Can You Cover Your Entire Roof with Solar Panels?

Installing solar panels is a practical way to reduce your home energy costs and even eliminate your monthly electricity bills.

In states with favorable net metering policies, you can return any excess solar electricity to the utility company for credit against your future electricity use. For these reasons, you might think it makes sense to fill your entire roof with PV modules, to maximize your photovoltaic output.

Solar panels

Unfortunately, this might not be the wisest course of action.

Covering Your Roof with Solar Panels May Raise Structural Concerns

For practical reasons, most homes in the U.S. have not been structurally engineered with photovoltaic panels in mind.

PV modules weigh roughly 40 pounds each, and that doesn’t include the mounting racks and hardware. While most homes can support an average-sized solar array, the majority are not capable of bearing the weight of an entire rooftop of photovoltaic panels.

In addition, many cities and homeowners associations impose setback requirements for the installation of solar modules. The array must be situated to provide firefighters with adequate rooftop access in the event of an emergency. And although many HOAs now allow residents to take advantage of rooftop alternative energy systems, most restrict the percentage of the rooftop that can be used for that purpose.

Roof Orientation and the Placement of Solar Panels

Rooftop orientation plays a large role in photovoltaic output. In the Intermountain West states, PV modules installed on south-facing roofs are most effective for capturing the sun’s energy.

West- and east-facing rooftops can also work for generating solar energy, with the right design. However, north-facing panels will provide little value for most homeowners. As a result, extending a photovoltaic array over the entire roof is probably not a good investment.

Shading is also a consideration. Adding solar modules to a part of the roof that doesn’t have full access to sunlight is usually not cost-effective.

Extra Solar Panels Extend the Payback Period

The more solar panels you include in your photovoltaic system, the higher the cost. And the higher the investment cost, the longer it takes to reach payback, the point at which the PV modules have paid for themselves.

Net metering can help solve this problem, but not every state in the Intermountain West offers credits for excess solar electricity production. Some utility companies limit the amount of net metering credit homeowners can receive each year, with no compensation offered for any overage.

For these reasons, it’s important that your solar panel system is designed to meet your family’s energy needs. This ensures that you leverage your investment for maximum cost savings and energy independence.

The professional team at Intermountain Wind & Solar can recommend an appropriate size for your solar array, so you can maximize your photovoltaic output and get a timely payback on your investment. Contact us today to schedule a solar panel consultation in Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming or Nevada.

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