Roofs: Angled for Solar!

Each day more and more are taking advantage of rooftop solar.  With the defeat of Amendment 1, Floridians are now poised more than ever to take advantage of solar.  More solar means more roofs, and with a population of approximately 20 million, Florida has a lot of roofs.
While each roof is different and presents installers with exclusive issues, it is important for consumers to know how their roof may affect solar and vice versa.  Some characteristics of roofs may include type, age, orientation, slope, and space (area).  All of these characteristics impact a solar installation to varying degrees.  Understandably, it is important that your installer is knowledgeable and experienced with diverse roofs and roofing components.
Tile Roof


The types of roofs in Florida run the gamut.  Three of the most common roof material types are metal, tile, and asphalt shingle.  Asphalt shingle roofs are the most common and are generally the easiest to work with regarding solar installations.  Tile roofs, while not as common as asphalt shingle roofs, generally present an installer a slightly more difficult task.  As Heath Galloway, installation practices manager, Sungevity, Oakland, California attests:
“Everyone who has installed on tile roofs knows that the biggest installation challenge is getting around on them without breaking more tiles than necessary. Another big challenge is waterproofing the mounting penetrations at the underlayment level. We use mounting technologies that ensure the flashing of the underlayment penetration will last for decades and through wide temperature differentials.”
Tile roofs are usually concrete or tile.  The installation process is generally more time consuming and expensive than asphalt shingles, although new mounting systems and improved techniques are making installations cheaper and more efficient.  Tile roofs also generally dissipate tough Florida heat better than shingle roofs, allowing for lower air conditioning usage.
Although metal roofs are not as common in Florida as tile and asphalt shingle roofs, they are gaining popularity, and with good reason.  Metal Roofs, such as corrugated or standing seam, are generally more durable and energy efficient than shingle or tile.  The Tampa Bay Times offers several advantages of metal roofs in this article.
Various other roof materials exist such as shakes.  Roofs may come in many shapes too, such as flat, hipped, cross-hopped, gabled, and cross-gabled.
Metal roof


Many solar panels have warranties over 20 years and it is important for a roof to exhibit structural integrity during the solar array’s lifetime.  Most rooftop solar panels weigh between 4-5 pounds per square foot.  Racking components can only go as far as the roof goes.  Being said, if a roof is older than 10 years before a solar installation, a new roof or repairs should be considered.  During a site survey, an installer will generally ask about the roof’s age and condition.  Regarding tile roofs, the underlayment should be discussed as well, as many roofing contractors use underlayment that has a shorter lifespan than the tile.


The Azimuth angle is the angle at which your roof faces.  The Azimuth angle also determines the amount of sun panels may receive.  By and large, true south facing roofs with solar panels are accepted as the most efficient, although some evidence suggests west and southwest rooftop solar orientation may be similarly efficient.  East and west orientations are also used in rooftop solar; however north orientations are generally avoided.  Qualified installers will analyze roof and panel orientation in relation with the sun in order to place panels optimally.
Flat roof, notice slight tilt of panels


A roof’s angle (slope and pitch) is significant in the installation process as well.  An installer will utilize vertical and horizontal (rise and run, respectively) measurements to determine panel angle and placement.  Most panels are attached flush to the angle of the roof, although they may be tilted in order to achieve optimum performance.  According to Energy Sage,
“Ideally, a fixed, roof-mounted solar energy system should be at an angle that is equal to the latitude of the location where it is installed. However, pitch angles between 30 and 45 degrees will work well in most situations. Overall, the angle of your rooftop has less impact on solar panel performance than the direction your roof faces.”
For perspective, a 7:12 slope is a rather steep residential roof that equates to 30.5 degrees, further ensuring most homes are more than eligible for optimum performance.


Another factor installers and customers must consider is roof space.  This includes the roof area, roof lines, and obstructions.  Vents and skylights pose obstructions, and jurisdiction building codes must be followed regarding placement of panels near roof lines and edges.  Several satellite programs may provide roof images and space available, however a first-hand site survey by the installer will yield more accurate results.


Roofs are a vital component in rooftop solar.  Above are just a few factors that come in to play when considering an installation, and many other factors such as racking components and strategies may be discussed.  As an added bonus, solar panels even reinforce structural integrity as well as protecting the roof from the elements.
 Additionally, Florida residents must also acknowledge that electrical and building permitting is required before installation.  With over 30 years of combined industry and NABCEP Certified Installer experience, Bay Area Solar Solutions LLC, has met virtually every type of roof with a successful install.  And with the defeat of Amendment 1, Floridians are ready to cover more roofs now!


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1934432_1530422373920628_7435680489633132710_nNeed more information on going green and ready to take the next step? We are here for you at Bay Area Solar Solutions LLC, where your solar needs come first!


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