The best place to install your solar panels is on the roof. Rooftop solar PV panels or solar shingles get more access to the sunlight in that position, but solar installation is costly.
Installing the solar panels yourself can be a more cost-effective option, but you will still need to hire someone to complete the installation yourself for the electric work and know-how.
Whether you are looking to place a solar system on your own or are just curious about the process of installing panels, you have come to the right place. This article teaches how to install solar panels on the roof to maximize your solar power.
Installing Solar Panels: What To Know Before?
Before jumping into the solar panel installation process, let’s generally talk about the installation process, such as the pros and cons of roof placement.
Pros Of Rooftop Solar Panel Placement
Placing solar panels on your roof is advantageous because it gives the most access to sunlight. In addition, because solar energy is required for panels to generate power in the first place, it makes sense to place the panels closest to the sky.
Plus, having solar panels installed on the roof typically results in less shading. If you were to place solar systems on the ground, trees, your home, and other items could diminish access to sunlight, resulting in less energy received and electricity produced.
Depending on how your roof is angled, you might be in good shape to lower your carbon footprint and utilize solar power without dealing with the eyesore of panels. Major plus!
Cons Of Rooftop Solar Panel Placement
Although there are many benefits to placing solar panels on your roof, there are some drawbacks as well.
Not all roofs are strong enough to deal with solar panels. Solar panels aren’t hefty, but they can weigh up to 2.7 pounds per square foot.
Confirm with a structural engineer to ensure that your roof can hold panels. If not, you are looking at serious structural integrity issues.
Another potential drawback to the rooftop placement is that solar panels are more susceptible to becoming damaged in harsh weather. Without covering, hail and other elemental factors can damage your expensive panels.
How Do You Install A Solar Panel On A Roof?
What You’ll Need
- Stud finder
- Drill bit
- Chalk line
- Tape measure
Step 1: Stanchion Placement
Begin by finding the stanchion placements. Stanchions are essentially giant screws that will keep the solar panels in place.
Determine where these giant screws go by looking at your home’s blueprint or using a stud finder. Either way, mark where the stanchions will go on rafters to ensure up-force doesn’t rip panels off the roof.
Use a drill to create holes in the rafters carefully. Then, place the stanchions in the hole.
Step 2: Further Secure And Seal Stanchions
Even if you think you screwed the racking system tightly enough, they probably need to be secured even more. Again, use steel bolts and an impact driver on the upper and lower aluminium rails for best results.
To ensure that your home’s thermal envelope is maintained, seal the screws as well. Then, again, you can use thermoseal roofing to get this job done.
Step 3: Ensure Rails Are Parallel
The rails are what will keep your solar panels on track. Make sure your upper and lower rails are parallel by measuring the diagonal distance between the two rails.
Begin at the top of the upper rail and measure to the bottom of the other rail. Measure this on both sides, almost like you are creating an imaginary X between the two rails.
If the two measurements are equal, your rails are parallel. If not, you need to adjust them to make them parallel.
Place the middle rail after you confirm that the two outer rails are parallel. This middle rail should be in alignment with the other two.
Step 4: Power
The fourth step involves bringing power to your solar panels. You will need to put wires in the panels and run them through the power inverter kits to create the conductor systems.
After that, install one of these power inverter kits under every panel. Remember to install a 6 gauge copper grounding wire into all of your inverters.
If you do all this correctly, the wire connections should seamlessly flow from one solar array to the next. But, of course, if you are uncomfortable performing the wiring, you can always contact a professional.
Step 5: Place The Panels
The last step is straightforward. Place the panels on the stanchions that were installed in steps one and two. Make sure that the plug connections are joined, and retaining clips screwed tightly.
You still need to finish the electrical work. Extend the wires from the panels to the electrical meter and use an electrical sub-panel.
What About Installing A Solar Panel On Other Types of Roofs
Above, we learned how to install solar shingles roofs; though shingled roofs are the most common, other types of roofs require slightly different installation.
For the most part, installing solar panels on a tile roof works the same way as a shingle roof. The main difference is that you will need to remove the tiles where the tile hooks and flashings will be attached. You can then replace the tiles, and installation can continue.
Spanish roofs can be more difficult for solar panel installation. This is because Spanish roofs are more delicate, and you can break tiles in the process. All broken tiles will need to be replaced.
Standing Seam Metal Roofs
In many ways, installing solar panels on standing seam metal roofs is actually very easy. You don’t need to drill holes since you can place a mounting clamp on the standing seam instead.
A metal roof is considered the best for solar panels since they allow aeration underneath the solar array, resulting in a more efficient panel.
Install flat roof solar systems just as you would the traditional systems. The process will probably be easier simply because you aren’t working on an incline.
Ground Mounted Panels
If roof mounts aren’t an option for you, you can mount them on the ground instead. This is a great choice if you have open space.
You will be able to control the direction and placement of the panels with ground mount systems, resulting in an easier installation process.
How Far Off The Roof Should Solar Panels Be?
Make sure to place solar panels at least 3 inches off your roof, but it is best to have a clearance between 4 and 6 inches.
Though this may sound like a minor issue, roof clearance is essential. Having space underneath the solar array will help it last longer.
How Do You Install Solar Panels On A Roof Without Drilling?
Although installing solar panels on a roof is difficult without drilling, it is possible to use solar panel mounts. Today, there are mounting systems for every roof.
For example, you can use a ballasted mounting solution on a flat roof. This mounting system uses weights or cinder blocks to fight against heavy wind loads but only works on a flat roof.
Standing Seam Metal Roofs
For standing seam metal roofs, avoid drilling entirely by using attachment clamps instead. Most solar panel installers would recommend this method over drilling when it comes to metal roofs anyways.
One of the more difficult roof types to install solar panels without drilling is the classic shingle house. However, certain mounting systems have come about to allow installation without any drilling.
For example, SolarPod has introduced new technology that allows you to mount your solar panels on any roof without drilling. They are considered especially beneficial for gabled houses that lacked this option before.
Why Should I Install A Solar Panel System?
Although a solar panel system installation can be a costly endeavour, it is certainly worth the effort.
A solar panel system can help the planet, whether it is on your roof or the ground. But, at the same time, it can make your electricity bill go down.
If you produce enough electricity, you could even potentially be paid for the energy you put back into the grid. It may be difficult to produce this energy, but it is possible for areas with high amounts of sunshine.
Another major benefit of installing a solar panel system is that you have much more energy independence. Although you will still be connected to the grid, you get to create your own energy, allowing a bit more control and independence over your electricity usage.
Should I use a ground mount solar system or rooftop solar?
Where you install your solar system will depend on your home and the area you live in. The goal is to place solar panel mounts and the solar panels themselves in an area where they can generate electricity in large amounts.
Generally speaking, using a solar panel racking system on the roof is often the best because it is closer to the ground and often has fewer obstructions, leading to a greater electrical supply.
However, ground mounts may be the proper placement if your roof is not suited to hold panels or you have a lot of open space on the ground. Ground mounts can lower the total cost in both labour costs and additional parts as well.
What If I Need A New Roof?
Get your roof updated before you place the panels for the best results. Once your solar panels are installed, you can get a new roof in the future, but you’ll have to remove the panels temporarily.
Even though installing a solar system for solar power can be costly, it is worth the effort. The actual installation process isn’t that difficult, and it doesn’t require too many tools either, just a measuring tape and potentially a drill.
Whether you have a tile roof or shingle roof, there are solar racking options for you. Some don’t even require you to drill holes, even on a shingle roof!
If you don’t feel confident installing the roof solar system yourself, you can always hire a solar installer to help you out or do the job for you. Just do what feels comfortable to you!
We hope you successfully get your roof solar panels installed!