With the abundance of sunlight, utilizing it optimally not only reduces carbon footprint but it also does away with the worry of dwindling natural resources like coal and petroleum. Installation of solar panels is bound to satiate your energy requirements and cut down your energy costs. It can indeed prove to be a good investment.
But before you go ahead with the installation, find out the suitability of your rooftop for this purpose. Here are 7 questions you need to answer before deciding to install solar panels on your roof.
1. What Is The Style of Your Roof?
The ideal shape of the roof for installation of solar panels is rectangular. But finding an exact rectangular roof is next to impossible. Structures like chimneys, turrets, dormers, and skylights are commonplace on most rooftops.
But you need not worry about this too much as the companies involved in the installation process are professional and equipped enough to deal with these impediments. Not only these obstructions, they know how to move drain pipes to facilitate the panels.
2. What Is The Slope of the Roof?
This is again a very important criterion and here the installer may provide you with the necessary guidance. A flat arrangement has the demerit of slow precipitation run-off, that is, precipitation in any form will not flow off easily and this, in turn, will reduce the efficiency of the solar panels.
On the other hand, if you set it too steep, the panels would receive much less sunlight and thereby decreased energy production. The optimal slope is a twenty or thirty-degree tilt but at times this angle becomes steeper if you live north.
3. What Is The Roof Direction?
There is a general rule that states that the solar panels should face the direction the earth’s equator is in. This means that the houses in the Northern Hemisphere should have their panels facing south and vice versa. Even south-east or south-west will do fine for the houses in the northern half of the globe.
You may also opt for east or west-facing panels; while one will work better in the first part of the day the second will work well for during the second half. Just be careful to do away with all sorts of obstruction in this kind of arrangement.
4. What Is The Size of the Roof?
The larger the size of the rooftop the better. Over here, the surface area of the rooftop counts. To get an idea, 100 square feet of rooftop will yield 1 kW solar power. Sheds and garages may also be utilized for installing solar panels depending upon amount of sun rays they receive and their sturdiness to hold such installations.
5. What Is the Material of the Roof?
When it comes to type of material, the best-suited for solar panels is asphalt shingles. Also, rooftops made of materials like clay tiles, rubber, standing seam, and corrugated metal are suited for solar installation. Any kind of durable and strong material if used for rooftops is ideal for setting up panels.
But if your roof is made of wood shingles or clay, installation is a tough task as these materials, being brittle, are not able to endure the huge load of the installation. But, then, don’t lose heart! The professionals just know the type of equipment elements and mounting machinery to use to install solar panels on such rooftops.
6. How Much Sun Exposure Does the Roof Gets?
According to me, since we are discussing solar power, this criterion is possibly the most important one. The more sunlight your roof gets the better would be the energy production. It would be perfect if your entire roof receives direct sunlight from nine in the morning to three in the afternoon and that too throughout the year. You may consult insolation maps available at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to get an idea of the amount of sunlight received by your locality.
You must also be careful regarding obstructions that might hinder sunlight from reaching your rooftop. These barriers might be chimneys or tall, neighboring buildings or trees. These hindrances will lessen energy production. Also, the length and duration of shadows are bigger during winter. Just to make sure about the amount of sun exposure your rooftop is to receive during winter, you may take the guidance of an acclaimed solar installation company.
7. What is the Condition of the Roof?
Before you start with any sort of installation, find out the condition of your rooftop. If it is in need of repair just at this moment or will require the same in the next few years, go for the repair and get the work done before starting the installation.
This is because most of these installations come with warranties for many years and they usually stand the test of time. And you would not like to pull down these installations just for the repair work of your roof as the companies will charge you every time they set-up and bring-down. So only if you feel your roof is going to stand strong for another fifteen years, go ahead with the installation of the solar panels.
If such is the case that your home is governed by any homeowners association (HOA), you will probably have to abide by the rules and regulations set by them as they are the ones instrumental in planning the outer structure of the homes in your neighborhood. So pore through the regulations of the HOA and then decide for yourself.
You will be in a similar soup if you are staying in a rented house. You will need to get the consent of your landlord before you can go ahead with your plan of solar panel installation.