Have you considered a solar roof for your home? If so, find out if your roof is ready to take on the benefits of solar! Erin Vaughn of Modernize, shares how you can get your roof ready for solar.
An installation on a faulty surface could leave you with a damaged or even collapsed roof—and while this event is very rare, it’s definitely enough to give you pause when you’re investigating a solar installation. Here’s how you can get your roof in tip-top shape before you purchase a solar energy system.
How Old Is Your Roof?
If you’ve been putting off a new roof, the time to replace is definitely before you go solar. In fact, quality installers will roll a roof inspection into your installation, and generally make recommendations before they put down a single panel.
Even if they don’t recommend a complete tear off, if your roof is getting a little bit over the hill, it’s a good idea to go ahead and replace before you schedule your install. If your roof is nearing the end of its typical ten-year lifespan, your system will have to be dismantled and reassembled before and after the reroof, adding an additional expense to the $5,000 dollars or more demanded by an average roofing replacement project. Since you’ll need to reroof eventually anyway, you’ll be saving yourself money if you go ahead and replace now—especially if your roof is due.
Meanwhile, once you have your panels in place, they’ll help shield your roof from UV breakdown and damage from weather events. So your next roof may last longer, too!
Your Roof May Have to Meet Fire Safety Regulations
Some local jurisdictions have connection requirements that dictate how your installer can set up your panels. As far as your roof goes, they may necessitate certain adjustments to ensure you have the proper escape access or ventilation.
Your installer should be well versed in the safety regulations for your area—if they exist, since not every state has them—and he or she should be able to tell you if you need special work to get your installation going.
Older Roofs May Have Trouble Withstanding the Weight of Solar Panels
Most solar installations aren’t what you’d call heavy, weighing in somewhere between 30 to 50 pounds. Your average roof is more than equipped to handle that kind of load, especially if your home was built in any time after the 1970s. Prior to that, builders often used slimmer, flimsier plywood for roof decking than the ½” or ⅝” material that is considered standard today.
While it generally shouldn’t be a problem, if your roof surface bounces easily when an installer walks on it, you may need more than your average reshingling. A total replacement of your home’s sheathing might be in order.
Your Roof’s Orientation, Location, Surface Area, and Shading Play a Part in Productivity
A lot of homeowners find predicting their roof’s real solar potential to be one of the most difficult parts of budgeting for solar panels. That’s because it’s actually a pretty complicated formula that involves your the direction your home faces (otherwise known as your roof’s orientation), the angle of your roof, your location and climate, and the tree coverage surrounding your home.
As a general guideline, however, you can keep the following points in mind. South-facing roofs typically see much high production levels than those due north, since they receive the largest portion of the sun’s daily light.
The angle of your roof also plays a significant role in generation numbers. It depends on your home’s latitude, of course, but typically roofs that measure between 30 to 45 degrees demonstrate the best production. In fact, according to industry findings, south-facing panels installed at a 30-degree angle generate the most electricity.
If you’re looking for a more precise estimate, your solar contractor should be able to get you some idea of your potential after they perform a rooftop analysis. Or, you can use a solar calculator to get a sense of your home’s averages before you even speak to a solar installer. The more you get to know your roof’s particulars, the more you can predict your real solar costs—and benefits!
About the Writer
Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner. She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.