Have you ever looked at your roof and wondered, is it a good roof for solar? Turns out that is a common question. First thing to consider is whether or not it is in good enough shape for solar. We recommend that roofs are replaced if they are older than 15 years old. If it is older than 15 years, it is likely that we would install panels on your roof and then you would have to have us take them down to get your roof replaced, and then put back up again. To avoid that hassle, get your roof replaced beforehand. If you do not know the age of your roof because you are new to the house see if you can contact the previous owners to ask, or have a home inspector come out to give you a better idea. If you see shingles cracking, lifting up, have moss or other growth on it, then it is likely you will need your roof replaced.
If we were to recommend any roofing material it would be metal roofs. The 15 -year rule of thumb does not apply to metal roofs. They are sturdy and can last much longer than your typical shingle roof. For flat roofs you should make sure the structure is sturdy and make sure the TPO is intact . Then you will be good for solar!
What direction does it have to face?
Another great question! The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. It swoops to the south to get from the east to the west. This means that your roof should face one of those directions with south being the optimal direction because the sun will hit it most throughout the day. The energy from the sun is strongest between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. In the solar world we call this the “solar window.” When the solar radiation is strongest, your solar panels produce the most energy. So observe your roof from the south, east, and west side to see if the sun hits in just the right places. Note that if your panels are on the east side of your home you will get the most production in the morning, and if your panels are on the west side of your home you will get the most production in the afternoon.
You can check to see if your roof gets enough sun through Google’s Project Sunroof.
Trees and Dormers/Other Obstructions
The final thing you should consider would be trees and dormers. Even if you have the perfect south facing roof if there are a bunch of trees to the south of you it would be unwise to install solar on that roof. You will just not produce that much energy, as you have less sunlight. Another roof or a ground mounted system would suit your situation better. The other consideration you should factor into your decision about solar is whether you have the space for solar. The typical panel is about 5.5 ft tall and 3 ft wide. You will also need space on the side of your array so a person could walk up on your roof safely. If you have several dormers on your south, east, or west facing roof you may not have much room to place panels unless it is on top of your dormers.
This is a lot to process, and it can get quite confusing. If you would like your roof professionally assessed we would be happy to do that for you. We can pull up your house on our maps and give you our take on it. If we think your roof is usable we can put together a free design for you.