Does The Quality & Material Of My Roof Matter When Installing Solar?

If you’re interested in installing a solar panel system on your home or business, you might be wondering if your roof is suitable for a solar panel installation. While solar panels can be installed on most roof types, the installation process can vary depending on your roof material, the age of your roof and its current condition.

Let’s explore the different types of roofs that are suitable for solar panels and the unique installation process for each one. Whether you have a flat or pitched roof, shingles or tiles, we’ll provide you with the information you need to make the best choice for your solar installation.

The Best Roofs for Solar Panels: What Are the Different Roof Types You Can Install Solar Panels On?

Solar panels can be installed on most roof types and on a wide range of roof materials, including:

  • Asphalt shingles
  • Clay tiles
  • Slate tiles
  • Concrete
  • Rubber
  • Wood
  • Metal

However, the installation process will vary based on your roof’s material and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Keep in mind that while installation may be possible on your roof type, some contractors may prefer not to install on certain roof materials for a variety of reasons. It is important to verify with the contractor prior to booking an appointment if your roof type is one they can and will install on. In this section, we’ll discuss the unique installation process for each roof type so you know what to expect during your solar installation.

Solar Panel Installations on Tile and Shingle Roofs

If you have a tile or shingle roof, you might think installing solar panels will be challenging. However, solar racking companies and installers have developed smart and safe methods for installing solar panels on these types of roofs. With the right approach and installation process, you can have solar panels on your tiled or shingled roof in no time.

Can You Install Solar Panels on Asphalt Shingle Roofs?

Installing solar panels on asphalt shingle roofs is a common and straightforward process since it’s one of the most popular roof materials. Solar installers will drill studs into the roof and attach panel mounts at those locations. They then seal the space around the brackets and add flashing, which is a metal plate used to prevent water infiltration.

Can You Install Solar Panels on Clay Tile Roofs?

Clay tiles are a classic roofing material that can add beauty and value to your home, but the unique design can make installing solar panels on these roofs pricey because of the extra labor needed.

While it may be a more labor-intensive process than on other roof types, experienced solar installers have developed smart techniques for this type of solar installation. To secure solar panel racking, installers typically remove clay tiles at the points where they need to attach racking feet, then drill metal hooks and flashing into the roof. They’ll then replace the tiles and adjust the mounting feet to fit securely under the tiles.

Depending on the exact shape and dimensions of your clay tiles, your installer may need to purchase or create customized hooks and flashing to fit your roof. Companies like SnapNrack offer specialized mounting inserts for all tile types.

Additionally, some installers might replace the original tile with a new metal version, combining the tile, mounting foot, and flashing into one piece of equipment. Regardless of the approach, your solar installer will work to ensure your clay tile roof is the perfect foundation for your new solar system.

Can You Install Solar Panels on Slate and Concrete Tile Roofs?

Slate and concrete tile roofs might seem like a challenge for solar panel installations, but they work just as well as other roofing materials. Although installing solar panels on these materials requires a bit more work than on an asphalt shingle roof, it’s still very doable for experienced solar installers. 

Your solar installers will remove and replace the tiles during installation to ensure proper mounting of the panels. In some cases, installers might drill through the tiles themselves, but it’s more common to replace them with a mounting foot and flashing due to the brittleness of slate and concrete.

Installing Solar Panels on Other Roof Types

Not all roofs are made of tile, so it’s important to know that solar panels can be mounted on more than just tiled roofs. Solar panel installations are common on a wide range of roof materials, including concrete, rubber, and wood.

In this section, we’ll discuss how solar panels can be safely and effectively installed on these other roof materials and the installation process for each.

Can You Install Solar Panels on Flat Concrete and Rubber Roofs?

While some homes and commercial buildings have a flat concrete or rubber roof, they can still support a solar panel system. Since flat roofs require panels to be tilted toward the sun for optimal production, solar installers use slanted metal racking to prop up the panels.

In many cases, a ballast system is used instead of standard penetration mounting, which avoids the need to attach the system to the roof. A ballast system is simply a weighted racking setup that holds the panels in place. If drilling is necessary for installation, the holes are small and sealed properly to avoid roof damage or leaks.

Can You Install Solar Panels on Wooden Roofs?

Installing solar panels on a wooden roof is a popular option for many homeowners and the process is similar to an asphalt shingle roof. The installer will drill into a roof stud and place flashing underneath the wood pieces to prevent any leaks. Wooden shingles can be brittle, so the installer will need to take extra precautions to avoid cracking or damaging any parts of your roof during installation.

Can You Install Solar Panels on Metal Roofs?

Metal roofs are a great option for solar panels and depending on the type of metal roof you have, the installation process may differ. With standing seam metal roofs, your solar installer can simply clamp the panel mounts onto the raised seams without drilling holes. 

If you have a corrugated metal roof, your installer will need to drill holes to secure the mounts, but this won’t damage your roof. Just like with other roof types, waterproofing sealant is used to prevent any moisture from penetrating through over the lifetime of your solar panel system.

If My Roof is Older, Should I Replace it Before I Go Solar?

When considering whether to install solar panels on an older roof, homeowners often ask if they should replace their roof first. The answer depends on the age and condition of your roof.

During your solar consultation, we’ll inspect your roof and give you an idea of how much life it has left. Even if your roof only has 10-15 years of life left, it may still be worth installing solar panels now because most systems have a 25 to 30-year lifespan and pay for themselves within 5 to 7 years. 

If you need to move and reinstall your solar system down the line, it will still save you more in the long run to install your system now rather than waiting to replace your roof because of the monthly savings generated from your panels.

That being said, the age and quality of your roof’s material are critical factors to ensure your roof is watertight after installation. So if it turns out your roof does need to be replaced within the next few years, it’s a better investment to replace your roof first before installing solar panels.

Some homeowners also have concerns about the added weight of solar panels, but most installations only add about 2.2 pounds per square foot. If your roof is well-built and up to code, you shouldn’t have any problems installing a solar system on it.

Solar Panels Work on Many Different Roof Types

No matter what type of roof you have – tiled, flat, wooden, and more – installing a solar power system can reduce your monthly electric bills and make your home more energy-efficient. The key is to work with an experienced solar installer who can assess your roof’s condition and recommend the best installation method for your home or business. 

If you’re ready to save money and power your home with clean, reliable energy, contact us today to see if your roof qualifies for solar and book your free solar consultation.

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