Can Solar Be Installed On Any Roof Type?

May 12, 2016

Ok, it’s roof type trivia time! How many of the following roof types could you sketch out on a piece of paper?

Open Gable roof
Saltbox roof
Mansard roof with flat lean-to extension and a pyramid hip
Combination M-style roof with dual Dormers
Butterfly roof with Skillion add-on

Ok, pencils down. How did you do?

If these sound confusing, don’t worry; there are literally thousands of different roof types. In this week’s blog post we’re going to get into different roof types and whether or not they are acceptable as candidates for the installation of a solar power generation system. We’re going to answer a basic question: are there any types of roof that preclude building owners from installing these systems?

First and foremost, when we’re discussing roof types we need to keep in mind a very important term: pitch. Roof pitch is the angle from flat, at which the roof is tilted. One pitch is roughly equivalent to four degrees, so a roof with a pitch of 10 would be angled at about 40 degrees from vertical. Pitch is important because it determines how directly the sun is going to be hitting the solar panels that will be installed. The optimal sunlight angle on a panel is 90 degrees, and this angle is going to vary throughout the day.

Any roof that has direct exposure to sunlight during the day is going to have potential for generating solar power. The next question to ask is, “What are the most ideal panel locations on this roof?”. The answer to this question can be arrived at by doing some basic calculations that take into consideration a building’s physical location on the Earth and which direction its roof surfaces are facing. Even a roof with a 90 degree, completely vertical roof surface could conceivably have a solar panel mounted on it.

So the bottom line is that there is no single roof type that is going to necessarily be a bad fit for solar power. With the right professionals doing the installation work, virtually any roof can be used. To find out where solar might be best installed on your particular roof, contact us for a no-cost energy assessment.