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The Best Roof for Solar Panels – 5 Things To Consider | DroneQuote

By DroneQuote | Posted January 30, 2020

The Best Roof for Solar Panels - 5 Things To Consider.

Clay tile roof solar installation.

The Best Roof for Solar Panels – 5 Things To Consider

Reading Time: 5 Minutes.

If you’ve considered putting solar then surely at one point or another you’ve thought about the best roof for solar panels. You are correct to think that there some things that make one roof section better than another for putting on panels, though really, the best roof for panels really depends a lot more on the site conditions as a whole than simply one thing over another. In this article, you will learn more about what makes one roof section over another as the best roof for solar.

  1. Solar Friendly Space – Do you mind seeing the panels and what kind of physical obstructions are there.
  2. Direction & Pitch – Is the direction of a roof section suitable for efficient output?
  3. Condition & Age – Is the roof condition and age suitable for solar panels?
  4. Build Materials – How does your build material impact the installation?
  5. Light Obstructions – is there any shade to be mindful of?

Along with covering these things, we’ll also include photographs for you to have a better understanding of how the roof’s details play a big part when installing solar panels.

#1 The Best Roof for Solar Panels – Solar Friendly Space.

The Best Roof for Solar Panels - Solar Friendly Space

Garage & House Make The Best Roof for Solar Panels

When we say “solar-friendly space” we mean a few things by that. One of the first things that make space on your roof friendly for panels is how you as a homeowner feel about seeing them. If you are of the mind that solar panels are not visually appealing, then you may not want to see them installed on visible parts of your roof. While this may not be an issue in a lot of cases, there are times when the best location on a particular roof is also a place where the homeowner does not want to see the panels installed.

Another characteristic that makes for solar-friendly space is a roof that has a clear installation area where heating and air vents do not become obstructions. Sometimes vents can be worked around or literally worked over, other times vents cannot be rerouted or modified. If a vent cannot be worked around, it may cost the place of a solar panel in what would otherwise be the best place for panels on the given roof.

If you have any objections or concerns about specific solar panel placement on your roof or where you would prefer to avoid installation, please don’t hesitate to share that with the companies you interview. DroneQuote offers our before-and-after surveys so that you can have a very clear picture of the condition of your roof and also of what took place on the roof after installation.

#2 The Best Roof for Solar Panels – Direction & Pitch.

One of the characteristics that make the best roof for solar panels is the direction the roof is facing, also known as orientation. The most efficient orientation of a roof provides for the highest output of electricity which may mean a potentially lower overall cost for the solar panel system. If you happen to live in North America the ideal roof orientation or direction is somewhere in the neighborhood of 180° south, depending on where exactly you live. 

Another important thing to consider about roof orientation is if you live in an area with time of use rates. Generally speaking, time of use rates cause west-facing roofs to be ideal for producing electricity when it’s worth a higher value based on the net energy metering rates.

If you happen to have a flat roof, then you may be in luck as there is sometimes more orientation flexibility with a flat roof.

#3 The Best Roof for Solar Panels – Condition & Age.

The Best Roof for Solar Panels - Condition & Age of flat roof. Roof is in poor condition for solar installation without replacement.

Flat roof condition survey before solar panels.

OK so you’ve identified the roof you want to install on, you’ve determined that you have an excellent orientation, now it’s time to consider the condition of that roof.

Let me start by saying that this is a time when I ask that you are honest with yourself about the condition and age of the roof as it stands today. The best roof for solar panels is a roof that is in newer condition. The roof doesn’t have to be brand-spanking new, but the newer the better. So what this means for you is that if you know your roof is nearing end-of-life then you should also anticipate some level of work required to restore the roof to the best condition for installing solar.

The Best Roof for Solar Panels - Condition & Age. Composite shingles show end of life and are in poor condition. This is a roof that should be replaced before installing solar panels.

Composite shingles condition survey for solar panels.

Maybe you don’t know the condition of your roof if so then it is safe to go by the date your home was built and how long you’ve lived in it. If your home was built in 88 and you lived in it 20 years you can safely assume the roof is original to the house. Sometimes homeowners are already aware that they want to put on the new roof at the same time they install solar. This happens to be the best time when you can put a new roof on your house because your solar panels are going to last just as long as a new roof So it only makes sense that both the new roof and the new panels go on at the same time if possible.

If you have a newer roof that was built in the last five years and chances are your roof is in a better condition for solar. Either way, when you move forward with the solar installer there should be a site survey conducted to determine the condition of the roof. What DroneQuote does that’s so different for solar and roofing customers is that we offer ultra high definition drone surveys in addition to the site survey our partner installers conduct. This gives you, the homeowner a level of understanding and appreciation for the investment of a new roof and so or solar.

#4 The Best Roof for Solar Panels – Roof Build Materials.

The material of which a roof is made of is very important when you’re considering solar for your home. Some roofing materials are easier to work with than others, so next up we’ll tell you what to expect based on common roof materials on which solar panels are installed.

Composition Shingle Roofs – A very common roof material, composition shingles allow for very easy and long-lasting installation especially if the existing roof is already in good condition. Installing solar on this kind of roof material is typically the easiest and fastest of other roof materials.

Concrete Tile Roofs – This roofing material is a popular choice throughout many homes. These tiles are made of concrete and sometimes made to look like clay tile or terra-cotta but without being as fragile or prone to breaking. In most cases, concrete tile roofs are easy to install solar on.

Clay Tile Roofs – Installing solar on clay tile roofs often times does require an additional scope of work. First, we’ll explain that clay tile roofs are extremely fragile. They don’t take too well to people walking on them and as such, they are easily broken, even when utmost caution is used to walk on them. As a result, there is a process known as “picture framing“.
This process involves removing all the tiles, removing the existing underlayment down to the wood, and putting in a composition shingle roof on which solar panels are installed. From there, tiles are placed around the panels to look as if though they go throughout the entire span of the roof, thus, the picture framing name.
While this is not always the case with every single clay tile roof it is more often times the rule than the exception if a homeowner wants to job done right.

The Best Roof for Solar Panels – Roof Build Materials - clay tile solar panel installation process. Steps to install solar panels on a clay tile roof known as picture framing.

Solar panel installation steps on clay tile roof known as “picture framing”.

Flat Roofs – The nice thing about flat roofs for solar is that you tend to have a little bit more room to improve the orientation of the panels. Like with clay tile roofs, flat roofing has additional costs associated with this kind of roof material. Certain kinds of flat roof materials like rolled composition may make it possible to use ballasted racking systems to install solar panels.

The Best Roof for Solar Panels – Roof Build Materials Standing seam metal roof vs corrugated metal.

Standing seam LEFT, Corrugated RIGHT.

Metal Roofs – Some metal roofs are easy and safe to install solar panels on others not so much. Take for example corrugated metal roofs which have the little waves in the middle, those kinds of roofs typically don’t allow for installing solar. There is however one kind of roof made of metal that is almost made for Solar, this roof would be a standing seam metal roof, this roof allows for easy installation with almost literally zero penetrations.

#5 The Best Roof for Solar Panels – Light Obstructions

The Best Roof for Solar Panels - Light Obstructions. Solar panels installed in a shaded location.

Shaded solar panels on the roof.

When it comes to light obstructions, that is another way of saying shade, but whatever you call it, it can make or break the financials of solar panel installation. Sometimes solar panels are shaded by trees or by a structure of the on the home itself or by structures of neighboring properties. The easiest shade to deal with is from the vegetation on-site property.

If the shade on panels is from a structure or some sort of vegetation that cannot be altered your solar consultant will more than likely bring this to your attention or if you’re speaking to a DroneQuote representative it will absolutely be brought to your attention. DroneQuote uses a sophisticated software called Aurora Solar which allows us to accurately account for the effect of shade on electricity production.

Ideally, the best roof for panels is not shaded throughout the day. The drone surveys conducted by DroneQuote will give the homeowner a very good picture, literally, of how shade can factor into their solar installation.

The Best Roof for Solar Panels – How Your Roof Measures Up 

Knowing how all these different variables factor into making the best roof for solar panels you can go and look at your own roof and see how it measures up. With today’s technology, it is easier than ever to build an aesthetically pleasing system that functions at high capacity even if some limitations may occur. DroneQuote uses the latest drone technology and web tech to design multiple quotes from various solar installers in your area. Get started for free with DroneQuote and get solar and roofing the smart way.

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