Customer questions about solar installation often come back around to roof-related issues. Although solar-powered energy-generating systems have become extremely popular throughout the western United States, many potential customers are still unfamiliar with the requirements for installation. The majority of solar energy systems are roof-mounted, so this concern is well-founded. Following are a few basic facts about system installation and requirements.
Must My Roof be Fully South-Facing?
The ideal orientation involves a sufficient portion of the roof with a due-south exposure; however, there are always exceptions to this guideline. While south is best, many systems can be installed with a modified orientation. Your roof does not necessarily have to be sloped either — many systems are installed on flat-roofed buildings with great success. In fact, a roof or building is not even necessary for installing solar panels. If your roof is unsuitable due to orientation or shading from vegetation or neighboring structures, solar collecting panels can be mounted on an independent framework set up separately from your home. If you’re committed to adopting solar energy, you can find a way to make it work.
Will My Roofing Material Be a Problem?
Most of today’s popular roofing surfaces make an ideal base for solar panels. Cement tile and metal roofing products are considered to be the most solar-friendly. Clay tile and slate roofing do well too, assuming the installers are proficient in their work. Experts recommend having your tile roof inspected prior to installation, so that any damaged tiles can be replaced ahead of time. Traditional asphalt tab shingles are the most problematic, simply because the life expectancy of shingles is often less than that of solar panels. Because re-roofing in the future will mean moving the panels, experts recommend having your roof inspected and repaired or replaced prior to solar panel installation.
How Much Space Will I Need for Solar Panels?
The answer to this question depends on the size of your building and how much power you would like to produce. The general calculation is approximately 100 square feet of roof surface for every kilowatt you plan to generate. The average effective array requires between 200 and 500 square feet of roof space. Remember that any roof penetration or architectural feature reduces the area that can hold the panels. Before installation, remove as many obstacles as you can. This may mean removing old TV antennas or relocating air vents, if possible.
Intermountain Wind and Solar will visit your home and examine all the relevant issues related to your roof prior to providing you with a price quote for your solar energy system. Contact them today to learn more about the process and requirements for solar installation.
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