What type of roof is best for solar panels?
If you’ve ever looked at the housing market, you may have noticed there’s a wide variety of homes to choose from. There are single-family homes, townhomes, condos, manufactured homes, and more. For every different home you can imagine, there are about as many different roof types. And if you’ve been considering going solar, you may be wondering what type of roof is best for solar panels? The short answer? Your roof is the best roof for solar panels, no matter what type of roof you have. But if you’ve come here looking to learn a thing or two, keep reading to find out about: all the different types of roofs, how solar can be installed on each, and why solar panels don’t damage your roof when they’re installed by a professional solar installer with roofing experience. First, let’s go through all the different types of roofs out there and how solar is installed on each.
Installing Solar Panels on Many Types of Roofs
Installing solar panels on these different roof varieties necessitates different installation techniques, but experts can safely and efficiently install a brand new solar power system on any kind of residential or even commercial roof. First, let’s take a look at what it takes to install solar panels on each type of roofing material.
Wooden and Cedar Roof Tiles
Wooden and cedar roof tiles are common to older homes. Many homeowners with older homes might be asking themselves if they’re good candidates for solar power, and the good news is — they are. In order to install solar panels on wooden or cedar roof tiles, solar power installers will have to drill a stud into the tiles and insert flashing underneath the wooden or cedar roof tiles in order to prevent leaking. By installing solar panels in this manner, homeowners can rest easy, knowing that they can gain more energy efficiency and without concern for leakage.
Installing Solar on Clay Tile Roofs
In Southern California, many homes have traditional Spanish tiles on the roof. This is also a part of a Mediterranean trend in homebuilding, and traditionally these tiles are made of clay. As any homeowner with clay tiles knows, they are extremely fragile and can break very easily.
This is why when installing solar panels on a clay tile roof, experts take extra precautions. This means the experts will remove your clay tiles to mount racking feet, metal hooks and flashing directly onto the home’s roof. Then, new tiles will be inserted above these to conform to the roof’s aesthetics. In some cases, expert installers may place a new metal piece in its place instead.
Asphalt Shingles- the Most Common Type
The most common type of roof material is asphalt shingles. These affordable shingles are very popular with home builders. Because they are so common in residences, installing solar panels on asphalt shingles is easy and straightforward. Installers will typically drill studs, install panel mounts and flashing to prevent any water from creeping in.
Some homeowners have really artistic homes and use metal roofs. Installing solar panels on a metal roof isn’t as complicated as one would believe- it’s actually as easy as either clamping solar systems onto a raised metal seam or drill holes and add flashing to prevent any water damage.
Concrete Tiles or Rubber Roofs
Concrete tiles and rubber roofs are less common but are still found in multifamily units. In order to install solar panels on these roofs, solar power installation experts will install tilted or slanted metal racking in order to hold up the solar panels at the exact angle necessary to gather solar energy. Alternatively, a ballast system might be used as a weighted racking system to hold solar panels in place.
Does having solar installed damage your roof?
If you’re concerned about potential damage when getting solar panels installed on your home, you don’t need to worry about that when you choose the right installer. There should be no damage done to your roof in the process of upgrading your home to solar power.
This is why it’s especially important to choose an installer with many years of experience, especially with roofs. Unsure about how to choose the best installer in your area? Follow these simple guidelines:
- Expertise: Your solar installer should have expertise in the solar industry as well as experience in roofing, like ADT Solar, and our sister company, Buildpro. A company with expertise will have been open for more than a few years and have thousands of installations under their belt. Many companies subcontract their installation employees. Companies who have in-house installers are much more reliable and experienced.
- Credentials: A reputable solar installation company will have all of the necessary licenses, insurance policies and credentials needed for all areas they operate in. They should be listed on their website and easy to find. A company with all credentials will meet all of the state standards and is certified as a legitimate business.
- Track Record and Experience: The solar industry is growing and not many companies have decades of solar under their belt. Though, finding a company with a background in solar and years of experience is necessary. They should be able to discuss and show different installations and systems previously installed. They should have hundreds of reviews on their website and social media accounts.
- Reputation: Reading solar company reviews is a great place to start. Keep an eye out for companies that respond to their customer reviews and respond in a professional and timely manner. Companies who care about their customers will be helpful and thankful to their customers. Solar companies that have won solar awards and been named in the top of their industry are great companies to look into.
- Warranties: Warranties are a very important factor when considering solar installation companies. Many solar companies do not have reliable warranties. When buying an expensive system, it is important to know about the warranties and what the company will do for you if something goes wrong.
So, what type of roof is best for solar panels?
Yours! Regardless of the type of roof you have, solar panels can be installed on it. There are different techniques to installing solar panels on different types of roofs, but when you choose an expert in solar and roofing, you won’t have to worry.
Leave the work to the experts at ADT Solar, the top rated residential solar installer in the U.S., according to Solar Power World 2021, as well as a company that are experts in the field of roofing. Have a Solar Energy Specialist answer all your questions about solar panels and your roof.
If you’re ready to start, get a FREE solar quote and consultation:
Tara Grant. Content Director, ADT Solar
Tara has written for ADT Solar since 2020. She has over a decade of experience in marketing and content creation and holds a BS from UCLA and MFA from Antioch, Los Angeles.
Share the knowledge! Pass on what you learned here with your friends and followers so that we continue to share the good word of solar!
Guess where that house’s electricity is generated
From all the existing renewable energies, it seems that solar power is the one having the less difficulties in integrating seamlessly into everyday life, and becoming the alternative to the pervasive oil, coal or natural gas sources. Just a few days ago, we wrote about how the quantum leap in the development of treated glass capable of generating power from sunlight could improve energy management in buildings. In other words, a system which could make any ordinary glass-made object susceptible of producing its own energy. Go figure, from your car’s windshield to your living room’s table.
In fact, interdisciplinary collaboration is allowing many innovations to be implemented in fields that, beforehand, simply did not belong there. Such is the case with this project which, taking inspiration from the art of Kirigami, features adaptable and malleable solar panels.
But the field in which solar power feels really at home is in the construction industry. There are solar roads, buildings with solar Windows and, now, solar tiles as well: new materials leaving the factory with the gene of innovation attached.
Solar panels resembling clay tiles
Those who thought that tradition, rooted in old-fashioned ways and procedures, was irreconcilable with cutting-edge technology may have to reconsider their beliefs. These solar clay tiles, manufactured by a start-up by the name of Dyaqua, are capable of merging the best of both worlds: impregnated with the halo of history and the passage of time characteristic of the distinctive Brunelleschi Dome, they conceal under its rustic appearance solar panels capable of generating energy. These ground-breaking sneaks place them, undeniably, into the architecture and technological development of the XXI century, though at first glance nobody could notice.
But, how does it work exactly? The tile is a piece of clay into which several monocrystalline silicon cells capable of obtaining solar power have been incorporated. Over them is added a layer made of a material which is recyclable, non-toxic and seemingly opaque, though transparent to sunlight. In other words, it disguises the cells without interfering with solar energy production. According to its technical specifications, 223 tiles (15 m²) would be necessary to generate 1kWp.
The other good news is that this model can be applied to diverse construction materials, so the company plans to implement it into wood, stone, slate and concrete. In that case, we would be referring not only to roofs, but also solar walls or floors which could be entirely coated with these tiles or plates without altering the aesthetics of the buildings whatsoever, thus preserving the Historical and Cultural Heritage intact.
Tesla’s solar tiles
When speaking of solar power breakthroughs, it’s inevitable to mention Tesla, and in particular SolarCity, its subsidiary company. Just a few days ago, its founder Elon Musk introduced to the media a new product line which, in spite of having it before their eyes, they were incapable of spotting: tile-shaped solar panels attached to roofs.
They are photovoltaic cells integrated into small individual tiles whose appearance makes them almost impossible to distinguish from those in a conventional roof. The baseline model features four designs to please all tastes: brick-red, beige, slate or grey. In addition to this solar rooftop, a new energy storage unit called PowerWall was also introduced. It features two 14 kWh lithium-ion batteries capable of doubling the performance of the previous version and, according to the developers, providing four bedrooms and a complete set of appliances in a household with energy for a whole day.
Tesla’s concept is very similar to Dyaqua’s, though the Italian company seeks to promote viable architectural integration into emblematic city buildings. The date of their market introduction and the price point remain unknown for now, but at this rate, your rooftop or even the Cathedral of Salamanca’s could pretty soon be concealing a really sustainable and technological secret under their ordinary appearance.
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Invisible Solar: a photovoltaic clay roof tile
It’s now possible to cover your roof with solar panels that look just like traditional clay tiles. Transitioning to green energy has never been more topical. This has pushed Dyaqua, a small family business based in Vicenza, Italy, to develop an innovative tile solution involving embedded solar panels that are invisible to the naked eye.
While installing solar panels onto modern buildings is easy, it’s almost impossible or even forbidden to install them on historic sites or in cities with protected cultural heritage. To provide a solution that would allow such sites to benefit from the latest technology, Dyaqua began developing Invisible Solar, a photovoltaic system that looks just like traditional clay roof tiles.
Achieving a balance between protecting cultural heritage and respecting the environment
Since it’s impossible to integrate solar cells into clay, Dyaqua has replaced this traditional material with a composite: a mixture of recycled plastics tinted during manufacturing to achieve the desired visual appearance. Opaque to the human eye, this polymer layer filters the sunlight, feeding the small monocrystalline solar cells encapsulated within the small module. When laid together, these innovative tiles form a solar roof that transforms the sun’s rays into electricity using photovoltaic technology, just like traditional solar panels. Easy to install, they’re laid just like their conventional counterparts, and they’re stronger than slate or clay tiles. In addition to being discreet and visually appealing, they have good insulating properties—an essential feature for avoiding thermal bridges and creating energy-efficient buildings. Of course, there’s always a drawback. With Invisible Solar tiles, the downside is that their energy yield is currently lower than traditional solar panels. An area of about thirty square metres can generate one kilowatt hour of electricity. Therefore, these solar tiles must be installed across a larger surface area to produce the same amount of electricity as solar panels. To tackle this relative inefficiency, Dyaqua is currently developing a method to embed monocrystalline solar cells in other materials such as stone, concrete and wood. This way, solar energy wouldn’t just be generated by the roof, but by the building’s entire structure.
An innovative solution for harnessing solar energy at historic and protected sites
On top of the interest from homeowners in listed areas, Invisible Solar is proving to be an interesting technological development for the sustainable redevelopment of historical sites. Invisible Solar tiles have been installed in the Pompeii Archaeological Park since 2018. The objective is “to make Pompeii the first Smart archaeological park, creating an international reference model for other cultural heritage sites. According to the park’s director, the tiles look just like the terracotta tiles used by the Romans. Approved by the Italian Ministry of Culture, these Invisible Solar tiles will soon be installed on the Maxxi, Rome’s famous museum of contemporary art. In the coming months, a more extensive installation will be carried out in Évora, Portugal. This is part of an EU-funded project to help historical cities “become greener, smarter and more liveable while respecting their cultural heritage.” They’re also planned to cover the roofs of some public buildings in Split, Croatia, as well as other historic buildings throughout Europe (Bari in Italy, Ioannina in Greece, Grenada in Spain, Celje in Slovenia, Hvidovre in Denmark and Újpest in Hungary).
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Should you replace your roof with solar shingles?
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Any homeowner who’s concerned about carbon footprints and energy costs has considered solar power — usually, in the shape of solar panels. But now there’s another option: an entire solar roof.
Solar roofs are composed of solar shingles, aka solar tiles, that can fit over existing shingles or be installed on their own. So the energy-harvesting ability is baked into the roof itself. The shingles do everything regular shingles do, roof-wise (protect your house from the elements), are fire-resistant, and are quite durable. Plus, they look a lot more sleek and seamless than solar panels.
If you’re considering replacing your roof (or are building a new one for a new home), solar shingles may be a particularly timely choice. The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August 2022, offers enhanced tax credits of up to 30 percent of the cost of installations, increasing the incentive to go solar.
Let’s shed more light on the subject.
What are solar shingles?
Solar shingles or tiles are like regular roof shingles. But instead of being made of asphalt, clay or slate, they are made of glass that contain photovoltaic cells. Photovoltaic cells act as semiconductors and transfer energy collected from the sunlight into electrons, which can then become electrical current to power your home. Each shingle typically produces between 13 and 63 watts of energy, depending on the brand (one of the latest, by industry leader Tesla, claims to have a max power of 71 watts). While they both convert sunlight to energy, solar shingles are quite different from the solar panels (we’ll dig into the differences later).
The first solar shingles were developed by DOW Chemical Company, rolling out in 2011. But the concept began to get serious traction in 2016, when Tesla purchased manufacturer Solar City and began offering what it deemed the Tesla Solar Roof. Today, there are several brands of the solar roof tiles available through manufacturers like CertainTeed, GAF Energy, Luma, SunTegra and of course Tesla. (Dow dropped out of the game.)
The average size of a solar shingle or tile is about 12 inches wide by 86 inches long. It takes about 350 solar tiles for a standard-size roof. Tiles weigh about 13 pounds per square foot, so most roofs can handle them without additional reinforcement.
What do solar shingles cost?
Although the have been dropping of late, as more makers enter the market, solar roofs are expensive. On average, the cost to install solar roof shingles runs 21 to 25 per square foot or 2,100 to 2,600 per roofing square. So a total project could easily average 60,000 to 75,000 — at least. That’s considerably higher than the cost of a conventional roof (between 5,646 and 12,031. according to HomeAdvisor). Even expensive traditional materials like clay or slate (800 to 1,800 per square) cost less than solar tile.
What solar roof tiles will cost you depends on several factors including:
- Roof size: The bigger the roof, the more shingles needed.
- Roof pitch/slope: As is the case with any roof, the more extreme the angling, the more difficult/risky the installation will be, which affects the overall cost.
- Home location: Labor (installation) costs vary by city and state.
- Energy needs of your home.
- Particular manufacturer/brand of shingle or tile.
Still, solar shingle have dropped since their introduction, and they may continue to do so, given the Inflation Reduction Act’s significant incentives and grants for solar implementation, for builders as well as consumers. The Solar Energy Industries Association believes that the IRA’s investment in clean energy will spur “a renaissance in American solar manufacturing,” driving down costs. as its recent “Catalyzing American Solar Manufacturing” report put it.
What do you save in energy costs?
While expensive to install, a solar roof can save in the long run. Depending on the number of tiles on your roof, solar shingles can reduce energy costs by anywhere from 40 to 60 percent, according to the consumer education site SolarReviews. Additionally, you may be eligible for federal and state tax incentives.
Helping the immediate bite a bit: Per the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, eligible homeowners who install solar shingles will qualify for a 30 percent tax credit on the installation cost. Starting in tax year 2023, this credit continues through 2032 (and then at a reduced percentage through 2034). Several states offer credits, rebates and other incentives as well.
Solar shingles vs solar panels
Both solar shingles and solar panels can be a great option to take your home energy efficiency to the next level. But which is best for you? The advantages of each in a nutshell:
|weather-resistant and durable
|Can be more energy-efficient depending on roof slope, sunlight exposure
|Greater energy-bill savings
|Shorter installation time
|aesthetically pleasing (fewer potential HOA issues)
|inexpensive to install
What are the advantages of a solar roof?
When compared to conventional roofs and solar panels, there are some advantages to investing in solar shingles.
- They are projected to be long-lasting (30-40 years)
- They reduce energy use/carbon footprint and bills
- They blend in better and resemble traditional roof materials
- They are more cost effective per watt of solar energy than solar panels
- They are easier to maintain than solar panels
What are the disadvantages of a solar roof?
Downsides of solar shingles relate to their being such a new technology.
- Availability is more limited
- They are more expensive than conventional roofs and solar panels
- They have fewer style and color options
- Since part of the roof itself, they cannot be installed at an angle like solar panels can, to produce maximum energy
- They are not conducive to a DIY installation
The final word on solar shingles
Solar shingles are still pretty new, which means experienced installers and contractors may be limited in your area. And their exact lifespan and durability is still something of a question mark, of course: None have been around long enough to prove the current projections. Nor is there much sense, as yet, as to how they’d affect a house’s resale value (though eco-friendly features, in general, are getting more popular with homebuyers).
Still, if you’re an environmentally-conscious homeowner in need of a full roof replacement or a roof for a new build, solar shingles are worth considering. With some states now requiring that newly built homes be solar power-equipped, and enhanced federal tax credits in effect starting in 2023, the time to go solar may be now.
Types of Clay Roof Tiles
If you’ve ever made a pinch pot or sculpted your cat in art class, you know how versatile clay is. Its versatility, durability, and sustainability make it a standout roofing material and the world’s favorite. Just like art, there is a type of clay roof tile to fit every home’s aesthetic.
What is Clay Tile Roofing?
Clay tiles began sprouting up along the Eastern Seaboard in the 1650s. With a lifespan of over 100 years, it is easy to see how this long-lasting material became the most popular roofing material in the world.
Known for their distinct red color, most tiles are composed of terracotta clay. The clay is baked and molded into individual tiles, and tiles are often glazed with fluxes, earth minerals, manganese, silica, or aluminum oxide to increase durability and aesthetics.
What Are the Different Types of Clay Tile Roofs?
Stemming from clay’s ability to take on any shape, tiles are versatile, suiting any architectural style from colonial to contemporary. Clay tiles can be flat or round with varying colors and profiles.
The natural materials soften with age, and traditional clay roof tiles comprise a two-piece style of a pan and a cover. Today, lower-cost, one-piece varieties are available with varying profiles including flat to mimic traditional shingles, slate, or wood shakes.
There are four dominant tile patterns, including:
Also known as a barrel roof, mission tiles form a wave pattern by alternating concave pans, or dips, with convex covers. The convex covers form half-moon-shaped barrels while the concave pan tiles feature the same curve or are flat.
Barrel shingles are installed in pairs with the cover overlapping the pan to provide a high-profile look. These tiles are common in the southwestern United States, Italy, France, and Spain.
Mission style features a polished look with a distinct texture that shifts with the changing sun. While aesthetically beautiful, mission tiles are labor intensive and expensive to install. Popular variations in this unique style include Italian, Greek, and Roman.
Spain first introduced Spanish tiles to the U.S. through Florida. The one-piece, S-shaped design provides a high-profile aesthetic similar to mission tiles. However, these recognizable tiles are less labor intensive and cheaper to install.
Spanish style creates a signature rippled roof effect without variations. This style is less customizable than mission tile and cannot be staggered to create unique patterns.
French tiles are a low-profile option. Developed in the 1890s by Ludowici, these tiles feature two protruding flutes per tile. The style provides a textured aesthetic and increased drainage capabilities. French tiles feature a secure interlocking tab design, making them a superb choice for hurricane-prone regions.
Flat tiles offer the durability of terracotta clay while mimicking other popular roofing materials like slate tiles and wood shakes. These tiles can be installed with an interlocking design using fasteners or laid in a double thickness like traditional shingles to create multidimensional patterns.
Pros and Cons of Clay Tile Roofing
Clay tiles are durable, weather-resistant, and energy efficient and have dominated the world market of roofing materials. The popular material is an eco-friendly choice, but it is not without its drawbacks.
|Benefits of Clay Tile Roofing
|Drawbacks of Clay Tile Roofing
|Durable Low-maintenance Fire-resistant Weather-resistant Numerous styles Energy efficient
|Heavy, requires structural support Expensive Fragile Requires specialized installation
Cost of Clay Tile Roofing
Clay tiles are a high-cost, luxury roofing material and one of the most expensive materials on the market. The average cost to install a clay tile roof is 24,500, including labor and materials.
|Average Installation Cost Per Square Foot
|10 to 13
|8 to 10
|9 to 11
|3 to 9
How Do You Know if a Clay Tile Roof is Right For You?
Clay tile roofing is beautiful, durable, eco-friendly, and energy efficient. However, it does not work for every roof type. While clay tiles perform equally well in both tropical and cold climates, the material requires roofing structures with sharp slopes.
Roofing contractors cannot install clay tiles on flat roofs. A slope of at least 4:12 is required, and you need to ensure your roof’s structure can support the weight of the tiles.
Ultimately, when deciding whether clay tile roofing materials are right for your home, consider the following factors:
- Budget: Clay tiles are more expensive than other options. However, their long lifespan and 100% return on investment help offset overall costs.
- Location: Clay tile roofs work for both tropical and cold climates.
- Roof slope and support: A professional roofing contractor can help you determine if your roof’s slope and structure are suitable for clay tile roofing materials.
FAQ About Clay Tile Roofs
The color of clay naturally softens with age, but the result is a minor aesthetic difference. The color of your new tile roof will last indefinitely, and the roofing material fades less than most. There are no artificial pigments for the elements to wear away. Most manufacturers warranty against fading for 50 years.
Clay tiles are uniquely beautiful and durable, but they are also heavy and expensive. Alternative types of roofing materials to consider include:
Metal roof tiles are energy efficient and much lighter than clay tiles. Stone-coated steel offers the look of slate without the high price tag or weight. Concrete roof tiles perform the same as clay tiles for half the price. Slate roofing matches the durability and high-end aesthetics of clay tiles. Solar tiles offer advanced energy efficiency and savings.
Clay tiles are one of the most versatile roofing materials available, offering ample room for customization beyond the traditional flat or barrel shapes. Tiles can be shaped to cover any sloped roof, including tapered and domed roofs.
Many manufacturers created scalloped, diamond, and scale-shaped, high-end tiles for a unique aesthetic. Similarly, color variations are available, including glazed and unglazed options in traditional reds and browns as well as grays, blacks, blues, and greens.
Ready for a Clay Tile Roof?
Whether you’re looking for a historic, modern, or unique aesthetic, clay tiles can adapt to fit your needs. With so many design options available, your roof can truly become a one-of-a-kind work of art, unlike that pinch pot you brought home for Mother’s Day in the second grade.
If you are in the market for a new roof or want to explore re-roofing options, contact a local roofing contractor to learn about clay tiles and determine if your home is right for the durable and beautiful material.
Born and raised in Springfield, Illinois, Kimberly Magerl enjoys growing fruits and vegetables in her garden. When she isn’t gardening, Kimberly enjoys trying new recipes and cooking with her home-grown herbs.
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