Thinking of getting a Tesla Solar Roof? Here’s everything you need to know
First launched in 2016, Elon Musk’s Solar Roof system has taken the photovoltaic (PV) world by storm. Tesla’s Solar Roof is not the only solar roof tiles on the market but is some of the most attractive and most expensive.
Solar tiles offer a completely different approach to solar PV installations, the final product is, inarguably, far superior in aesthetic terms to traditional solar PV installations, and seeks to add a cool factor to generating your own power.
While Tesla claims its Solar Roof is competitive in terms of providing a two-for-one solution (you do get a new roof after all), ultimately, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
So, is Tesla’s Solar Roof all it’s cracked up to be? Let’s take an honest look.
What is Tesla’s Solar Roof?
Tesla’s Solar Roof, like other solar roof tiles, is an innovative system of specially engineered roofing tiles or shingles. Unlike conventional solar PV panels that are mounted onto an existing roof, a solar roof acts as a direct replacement for existing roof coverings.
The system allows potential customers to benefit from generating their own power without unduly affecting the aesthetics of their homes. Win-win.
Tesla’s Solar Roof consists of two main types of textured glass tile shingles. The first is purely decorative and is termed inactive. These look exactly the same as the second kind, called Active, to ensure a uniform look of the finished roof.
The Active shingles are effectively small, shingle-sized solar panels that are integrated into the main roof surface in strategic places to maximize their efficiency. In most cases, most of the south or west-facing areas of a roof will consist of Active shingles, with the rest of the surface consisting of the visually similar Inactive shingles.
Active shingles, like conventional solar panels, will also be fitted as close to the best angle of incidence to the Sun’s rays throughout the year. In the northern hemisphere, this is as close to a 60 degrees inclination as possible, which, on most domestic homes is around 30-45 degrees, depending on the pitch of your existing roof.
Of course, if you choose to install a Solar Roof, your old roof will need to be stripped and replaced in totality.
The system can also be used with a Tesla Solar Inverter to convert the direct current generated by the shingles to useable alternating current in your home. While non-Tesla inverters can also be used, the use of Tesla’s own proprietary equipment ensures the systems will run with fewer potential snags.
This inverter also enables you to tag on a Tesla Powerwall battery to store excess energy, if desired.
The system was developed in a collaboration between Tesla and its subsidiary SolarCity and was first announced in 2016. It wasn’t until 2018 that Tesla and SolarCity were in a position to begin the manufacture and delivery of their first Solar Roofs, however.
Since then, Tesla has continued to make improvements to the technology, with its latest variant, Solar Roof V3, boasting the best efficiency and durability to date. The product comes with a generous 25-year weatherization warranty.
Great, but what are some of the downsides? One is whether Tesla actually serves your geographical area.
For the most part, Tesla should be able to provide an installation in most of the continental United States. However, in some states, they may use authorized installers to do so.
The same is true for other parts of the world, with the rollout continuing around the world. If you are interested in finding out if they serve your area, the best thing to do is contact Tesla, or try to get a quote, and they will tell you.
How much does a Tesla solar roof cost?
According to data from actual Tesla quotes, their Solar Wall system costs approximately 1.80 per generated watt of electricity for their Active shingles. The cost of their Inactive shingles then varies depending on the complexity of the roof in question.
For simple roofs, i.e., basic pitched roofs start at around 13.30 per square foot. For more tricky roofs like hipped roofs or multiple-level roofs, these shingles should cost about 15.30 per square foot. For more complex roofs (i.e. cross-gabled, steep or variable pitched, multiple heights, or lots of obstacles), costs could be as high as 18.54 per square foot.
You will also be charged for the removal and disposal of your old roof at a rate of around 3.55 per square foot.
Just like any solar energy installation, the actual cost will vary depending on the size of roof coverage, location, and construction of the building. Smaller pitched roofs on a single-story home will be considerably cheaper than a large complex roof on a multi-story building, for example.
This is for a variety of reasons, but chief among them are additional costs for access equipment to higher roofs or increased time in labor to design and install the roof on larger and more complex roofs like cross-gabled roofs.
Tesla may also require customers to upgrade their electrical systems in order to actually work with their Solar Roof system. Upgrading elements like electrical panels can cost anywhere in the region of 5,000 and up.
However, to give you a rough estimate, using Tesla’s own calculator, a good-sized family home would cost around 70,000 dollars to install an 8.05 kW system before tax incentives. This quote is based on a home in Nashville, Texas, with a floor area of 2,500 feet 2 (232 m 2 ) and using an average monthly energy bill of 115 (this was the U.S. average in 2019, according to the EIA).
This, according to Tesla’s estimates, should be able to produce for this hypothetical home, somewhere in the order of 12,800 kWh/year, or roughly 100% of the building’s electrical energy consumption. You also get the added bonus (for additional cost) of energy storage with this system, which is a considerable advantage over some conventional domestic solar panel arrays.
If this estimate is accurate, that should provide a payback period (the time taken to recover your initial investment) of about 50 years, give or take. This will likely be closer to 40 years after tax incentives are factored in to reduce your initial capital outlay.
Another estimate for a 1,700 ft 2 (158m 2 ) roof in California with an electrical bill of 150 per month came in at 39,000 before incentives for a 6.13-kilowatt system. It should be noted that this quote was generated in 2022 and for a different state, so costs likely vary for that reason.
You should also remember that energy costs from the grid are likely to rise over time, so the true payback will likely be much shorter, ignoring any maintenance and cleaning costs of course.
We’ve chosen this square footage as it is about the average size of a new family home in the United States.
To put that into perspective, installing a similarly sized conventional solar panel array would cost around 26,000 before incentives. Using the same statistics as above would give you an equitable payback of between 15 and 22 years, depending on tax incentives.
However, remember that the estimated lifespan of conventional solar panels is also roughly 25 to 30 years, so you would probably need to replace the array after a few decades.
It should be noted, however, that such estimates should be taken with a pinch of salt. The final figures will likely vary widely depending on where your home is located if you were to actually order an installation.
This is especially the case for conventional solar panel installations and you are always advised to source several quotes from recommended installers before authorizing any work.
Any and all costs for such installations should also include any planning and design work required prior to the installation. This will not only ensure the costings are as accurate as possible but also discover if your existing roof is appropriate for such an installation.
The latter is less relevant for Tesla solar roofs, as these tend to be a direct replacement for your existing roof covering.
You should also note that costs are likely to vary over time as labor, consumable, and material costs will fluctuate, given the current economic climate. There may be other costs, too, such as various local authority planning requirements, where relevant.
Solar panels vs. Tesla solar roof: which one is better?
Generally speaking, on a per watt average cost, Tesla’s Solar Roof is actually pretty reasonable, all things considered. According to some estimates, in the United States, Tesla’s come in at around 1.80 per watt. Traditional solar PV panels tend to cost around 3.00 per watt.
However, any direct comparison between the two is complicated by a few factors. The first is that Tesla’s Solar Roof is not just some PV solar panels but actually a new roof and some PV panels in one package.
Traditional solar PV panels are where your roof can handle it, simply mounted to an existing roof without needing to replace it. So, in order to provide a fair comparison, we’ll need to do a like-for-like summing up.
Is My Roof Strong Enough for Solar Panels?
Installing a solar system on your roof is a great way to take advantage of underused space. While roofs provide the obvious benefits of keeping us safe and dry, we can’t use them for much else. With a solar system, however, you can use the space to create cost-free and emissions-free electricity.
If you’re considering installing a solar system, you may be questioning whether or not your roof can actually support the additional weight. That’s a valid concern, and we’re here to help.
How Much Do Roof-Mounted Solar Panels Weigh?
When it comes to the exact weight of a solar panel, it will vary from brand to brand and model to model. While solar panels are not extremely heavy, they’re built solid to withstand all kinds of environmental pressures.
Most 60-cell PV solar panels are somewhere in the range of 35 to 45 pounds, with the majority settling around the middle of this range at 40 pounds. This weight is spread out over the full surface area of the panel. At roughly 5.5 feet by 3.25 feet, a solar panel ends up being around 2.3 pounds per square feet.
72-cell panels will weigh a few more pounds, but because the weight is spread out over a larger surface area, the weight-per-square-foot is about the same. The average weight of a 72-cell solar panel is just over 50 pounds. With a rough dimension of 6.6 feet by 3.25 feet, which ends up being 2.4 pounds per square feet.
Typically, either 60-cell or 72-cell solar panels are used for residential solar installations, but only 72-cell panels will be used on commercial installations.
At Paradise Energy, we offer our customers three brands of solar panels we’ve found to be the best combination of performance, quality, manufacturer warranties, and cost. These panel manufacturers are AXITEC Solar, Hanwha Q CELLS, and LG Solar. Here’s a quick look at how much these manufacturers’ 60-cell and 72-cell solar panels weigh:
|Solar Panel Brand Size
|Total Weight of Panel
|Weight per Sq. Ft.
|AXITEC Solar 60-Cell
|AXITEC Solar 72-Cell
|LG Solar 60-Cell
|LG Solar 72-Cell
LG Solar offers the lightest options and they are among the industry leaders in efficiency and quality. However, they will be one of the more expensive options.
In addition to the solar panels themselves, there will also be mounting equipment installed on your roof to ensure the panels stay in place. This racking adds a small amount of weight to the solar system.
Can Your Roof Support the Added Weight of Solar Panels?
In the vast majority of solar installations, let’s say 95%, the existing roof can adequately handle the additional weight of the roof-mounted solar system.
However, we need to be sure your roof falls within that 95%. To do this, a third-party architect or structural engineer will evaluate your building and the solar system that’s been designed for your property. If they find that the roof can adequately support the weight of the panels, they’ll provide a certified letter stating their approval.
If they find that the roof cannot support the added weight, they’ll recommend what changes need to be made in order to safely install the panels. These could include things like repairing or replacing the roof or adding additional support to the rafters or beams
You and your solar installer will review these changes to see if they fit your goals for the project. If they do, the changes will be made and the revamped structure will be reevaluated. If the structural engineer deems the structure safe, they’ll give their letter of approval and the solar installation can start.
How Will the Weight of Snow on Your Panels Impact Your Roof?
The next question for those of us that live in areas with heavy snow storms is what about the added weight of snow? You can rest assured the structural engineers will take into consideration the average snowfall amounts for your area when they evaluate your structure and the proposed solar system.
Your solar panels and roof will not be affected by snowfall except for rare extreme cases. Solar panels are assigned a pressure rating that measures the amount of pressure a panel can handle before the added weight will hurt the panels. This rating is 5,000 or more Pascals (Pa) for most panels, which allows for the accumulation of two to four feet of snow.
Pro tip: We do not recommend cleaning snow off your panels. Here’s how to take care of snow on your panels.
What Will the Panels Do to Your Roof?
As long as a structural engineer signs off on your solar system, you can trust that the panels overhead are safely mounted to the roof and will not have adverse effects on your roof or building.
Your roof should not leak, assuming the solar panels are installed according to industry-standards. Solar panels can be installed on all types of roofs. Depending on your roofing type, penetrations may or may not be necessary. If roof penetrations are required, extra care will be taken to prevent any leaks.
For asphalt shingles, a piece of flashing is installed beneath the shingle so the lag bolt can be set into the rafter with no potential for leaking.
For corrugated steel roofs, a specifically designed bracket with the same galvanized roofing screws used by roofers in the installation of the roof is used to mount the panels.
For standing seam roofs, no roof penetrations are required. Instead, the panels will be held in place with a clamp that attaches right to the roof’s seam.
For flat roofs, you can opt for a ballast roof mount, which uses the weight of cinder blocks to hold the panels in place. This method does not require roof penetration either.
How Long Will My Roof Last with Solar?
When it comes to the longevity of your roof below a solar system, solar panels should not have an adverse effect. They may actually have a positive effect. If you have a warranty on your roof, your solar installer should double-check with your roof contractor and/or manufacturer to ensure the solar attachments won’t void your warranty.
The solar panels will be installed a few inches above your roof and can act as shields for the roof, bearing the brunt of the elements, from rain to hail to snow. This may help extend the lifespan of the roof.
Solar panels are meant to weather the elements, and manufacturers back this claim up with generous warranties. All solar panels should be guaranteed against specific weather occurrences, like hail up to a certain size and winds up to a certain speed.
However, solar panels aren’t indestructible. Superstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes can produce extreme weather that falls outside of the manufacturer’s warranty. In this case, your insurance should cover damage to the solar system.
Are Solar Panels Safe on My Roof?
Solar panels can be safely and securely installed on the vast majority of roofs without the need for additional support. However, no solar system should be installed without an architect or structural engineer first evaluating the proposed system and the structural integrity of the building.
Once they have signed off on your installation, you can rest assured that the solar panels won’t interfere with the long-term health of your roof or cause any leaking.
What Is the Best Roof Design for Solar Panels and What If Mine’s Not Perfect?
If you’re looking to go solar at home, chances are you’re going to put those panels up on your roof. Ground-mounted solar is a great option, but it’s uncommon to have enough space to put up a decent-sized system in your yard. So that begs the question, what is the best roof design for solar panels?
Let’s get this out of the way first: Almost no one has the perfect roof for solar. Although some roof shapes and angles are better for solar production than others, solar panels are extremely versatile and can provide energy cost savings and carbon footprint reduction in a wide range of configurations.
In other words: Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
In this article, we’ll explore that makes a good roof for solar panels and some frequently asked questions.
roof design traits that effect your solar production
There are several roof characteristics that effect how much your solar panels will produce. Here is the top six:
Also known as azimuth, orientation is the direction your roof faces. For North American solar systems, the best roof design for solar panels is one with a large, unshaded south face (an azimuth of 180 degrees).
Not having a south-facing roof is not a deal-breaker. However, many roofs are multi-faceted, and if your roof is mostly west- and east-facing, you’re likely to only see a 10-20 percent reduction in the amount of energy you’re generating.
There’s been an ongoing debate about south-facing vs. west-facing panels over the last couple of years. While south-facing panels will generate the most energy, west-facing panels generate the most energy when demand is highest. That’s why some big proponents, including the California Energy Commission, encourage builders to include some west-facing solar panels in their developments.
In the end, south is best, but west and east are also good; having panels facing south and west will help you generate energy throughout the day.
Along with orientation, the size of your roof will determine how many solar panels you can install. The average US home solar system size is 5 kilowatts or 12-13 panels with a rating of 400 Watts. With solar panels requiring about 15 square feet each, you need about 200 square feet of (south- or west-facing) roof space to fit 13 panels on your roof.
Big surprise: Solar panels only work when the sun is shining directly on them. If you’re surrounded by tall trees and your roof and yard are shaded most of the day, your choices are limited to either:
- Taking down trees
- Buying clean energy from a community solar system instead
- Opting for a clean energy mix from your utility (if available)
It’s important to note that shading doesn’t always come from trees and outside objects — sometimes roofs can shade themselves. The best roof design for solar panels is one with minimal tiers and overhangs that could cause shading.
What is your roof made of? The most common type of roofing material is asphalt shingles, but solar installers can put panels on just about any of the most common types of roofing materials, including tile, metal, slate and even wood shingle.
Some roof types are more difficult to install on than others, and if your roof is made of trickier materials it may add to the cost of your solar installation.
important than the roof type you have is how old your roof is. According to a study by the National Home Builders Association, an asphalt shingle roof should last for around 20 years, while slate, copper, tile, and metal roofs can last 50 years or more. Meanwhile, most home solar systems are guaranteed to last for 25 years, and will likely last much longer.
So if your roof will need to be replaced in the next 10 years or less, consider doing so before your solar panels are installed. You can always replace the roof after your panels are in place, but it involves removing the panels and racks, replacing the roof, and then re-installing the panels, which adds more cost to the project.
The slope of your roof isn’t as important as the orientation, but it can affect your solar energy output. The ideal roof angle for power generation is about 30 degrees, but roofs that are too steep make installation difficult, while flat roofs mean that you can set the panels at just the right angle, but you’ll be paying extra for the required racking.
As a rule of thumb, your panels should be tilted at about the degrees as your latitude. So if you live in Los Angeles at 34 degrees north, then your panels should face south and be tilted about 34 degrees.
What if I don’t have the best roof design for solar panels?
Not everybody has a large, unshaded, south-facing roof. So what happens if your roof design is less than perfect for solar panels?
In these scenarios, there are two ways to increase your solar output:
Use panels with a higher power rating – Solar panels are rated from 250 to 450 based on how many Watts of DC electricity they can produce per hour. So, if you don’t have enough space for 16 250W panels, then you can achieve the same output with 10 400W panels.
Increase the number of panels – If you have limited sun exposure due to shading, pitch, orientation, or location you can simply add more panels. For example, Los Angeles averages around 6 peak sun hours per day while New York City averages around 4.5. That means it would require 15 panels to achieve 27,000 kWh per day in New York City, and around 11 panels to achieve 27,000 kWh per day in Los Angeles.
In both cases, you can expect your project to cost a little more than if you had a perfect roof for solar. However, the solar panels themselves make up a small fraction of your project cost, and adding or upgrading will have little effect on your energy cost savings over 25 years.
Bottom line: There is no perfect roof
Although it’s tempting to want the best roof design for solar panels, solar panels are extremely versatile and can provide energy cost savings and clean energy in many applications.
Between the falling costs of solar equipment and the 30% federal solar tax credit, there’s never been a better time to go solar. Get started by comparing multiple quotes from vetted local installers.
Best roof design for solar panels FAQs
What type of roof is best for solar panels?
A south-facing composite asphalt shingle roof with plenty of space is typically considered the best roof design for solar panels. However, solar systems can be very versatile and provide clean energy and cost savings in a wide variety of applications.
What is the best roof design for solar?
It may sound simple, but a large square roof with a standard pitch between 20-30 degrees is ideal for a simple solar system. Roofs with lots of tiers with little extended space can create challenges for designers and installers.
What type of roof is not good for solar panels?
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you have a slate or wood roof, your options are limited. Many solar companies will refuse to install on these materials, which can limit your options.
Some work-arounds include re-roofing with a new material or installing the system on the ground.
What if my roof is old?
Most roofs must be replaced at some point, but you have a couple options when assessing your roofs current state before going solar. If your roof is too old, some solar installers will replace your roof as part of the same project, which can help you save by combining the projects.
If your roof is getting old but not quite at point of replacing, it may be worthwhile to install the solar panels knowing you’ll need a roof replacement at some point down the road. In this case, re-roofing requires the added cost of having your solar company un-install and re-install the panels.
Solar panels can help aid the longevity of your roof, because they help protect against a lot of nature’s elements.
Will my roof have issues with leaks?
Leaks after solar installation are extremely rare. Yet, if they do happen it’s important to be covered by a warranty. Good installers offer extended warranties on workmanship, which means you won’t have to worry about being on the hook for any issues that could arise during an install.
If your roof seems like a fit, use Solar.com to receive free, no-obligation bids on a solar installation for your home.
What Is the Best Roof for Solar Panels?
If you’re looking to acquire solar panels, your first step is to determine whether your roof is suitable for a solar panel system. And if you plan to use solar panels on a home you’re building, roof design should be on your mind as well.
Either way, roofing styles and materials come in many different types. Understanding how these factors influence solar panel installations can be challenging.
At Freedom Solar, we’ll give you insights about which roofs work best for solar panels. When you know the best roof for solar panels at your home, you’ll make sure your system stays stable and secure for optimal performance.
What Type of Roof Is Best for Solar Panels?
Many types of roofs work great for solar panels, but here are the top types to choose from.
Mounting Solar Panels on Shingle Roofs
Shingle roofs are the most common type of roofing on homes and comprise either composite or asphalt shingles. Composite shingles are made of a combination of materials, such as laminate, wood and slate. Asphalt shingles are made of either a cellulose mat or fiberglass, with asphalt added at the end of the manufacturing process.
While both options are flexible, composite shingles are a bit more durable than their asphalt counterpart.
Overall, installing solar panels on shingle roofs is quite simple, requiring standard penetrating mounts that easily attach.
For installation, technicians drill studs into the roof for the solar panels to attach to. Then, they close off the spaces between the panels and studs. Finally, they seal the system with flashings to prevent water from leaking between the roof and panels — and potentially into your home.
Many homeowners (or homebuilders) use shingle roofing because it’s inexpensive and durable. In fact, shingle roofing lasts between 12 and 20 years, which makes it great for attaching solar panels that you’ll likely keep on your roof for decades.
Mounting Solar Panels on Metal Roofs
Metal roofs work great for solar panel installations. If your home has a metal roof with standing seams, technicians can easily attach solar panels because they don’t require any drilling for attachment. And because there’s no need for drilling, there’s no need to hire contractors or crews, which saves you labor costs during the home solar panel installation process.
Additionally, metal roofs are beneficial on homes and businesses in sunny, warm areas — such as Texas, Colorado and Florida. That’s because metal roofs reflect any light that doesn’t hit solar panels, which keeps houses and buildings cooler.
One of the main reasons that people choose metal roofing for their homes is because of its impressive life cycle. A metal roof can last anywhere from 40 to 125-plus years.
On the downside, metal roofs are about two to three times more expensive than other roofing materials and can be noisy during inclement weather. Luckily, if you have solar panels on your home, the panel system blocks some of the noise.
Mounting Solar Panels on Tile Roofs
If you have a tile roof, technicians can install solar panels using a standard penetrating mount that raises them slightly above the roof. Because tiles don’t always have uniform shapes, cutting or removing some tiles might be necessary to make way for mounts. In turn, this effort can result in extra labor costs.
Tile shingles can be made of slate, concrete and clay. Installing solar panels on clay tile presents some hurdles that aren’t present with standard shingle roofs.
For one, how you move across the roof itself is radically different. Clay tile is highly resilient to the elements, but it’s not so resilient to installation teams’ footsteps. However, Freedom Solar is meticulous when servicing this market — we’re well trained on moving across clay roofs without breaking tiles.
Although tiled roofs are visually pleasing because they have more range in appearance, they’re typically heavier and more expensive than other roofing materials. (Granted, they’re not as expensive as metal roofs.) Nonetheless, they’re long-lasting and generally more waterproof than other roofing types.
Tile roofing is widespread in California and Arizona, and it’s growing in popularity nationwide. For example, in areas like Central Texas, preferences are changing alongside spiking population rates.
Mounting Solar Panels on Tar and Gravel Roofs
Although most tar and gravel rooftops are flat (some sloped roofs use tar and gravel), you can still install solar panels on them. However, you’ll need to ensure technicians mount and angle your solar panel system at 30 degrees with tilt brackets. This guarantees your panels receive optimal sunlight for energy generation.
And even though working on flat roofs is easy, you should still consider hiring a labor crew or contractor to mount and orient your solar panel system. This is doubly true if you’re inexperienced with the installation process.
Many homeowners like tar and gravel rooftops because they’re budget-friendly and have about a 20- to 25-year life span. Plus, they have tight seals to prevent cracks and leaks and provide a strong, flat support surface for your solar panel system.
What Is the Best Roof Angle for Solar Panels?
Ultimately, the best roof angle for solar panels is about 30 degrees to maximize energy output. However, that doesn’t mean solar panels won’t work for roofs with steeper or flatter slopes.
For optimal solar panel performance, you’ll want to add 15 degrees to your latitude in the winter, then tilt the solar panel system to whatever that number is. For the summer, subtract 15 degrees from your latitude and angle the solar panel system accordingly.
Can a Roof Be Too Steep for Solar Panels?
Most roofs aren’t extremely steep. Even if yours is, your solar panels will likely still function well enough to produce enough energy for your home. Although the ideal roof angle is about 30 degrees, if your roof tilt is at 40 degrees, this decreases energy generation by only about 1%.
Any roof that’s over 40 degrees is probably too steep. If full energy independence is your goal, then a solar panel system might not be a feasible addition to your home.
Solar Panels on Flat Roofs
You can find solar panels just as easily on flat rooftops as on sloped rooftops.
The solar panel installation process for flat roofs is usually much simpler than it is for sloped roofs because it’s easier to move around. And that means the installation process is quicker.
Solar installations on flat roofs don’t need the penetration mounts that sloped roofs need for the system to stay secure. Alternatively, technicians use weighted mounting systems (aka ballast systems) for flat roofs, which don’t require drilling into the roof. This type of system eliminates the need for holes and uses gravity to ensure your solar panel system is stable.
However, because flat roofs clearly don’t have an angle, technicians use tilt-up brackets to keep your system angled at 30 degrees.
What Is the Best Direction for Solar Panels on Roofs?
The best direction for solar panels is south. But if your roof doesn’t face south, you can angle solar panels southeast or southwest.
Depending on which hemisphere you live in, this answer could be the opposite. For people in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun travels along the southern part of the sky as the Earth orbits throughout the year, so your solar panels need to face south. Similarly, people in the Southern Hemisphere need to angle solar panels north (or northeast or northwest).
How Much Roof Space Is Needed for Solar Panels?
The roof space you need for solar panels fully depends on your solar panel type and manufacturer, your home’s size and how much electricity you generally use daily.
For example, 1 square foot of roof space can generate around 15 watts of solar energy with an average-sized solar panel. A smaller home might need only 200 square feet of roof space for panels. However, larger homes would need more solar panels — and thus more roof space (about 1,000 square feet) — to keep the lights on.
If you use a lot of electricity, you’ll likely need more roof space to accommodate more solar panels to meet your power requirements.
Generally speaking, average homes use from 19 to 23 solar panels, with each panel needing up to 18 square feet of space. Your roof should have about 400 to 600 square feet of available space. Plus, consider any skylights, dormers or chimneys that might decrease your total usable roof space.
Roof Strength Requirements for Solar Panels
Solar panels and their required mounting equipment, whether penetration or weight mounts, typically weigh 3 to 4 pounds per square foot. Usually, this weight is acceptable for any roof type.
However, solar panels with weighted ballasts on flat roofs generally weigh a bit more because concrete blocks hold the system in place.
As long as your home has a fairly new roof that’s in decent condition, weighted ballasts are a fine solution. That’s especially true if you have SunPower solar panels. SunPower offers the lightest solar panels in the industry, at about 33 pounds per panel.
Are Solar Panels Bad for Your Roof?
Solar panels aren’t bad for your roof, but you should consider some factors, especially during the installation process. Because drilling is necessary to secure panels to the roof, the process leaves holes that could lead to water leaks over time.
Solar professionals can ensure installation avoids long-term damage to your roof — and ultimately to your home. Because solar panel systems have a 30- to 35-year life cycle, it’s important that technicians install your panels correctly the first time around!
And while drilled holes in your roof never seem appealing, numerous safety measures help ensure drilling won’t result in any damage. We’ll tell you a bit about the process.
First, technicians use drilled holes for lag bolts, which secure the solar panel system’s mounting rack. To avoid water leakage, technicians fill the holes with a sealant. Then, they surround the lag bolts with metal or plastic flashings — a sort of shield that fits under whatever roof tile type you have. Finally, they seal the flashings air-tight with either tar or another durable material to ensure your roof doesn’t suffer damage or seepage.
Solar Panel Design Considerations: How To Get the Best-Looking Solar Panels
If you’re worried that solar panels might make your home look … not as appealing as you’d like, remember that you have options!
For example, black shingles typically look best with solar panels. Although black absorbs sunlight, which can make your home feel a bit warmer, darker roofs help blend the appearance of solar panels so that they don’t drastically stand out.
At Freedom Solar, we offer SunPower solar panels in varying options. That said, their signature black aesthetic features all-black solar cells and antireflective glass, which look chic and sleek on any roof type.
And the benefits go beyond aesthetics. Whatever type of roof or solar panels you have, they’re a good look because they represent your character, values and commitment to sustainability.
Contact Freedom Solar for Your Solar Panel Needs
To learn more about solar panels or the installation process for your home or business, contact Freedom Solar today! Call us at (877) 795-0577, or submit an online inquiry. We’re ready to help you go solar anytime.
Freedom Solar also has it’s own solar panel repair and maintenance service department if needed. Our experienced team can maintain, repair and upgrade any system for maximum energy production and efficiency