If you’re considering going solar, there are a few key criteria that your home or building should meet.
- Face due south, to maximize the amount of sunlight the panels collect.
- If your roof is flat then you are all set! The panels can be installed to face due south no matter how your roof is oriented.
- If your roof is pitched, you need to have a section that faces south in order to maximize the amount of solar energy collected by the panels. If your roof faces due east or west, it is still possible to go solar, but you’ll have to have the panels tilted south.
- Remain unshaded between 9am and 3pm.
- The portions of the roof where solar will be installed should be free of shade for most of the day, as shade can significantly reduce electricity production. If you’re not sure if your roof is shaded, an installer can use a tool called a Solar Pathfinder to figure out if trees or other objects will cast shade during the day.
- Have a roof that is in good repair and less than 15 years old.
- If your roof is more than 15 years old, you may want to consider replacing it when you purchase the system. Most solar vendors recommend using roofing material that will last as long as the system, which is about 25 to 30 years.
Many people are concerned about the additional weight of solar panels on their roof. Surprisingly, solar panels are not particularly heavy and their weight is spread out across the entire length of the roof (as opposed to an air conditioning unit, for example, which has all its weight concentrated in a single spot). But, if your roof is not a good fit for a system, it may be possible to install panels on your garage, carport, barn, or mounted on poles (called a “ground mount”).