof solar panels

While flat roof solar panels have a number of drawbacks, keep in mind that most of these can be overcome by using a tilted mounting system.

  • Panels get far dirtier over time – Rainfall typically cleans dirt and debris off the panels on a tilted roof. Without this self-cleaning feature, the dirt will stay there, reducing the solar panel’s efficiency
  • Without additional mounting equipment, panels won’t get as much exposure – On a slanted roof, solar panels are typically facing southward to maximize solar exposure and generate more energy. Laid flat, panels are unable to convert as much energy because they will not be getting as much sunlight
  • Flat roof panels can make some warranties ineffective – Water collects between the module’s glass coating and frame when panels are laid flat. Given this gap is only sealed with silicon, which easily degrades over time, panels are likely to become damaged faster than usual
  • Wind effects are greater, which means your installer will need to be careful while designing the mounting system. You’ll need a structural engineer to determine whether the roof can support the additional weight that is occasionally needed as ballast.

Additionally, installation may incur some extra costs. Many people spend money on mounting systems in order to avoid the aforementioned drawbacks. Generally, solar panel racking should make up roughly 3% of the total system cost, although this will fluctuate depending on the brand and type of rack you get, along with the amount you need to buy.

What Is The Ideal Angle for Solar Panels on Flat Roofs?

Purchase a mounting system that holds your panels upright to prevent water damage. Roofs come in all shapes and sizes but, generally, panels will need to be mounted at a 20-50 degree angle to absorb as much sunlight as possible.

And, as an added bonus, panels at this angle have a better chance of staying clean, as rainfall will remove debris and dirt that could reduce the panel’s efficiency.

When mounting panels at the ideal angle, installers frequently use specialized equipment, so be sure to hire a qualified expert.

Want to locate dependable installers right away? Get a head start by filling out this short form – after answering a few questions about your property, our professional suppliers will be in touch with free quotes for you to compare.

Will Installing Solar Panels on A Flat Roof Cost More Money?

Sometimes, the price is a little higher. Your installer’s use of angled mounts raises the system’s price by a small amount. However, other elements balance out that price disparity.

Installing and labor expenses account for about 10% of the total cost of most solar systems.

However, the costs of working on a flat roof are lower because they are inherently more accessible and secure than slanted ones.

Workers need specialized safety equipment to work on an angled roof without falling off. Furthermore, it’s possible for roofing components, like shingles, to come loose while working.

On a flat roof, neither of these present a problem. The materials on flat roofs are less likely to be harmed during installation because installers have more room to move around.

Final costs for a typical 7 kW residential solar power system differ by only about $800 depending on whether tilt-up mountings are used for a flat roof or a pitched roof.

Is It Dangerous to Install A Solar Panel on A Flat Roof?

As we’ve already discussed, it’s safer to install solar panels on a flat roof than on a sloped one.

There are a few problems that might occur after you install them, though. The first is the matter of dirt. Solar panels that are tilted are self-cleaning because water runs off and carries most dirt and debris away with it. Vertical panels do not provide this advantage.

Leakage is the main issue with mounting solar panels on a flat roof. When it rains, water that pools on and around flat-installed panels can harm your roof by causing leaks.

Water pooling can be prevented in a variety of ways, which is fortunate.

Angling your panels is the best solution. Your system can stay clean and prevent pooling with just a 3 to 4-degree tilt.

You can take additional measures to prevent pooling during installation.

You can firmly secure the system by drilling the panels into your roof, which lowers the risk of pooling.

Another option is to use a ballasted system, which uses weights rather than drilling to anchor the panels.

Hybrid systems are also available; these combine the two approaches. Learn what kind of solar installation is best for your roof.

Do Flat Roof Panels Always Need to Be Tilted?

They don’t have to be, necessarily. However, if you tilt the panels to the ideal angle, you’ll get more energy flowing out of them. Additionally, it can be challenging to obtain a warranty for panels with a tilt of fewer than 2 degrees due to the damage from leaking that we discussed above.

A panel installation at an angle is ultimately preferable. If necessary, you can adjust the degree of incline after installation is complete to meet your needs for energy output.

How to Find A Company to Install Solar Panels for Your Flat Roof?

It’s likely that your local installers have experience with these kinds of systems if you live in a neighborhood where many homes have flat roofs. To make sure you’re working with a business that has the right experience and credentials for your needs, you should, however, always request multiple quotes from installers.

The best way to find multiple local solar installers is to register your property on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace. When you sign up, just let installers know where your property is on Google Maps so they can see an overhead satellite image and recognize that it has a flat roof. You can also specify that you’re looking for a flat roof installation when you set up your preferences after joining to make certain that you only receive quotes from businesses that will work on your property.

Conclusion

You can still have a fully functional solar system in your home even if it has a flat roof.

Because you can control the tilt, it can even produce more energy for about the same cost as a slanted roof.

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