Roof Areas to Check for Solar Panel Suitability

There are a few basic themes you and your solar power expert will be looking into if you're considering making the move to solar for your home or building in the near future, and one of these is ensuring that your roof is compatible for the installation of solar panels. Most roofs are easily suitable for this purpose, but simply confirming this with a few basic steps is one of the most important early steps in the solar acquisition process.

At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we're happy to work with clients during every stage of their residential or commercial solar power acquisition or installation process, including assistance with determining the suitability of your roof for solar installation. Here's a primer on the simple areas you'll want to be looking at (with assistance from our team if necessary, of course), plus a quick primer to start out on why you're not necessarily out of luck even if your roof happens to not be suitable for solar panel installation.

Roof Isn't the Only Option for Solar Panels

While most are familiar with solar power in the form of panels on the roof of a home or building, it's important to be aware that this isn't the only option available. If your roof happens to not be suitable for solar, or if you don't have a roof at all, we can explore other options such as mounting systems on an exterior wall or yard space, or even utilizing tracking systems that keep panels moving with the sun during the day.

In fact, in recent years, the viability of these alternative solar power options has increased exponentially, and many of our clients have gone this route as an ideal solution to their needs. So if you proceed with the steps we're about to go over and discover that your roof is one of the rare ones that isn't suitable for solar panel installation, don't despair - you still likely have quality options available.

With that said, let's move to the basic areas you'll be looking at to ensure your roof is compatible for solar panel installation.

Quality Sun Exposure

First and foremost, a vital component of your roof's suitability for solar installation is the quality and amount of sunlight it will be exposed to throughout the day. You'll want to take a look at exactly where on your property the sun rises and sets, while also taking into account any nearby trees or structures that might be blocking out some of that natural light.

If your roof is partially or fully obstructed from the sun, this doesn't necessarily mean that solar panel installation is impossible, but it will likely limit the effectiveness of the system. You'll need to have a discussion with your solar power expert at Intermountain Wind & Solar to determine whether an alternative mounting or tracking system could be used for these types of roofs.

If you're just taking a general look at your roof for a broad idea of its sun exposure, some simple things to look for include:

- The direction the roof is facing (south-facing for optimal sun exposure)

- The pitch of the roof (ideally 30 degrees or higher)

- Any trees, buildings, or natural structures that might be blocking out sunlight

Roof Material

Another important area to inspect when determining your roof's suitability for solar panel installation is the material it's made of. As a general rule, most types of roofs are compatible with solar, including asphalt, slate, metal and fiber cement shingles. You'll also want to check any warranties that may apply to the roof in order to ensure that installing solar panels won't void them.

In some cases, you may encounter a roof that isn't suitable for solar panel installation due to the material it's made of; for example, if it's constructed from clay or concrete tile. In this case, we'll need to analyze further to determine whether this is an absolute dealbreaker or if there are other solutions available. However, these are quite rare with today's roofing materials.

Structural Integrity

The actual condition of your structure's roof is another factor that will need to be taken into account when determining whether it's suitable for solar panel installation. You'll want to make sure there are no weak spots on the roof that would prevent the system from being properly installed, and you may even have a structural engineer come out if necessary in order to verify its integrity for these purposes.

And of course, if you encounter any signs of damage or wear during your inspection, such as missing shingles or rotting wood, these need to be addressed prior to the installation of solar panels. In most cases this is easily done by replacing the affected materials and confirming with your engineer that they're secure before proceeding.

Total Surface Area

Finally, while this is not often an area that stops a roof from being suitable for solar panel installation, you'll want to make sure that there's enough surface area available on the structure in order to accommodate the size of the system you're planning to install. Generally, most roofs easily meet this requirement, but if yours is particularly small then it could be a factor.

The bottom line is that you'll need to do a thorough inspection of your roof in order to determine whether it's suitable for solar panel installation. By taking into account the sun exposure, material, structural integrity and total surface area of your structure's roof, you can gain a good understanding as to whether it meets the necessary criteria.

At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we're ready to help you with the process of assessing your roof's suitability for solar panel installation. Contact us today and let our experts take care of everything so you can start taking advantage of clean, renewable energy in no time!

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