Ideal Building Materials for Solar Panels

February 27, 2017

Solar panels are suitable for most every building type, regardless of what the building is made from. When you think about the materials that are commonly used for buildings, you might think of a few easy ones, like:

  • Plywood, hardwood or some other wood (log cabins, etc.)
  • Masonry (brick or stone composites)
  • Steel, aluminum or another metal
  • Resin or molded plastic (more commonly found in manufactured buildings like trailers or mobile homes)

You might find yourself asking this question: “Are there certain building types that are incompatible with solar panels?” This isn’t a bad question to ask, because every building type has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Whether or not a building is suitable for solar panels would definitely qualify as one or the other. First and foremost, the deciding feature of a building that would determine if it is compatible with solar power is this: does the building have a roof or sun-facing surface that can bear at least a 2-4 pound-per-square-foot load? If you can confidently answer yes to this question, then congratulations. Your building is suitable for solar power!

[Note: If you’re thinking that a metal building cannot be a good fit for solar due to its electroconductivity, think again. Correctly installed solar power systems are 100% isolated from any electrical current that may be carried by the building’s infrastructure.]

But then, you might find yourself asking the follow-on question: “How do I know if the roof of my building can withstand 2-4 pounds per square foot?” The good news is that most all modern buildings that are in good shape and have been inspected for damages can meet this standard. In fact, it’s very rare to find a building that is in good shape that is not a candidate for a solar power generation system using PV panels.

Remember that solar panels are not the only hardware that is required for a total solar system. There are inverters, wiring, conduit, housing boxes and terminals that need to be considered, too. All of this equipment combines to form the system Bill of Materials, which is the complete list of everything needed to get the job done right. Depending on the size of the solar system you may be considering, the bill of materials will likely be different building-to-building.
If you have questions about your own building, or if you’re currently in the building design phase and want expert input on how best to incorporate solar, contact us now. We offer a completely free energy assessment that you can use to budget for your new solar power system, and it all starts with a call or email. Get in touch with us today!