Can you have solar panels on a flat roof? The short answer is yes. Most people are used to seeing solar panels installed on a pitched roof, but solar panels can be installed and function on flat roofs as well. There are several considerations to keep in mind when it comes to solar panels on a flat roof. Does your home or business has a flat roof and you’re wanting solar panels installed? Atlasta Solar is here to uncover what you need to know about flat roof solar panel systems.
Are Solar Panels Just As Effective On A Flat Roof?
When installed optimally, solar panels on a flat roof can be just as effective as a solar system on a sloped roof. Whenever we install a solar array (a set of solar panels), Atlasta Solar always considers several factors. For example, we assess:
· angle of the roof
· sources of shade (such as buildings, trees, vegetation, etc.)
We know how to incorporate roof slope and orientation into solar panel designs and layouts. For example, we know how to orient panels to fully optimize sunlight exposure in any direction, including northern-facing surfaces.
Installing A Flat Roof Solar System
In general, flat roofs allow for easier installation and solar panel design. Why? Flat roofs are more accessible than sloped roofs.
We’ll assess the condition of your roof and recommend if any repairs or replacement is necessary before installing any panels.
Panel Spacing and Weight
If your roof is in ideal condition, then we consider how the panels will fit on your flat roof, and how they should be spaced, so the panels don’t shade one another. The amount and type of panels will be determined by your property’s energy needs.
We also consider the weight of a solar system on a roof, so the panels safely bear their weight upon a surface.
Solar Panel Tilt
Solar panels on flat roofs are usually installed with a tilt. Why? To optimize capturing enough sunlight and to aid in keeping panels clean. For example, a tilt as slight as 3 to 4 degrees can help rain wash away dirt and debris. In the northern hemisphere, solar panels ideally should be installed facing south, for greatest energy production. The benefit of flat roofs is that solar panels can be oriented to face south or west, and can also be aligned with the region’s latitude.
Another option is automatic panels, which adjust their angle according to the sun’s position.
Fixed Or Free Standing Set Up
Solar systems are secured directly to your flat roof using one of two ways:
Fixed system: this method involves drilling into the roof and brackets to secure the mounting frame.
Ballast system: this means adding weight to the structure. The mounting frame fits into concrete ballasts, or heavy slabs, securing the panels against stormy, windy weather.
Flat-roof solar systems usually need more cleaning than panels on a slanted roof. This is especially true for panels installed without an angle on flat roofs. Dirt accumulates more easily and can noticeably decrease solar output.
How do you know when to clean your solar panels? Simply clean your solar panels whenever they are dirty. Even better, watch your energy bills before and after cleaning. To safely clean your solar panels, always power off the system first, and refer to your manufacturer’s manual on how to clean your panels. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove any loose debris, then rinse the panels with a hose or water-fed brush—avoid using high pressure.
Be Aware of Pooling
Pitched roofs encourage water drainage off and away from the property. Flat roofs however are liable to pooling, or water and moisture collecting on the surface. This can occur with or without a solar array. If you have a solar system on your flat roof, be extra aware of pooling, as water can severely damage the system and your roof. Aside from capturing more sunlight, tilted panels encourage water drainage.
FAQs About Flat Roof Solar Systems
Here are some frequently asked questions about solar panels on flat roof.
Do solar panels have to be tilted on a flat roof?
Not necessarily, though it’s recommended that they be tilted. Titled solar panels optimize energy production and help keep the panels cleaner.
Are solar panels on flat roofs high maintenance?
As mentioned before, panels on flat roofs need more cleaning than panels on a sloped roof. However, solar panels are relatively easy to clean, and flat roofs are easier and safer to access than pitched roofs. To help reduce dirt accumulation, have your panels installed at a tilt. Keep in mind this simple rule of thumb: the cleaner your solar panels are, the higher the energy production.
Are there different kinds of solar panels, and which should be installed on a flat roof?
Most solar panels fall into three types, each of which can be installed on a flat roof:
Monocrystalline: Monocrystalline panels are made of a single large silicon crystal and are the most efficient in generating energy. As a result, they are usually the most expensive type of panel.
Ideal For: Individuals who want the highest power yield possible, and/ or have limited roof space.
Polycrystalline: Polycrystalline panels consist of several smaller silicon crystals. These are the most common type of solar panel. These panels produce about 1% less power than monocrystalline panels, but are still reliable.
Ideal For: Individuals who want reliable performance but also want to save on cost.
Amorphous: Also known as a thin panel, amorphous panels are composed of silicon. These panels are the most affordable option and the easiest to install. However, amorphous panels have the lowest power yield of the three solar panel types. As a result, they need three times the roof space of monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels, to reach the same power yield. Amorphous panels are often considered the most attractive solar panel, with their all-black, sleek design.
Ideal For: Individuals who want the most cost-friendly option for solar panels. However, you must have plenty of roof space to install thin panels.
Atlasta Solar Can Install Solar Panels On Your Flat Roof
Don’t let a flat roof dissuade you from having a solar system installed. At Atlasta Solar we consider all aspects of your roof and energy needs to optimize solar panel energy production. We will provide you with the best solar system for your home or business, contact us at 979-248-0057.