Installing a Solar PV System on a Tile Roof

Although a solar PV system can be installed on any type of roof, tile roofing materials make the process slightly more complicated.

Before undertaking a solar installation, you may need to give your roof a little attention to ensure you won’t have problems down the road.

Solar PV system on tile roof

Consider Your Roof Underlayment

Roof tiles can last for 50 to 75 years. But the roof underlayment — the barrier that protects your home against water infiltration — does not have the same durability.

Underlayment loses its integrity faster, decomposing due to exposure to heat, UV rays and moisture. Most homeowners have to replace their tile roof underlayment in less than 25 years, and some need replacement in as little as 15 years.

Most solar panels come with a 25-year warranty, and they often perform well for much longer. So before scheduling a solar PV installation, make sure your roof underlayment is in decent shape. If it isn’t, you may want to consider replacing it now, to ensure that the entire roofing system lasts as long as your solar array.

Expect Roof Tiles to Break

If you have ever worked on a tile roof, you may know that virtually every project results in a few broken tiles. This durable roofing material is strong, but it cracks easily if walked on.

An experienced photovoltaic contractor can install your solar panels with minimal breakage, but expect some tiles to break. Fortunately, the damage can be hidden.

Tile adhesive can repair small cracks. In areas with larger breaks, the tiles can be replaced.

Since newer tiles may not be an exact color match, your photovoltaic contractor can work a little roofing magic. The different-color tiles can be moved to less visible areas of the roof, and original tiles relocated to more noticeable areas.

Solar PV Mounting Options for a Tile Roof

Photovoltaic contractors typically choose one of three options for mounting solar PV panels on a tile roof.

Standoffs with double flashing are the most commonly used method, as this type of PV system mounting allows for the use of different solar racking systems. Also, standoff mounts are stronger because they are secured to both the rafter and the rack.

Tile hooks are suitable for some solar PV system installations. These attachments are faster, easier and less expensive to use, as they have fewer parts. However, hooks won’t work with every type of roof tile.

In some cases, the strip-and-go method is the preferred option for installing solar panels. With this type of mounting, tiles at the installation area are removed and replaced with composition shingles. Original tiles are then placed around the PV system, concealing the change in the rooftop surface.

The appropriate choice of mounting is determined on a case-by-case basis, once the installation contractor evaluates the roof.

Intermountain Wind & Solar, serving homeowners and businesses throughout Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado and Wyoming, understands the challenges of installing solar panels on a tile roof. Schedule a free consultation today to explore adding a solar PV system at your location.