If you are thinking of installing solar panels in your home and you plan to do it yourself you should know how to fix solar panels on the roof.
A large part of the budget of a solar system is taken by the installation of the same.
How to install a solar panel on the roof ?
It’s ironic that the best place for solar panels (rooftops) is also the most difficult place to install them.
For the installation of solar panels you need a firm and safe place, without shade and facing the sun, and the roofs adapt very well.
But going up there can be painful, and paneling the ceiling means drilling huge bolts into the joists.
Additionally, due to the huge variation in roofing materials and construction techniques, the solar industry has had to invent many different methods of installing mounting hardware.
Solar panels on roofs: How to install solar panels
When installing solar panels on the roof you should know that if your roof is covered with clay tiles, asphalt composite tiles, or cedar tiles, you can find an installer who will use the correct brackets for your roof:
How to install solar panels
Solar Panel Roof: General Information on Solar Panel Installation
Solar panels are designed to be easily and durably installed on racks that are attached to roof brackets.
The mounts need to be drilled into your roof joists, but not because the panels are heavy. Instead, building codes call for “backup” protection.
Basically there is much more danger of panels trapping air like a candle and exploding on the roof than when they weigh too much and push the roof.
If they are bolted to the rafters, they are attached to the infrastructure of your house, and there are no worries.
Solar panels on roofs: Pierce the roofs, right?
The installation of solar panels on the roof always brings a concern that is reasonable fear on the penetration of the roof of solar installations is definitely one of the major concerns of people who are serious about installing solar panels, so just clear the air.
Yes, almost all solar installations will involve the installation of giant screws in your beams, like this screw:
HOW THE SOLAR PANELS ARE FIXED ON THE CEILING
Unless you have a permanently sewn metal roof, the mounting system will use bolts similar to this.
To prevent water damage, the bolt attachment will be surrounded by flashing, which is a special metal or plastic protection that slides under the surrounding shingles to prevent water from entering.
The flashing will be sealed with tar or undercoat and the bolt hole will also be filled with long lasting sealant.
Regardless, if you need to remove panels to replace or repair your roof, call a NABCEP-certified solar installer to get the job done right.
If you have a PPA or lease with an installer, check their contract to see if they have any rules about who can do the work or if they will do it for you. Panels are your property after all.
Here’s a little more about mounting solar panels on each type of solar panel roof :
Solar panels tiles: Solar installations for tile roofs
How Solar Panels Are Attached To The Roof Installing solar panels on most tile roofs works the same way: remove one or three tiles, attach the hook and flashing, remove the tiles from the spot and replace the tiles where they were.
That is true for concrete, clay, and slate. The tools used vary by type, but not by much.
Spanish tile roofs are the most expensive to install solar panels.
The reason is that the installers have no choice but to step on them and inevitably break some of the tiles.
The homeowner must have additional tiles lying around, or the installers must be able to find a match before they can be replaced.
There is also additional time spent both piercing them and carefully stepping on them.
These days, however, solar installers have gotten pretty good at working with tile roofs. Just make sure you get something in writing before starting the job, to make sure your insurance or warranty covers any damage to your roof.
As we said earlier, installation practices vary depending on the roofing material. Here’s an idea of ??the unique challenges for each:
Clay or stone tile roofs sometimes require additional labor to remove tiles, install brackets and flashing, and cut or groove the tiles so they do not come into contact with the mounting hardware.
Wood shake roofs are easier to cut / drill, but require flashing that extends beyond the shingles higher on the roof
Asphalt composite shingles are easy to work with, as long as the installer can find the joists
Straight-seam metal roofs are the easiest as they do not require roof penetration as solar mounting clamps can be attached to the seams
What happens when I need to replace my roof?
This is another great concern that people have, and not without reason. Replacing a roof is expensive, and having to remove solar panels before doing so (and reinstalling afterwards) is a big deal, right?
Well, a bit, so be sure to contact a roofing specialist before you begin.
It costs about $ 1,000 (could be less or more depending on the size of the installation) to remove the existing panels and let a roofer do his thing and then put them back.
And while it might be wise to wait to install solar power if you plan to replace your roof in the next few years, it would be best to replace your roof sooner, and switch to solar before the federal solar tax credit expires.
Installing tile hooks for solar panels
Although the picture above shows a mosaic hook installed under the S-shaped tiles, but the installation method is very similar for other types of tile roofs.
One way to avoid the need to cut or grind the tile is to use tile replacement brackets, which take the place of the tile under which the mount is attached to the ceiling.
Solar supports for beaten wood roofs
Wood shake shingles are a fun way to cover a roof, and they work pretty well too … until you start poking holes in them.
Solar installers need to be especially careful when working with shaking roofs, because the shake pieces can be fragile, but the actual installation of the brackets is not that complicated.
Almost all shake roofs are done the same way, with layers of subfloor between the rows of shakes. That means an installer only needs to flash under the previous underlayment layer and ensure a good seal. The image above shows what a properly seated flash looks like as it spreads under the rows of shakes.
Solar mounts for asphalt composite roofs
How are solar panels attached to the roof ? Asphalt composite roofs are popular. Hell, you probably already have one in your head.
They are relatively inexpensive, simple in construction, and generally very durable. That makes them a great surface on which to install solar panels. As long as the installation is successful.
Mounting solar panels on asphalt shingles is similar to mounting below the cedar shake, in that the installer intermittently insert under the previous layers of shingles to maintain watertightness, then seal the hole in which they are screwed in those giant bolts. When done right, it looks like the picture above.
When done wrong, it looks like this:
That sealant can hold up for 25 or 30 years up there, or at least as long as you need it before re-roofing in a decade, but it’s ugly and will likely void a roofers warranty.
Waterproof Seam Metal Roof Solar Brackets
The tightly sewn metal ceilings are impressive . They look good, are airtight, and last 50 years without much trouble. This prevents roof leaks after installing solar panels
Oh, and those seams are the perfect place to attach sun mounts, without drilling into the roof.
Longevity and ease of use make permanently sewn metal roofs the perfect roof for solar panels.
Once your panels are up, aside from the occasional cleaning, you probably won’t have to worry too much for decades to come.
And since something has to be done on the roof, the panels are easier to remove and replace than any other type of roof.
On top of all that, the spaces between the seams act as air circulation channels, making your panels more effective at cooling them during the day.
The future: Solar tiles
Now is the time to look ahead. Tesla has that nice tiled solar panel sunroof, which means your solar panels will become your roof.
They are made of glass designed to look like clay, cement, or clay tiles:
But solar shingles are better for new construction. Even if you are replacing your existing roof, the substrate may not be ideal for Tesla tile, and the modernization will likely add thousands to the cost.
Another promising invention is a unique type of weighted solar shelf that attaches to sloping roofs, like a lizard’s feet attaching to a window. The installation uses heavy frames with a special type of polymer that clings more tightly to the roof surface as pressure (from panels or wind) increases.
Therefore, the future of solar panel installation on roofs could be boltless. Or it could be sunroofs. Or it might not be either.
It’s too early to tell, and it’s almost always best to start saving money on energy today.