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Going solar? How to know if you are “roof ready”

By September 14, 2016 No Comments

This article was featured on on 9/14/2016.

There are plenty of reasons to have a solar system installed onto your home. Those who have looked into it, whether by their own study or by having a few solar companies come to their homes and hearing the sales pitch, know one of the first and foremost topics that is covered: Is your roof solar capable?

Kelly Curtis, Director of Operations at Solaroo Energy joins KSL today to discuss what you need to know about how your roof matters and why.

Kelly starts off by stating, “We carry a 25-year warranty on the installation of every home we work on, however, every roof is different and there are some key factors regarding your roof that can be the difference of saving tens of thousands on your system or not saving at all. Determining if your roof is capable of handling a solar system is one of our top-most concerns, so we make sure we do our homework and have licensed engineers to inspect each roof to make the best decision for each client.”

They take it so seriously, in fact, that not all homes qualify to have a system installed. “We’ve definitely walked away from solar jobs before. In cases where a roof doesn’t qualify, we can refer them to our preferred roofing companies, and then when they are ready we are happy to help. But safety is the first priority for us.”

It seems to go without saying that safety comes first, but are there other factors that play into whether you have the right roof? You bet there are!

Some of those other factors can be roof orientation, tilt, shingle type and age. Below Mr. Curtis walks through the different factors.

Roof orientation

Mr. Curtis explains that roof orientation determines the efficiency of your panels. “South-facing is the preferred roof, but in reality, East and West-facing roofs can be just as efficient. With these homes, you’re either soaking up the sun in the morning or the afternoon and evening. If you live close to the mountains, chances are the sunlight isn’t going to start hitting your roof until around 10 am, in which case if you have an East-facing roof, you’re missing out on valuable morning sunlight.”

“Unfortunately,” continues Mr. Curtis, “homes with a roof facing the North don’t even qualify for the tax rebates available, because the production is so low, so we don’t consider them solar candidates.”

There are homes that have multiple facing roof points. Bear in mind that, even if this is the case, there are factors that can affect which sections of the roof will actually work. Mr. Curtis shares, “Trees, chimneys, roof vents and other shading issues are huge components on where we decide to install a solar system on a roof.”


Roof tilt

Mr. Curtis describes that “The tilt or pitch of your roof will determine how much summer sun you will get and how much winter sun you will get.”

Mr. Curtis tells us that the most efficient angle, in the dead of the summer, is roughly 16 degrees between 3/12 and 4/12 pitch. The most efficient angle for the dead of the winter is roughly 64 degrees, which is really steep (roughly 24/12 pitch).

“If you are to take an average of the two, the best angle would be between 28-35 degrees or roughly a 6 or 7/12 pitch,” Mr. Curtis explains. He goes on to say, “If you don’t have this ideal pitch, not to worry. It just means that your energy production will vary based on the time of year.”

Shingle type and age

When it comes to the type of shingle you have, it’s not about production — it’s about the installation. “Asphalt and aluminum shingles are easier to install on than tile shingles and corrugated metal roofing,” says Mr. Curtis. “But production won’t be materially different based on your type of roofing.”

“The bigger concern for us is the age of your roof,” he continues. “If you have an older home and don’t have trusses, then you might need structural braces installed to your rafters to support the weight of your system. Also, if there has been any damage to your roof due to bad weather or storms, you’ll want to have that replaced before we get started,” Mr. Curtis advises. As previously mentioned, if your roof isn’t ready, they can put you in touch with someone to help you with that.

For more information about solar, or to see how much energy your roof will produce, call us at (801) 826-4888.