Can You Install Solar Panels On Both Sides Of A Roof?

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Jack Ayre

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Have you been looking for ways to reduce your electricity bills? Like many other UK homes, your household may be considering purchasing a solar panel system so you can power your home using your very own solar power.

Solar panels work by capturing direct sunlight and converting the solar rays into solar power. This creates your own reliable, renewable electricity source that, when combined with a solar inverter, can power your household appliances and devices. But how do you make the most of your property’s solar potential?

This article will explore the possibility of installing solar panels on both sides of the roof, the factors that can impact your ability to have panels installed on your roof, and what area of your roof is the best place to install solar panels.

What Does It Mean To Install Solar Panels On Multiple Sides Of Your Roof?

Most residential properties in the UK will feature some form of gabled roof. When we are talking about installing solar PV panels on both sides of your roof, we mean that panels will be placed on the front and the back of your roof. Solar panels generate electricity, so in theory the more panels you have the more power your system should be able to generate.

However, the location of your solar panels, and which way they are facing, will have a significant impact on the amount of electricity they are able to generate. The section below will outline the best locations to house solar panels to ensure your system is working at peak effectiveness.

What Is The Best Roof Location For Installing Solar Panels?

Typically, when you have your solar panel system installed, your solar array will be placed on any south facing roofs. This is because this specific area will see the greatest level of sunlight, and therefore will capture the largest amount of solar energy. However, not all households will have south facing roofs, so it is important to understand that there is a hierarchy when it comes to the most effective facing roof spaces.

South Facing Roof

Like we have previously mentioned, the vast majority of solar panels that are installed on residential properties will face south. This is because south facing roof panels are the most efficiently placed solar panels as they receive the greatest amount of sunlight.

However, you may not be able to install south facing roof panels. Perhaps there are obstacles that will place your panels in the shade if they face that way or you simply don’t have a south facing roof.

solar panel roof survey

East Or West Facing Roof

If having south facing solar panels isn’t an option for your household, the next best option is having either east or west facing panels. Each option comes with its own benefits:

  • West facing roofs: By placing your solar panels on a west facing roof, you will be able to take advantage of the sunlight during the evening period.
  • East facing roofs: Whereas east facing solar panels will be able to capture sunlight during the morning hours.

 

While these two options aren’t as efficient as south facing solar panels, you will still be able to generate a significant amount of solar energy.

North Facing Roof

The least efficient type of solar panel you can install on your property are north facing solar panels. If you have north facing roofs, then you may already know that these types of roofs receive the least amount of sunlight of the four options. Because of this, north facing solar panels are the least recommended type of panels.

However, this does not mean that you can’t install solar panels on a north facing roof. Panels placed in this location will still be able to generate solar power, it simply won’t be as effective as other locations.

What Factors Impact Installing A Solar PV System On A Roof?

Now that you know whether your roof is facing a suitable direction for having solar panels installed, there are other key factors that you need to take into consideration before installing solar panels on your roof space.

Available Roof Space

Making sure that you have enough space on your roof is pivotal to ensuring that installing a solar panel system is a wise decision for your family. The more space available on your roof, the better the chances are that you have enough space for your solar array. Obstacles like: roof vents, sky lights, and chimneys are just three of the common items you may find on your roof that takes space away from your solar array.

In the table below, we have outlined how many solar panels each size solar system will require in order to run effectively. When you know what size system your household will require, you will be able to compare that to the amount of solar panels you will need in order to ensure you have enough available roof space.

How many solar panels will my solar system need?
Solar system sizeAmount of solar panels requiredAvailable roof space you will need
2kW system4 to 5 solar panels8 to 10
3kW system6 to 8 solar panels12 to 16
4kW system8 to 10 solar panels16 to 20
5kW system10 to 13 solar panels20 to 26
6kW system13 to 16 solar panels26 to 32

 

Roof Orientation

As we have previously mentioned, roof orientation is extremely important when it comes to installing solar panels on your roof. If you have a roof facing south, then you have a roof with the optimal angle for generating solar power. North facing roof spaces are the least desirable.

Obstacles Obstructing Your Roof Space

Similar to the orientation of your roof, you also need to take into consideration whether your roof suffers from having any shaded areas. Common obstacles that could impact the amount of sunlight your roof receives includes:

  • Any tall trees located in close vicinity to your house.
  • Neighbouring properties that could cast shade on your roof.
  • Potential physical obstacles like branches, rubbish, and leaves.

 

While you may not be able to stop most of these obstacles, apart from ensuring you keep a clean roof space, these obstacles will still hinder the amount of solar power your system will be able to create.

Roof Pitch

Both flat roofs and sloping (gabled) roofs are suitable for solar panel installation. However, the angle (or lack of angle) of your roof will have a significant impact on how many solar panels can be installed on your property. The optimal angle for your roof to have is 30 to 40°, but no matter the angle of your roof, you will be able to have a number of solar panels installed.

If your roof is flat, solar panels will still be able to be installed on your roof. However, extra mounting will have to be made available during the installation process, in order for your panels to have an acceptable pitch.

The Material Your Roof Is Made Of

The material that your roof is made out of can impact whether you can have solar panels installed or not. If you have an asphalt, metal, tar, gravel, or wooden roof, you will be able to have solar panels installed. In particular, asphalt is considered the best material to have your solar PV system installed on.

If your roof is made using any of the following common roof material, then you will not be able to have solar panels installed on your roof space:

  • Thatch roof – As this will come with a greater fire risk.
  • Glass roof – This type of roof will not be able to withstand the additional weight that comes with solar panels.
  • If your roof contains asbestos – Before installing solar panels, you should have the asbestos removed from your roof space.

 

Additionally, it is highly advised that if you need to conduct any roof repairs, that you do so before having solar panels installed. If the structure of your roof is compromised, then it could buckle under the additional weight of the solar panels.

Living In A Conservation Area

Another major sticking point that you may face if you are considering purchasing a solar panel system is if you live in a conservation area. Similarly, if you live in a listed building, then you may find it difficult to have solar panels installed. This is because both of these issues will require you to submit planning permission which you may struggle to get approved.

Solar Conservation Area

Pros And Cons Of Installing Solar Panels On Both Sides Of Your Roof

Advantages Of Having Solar Panels On Both Sides Of Your Roof

Advantages of having solar panels on both sides of your roof
BenefitExplanation
Produces more solar powerSetting aside the efficiency levels of the solar panels, having more solar panels installed on your roof space will ensure that you have a greater level of energy generation compared to if you had panels on only one side of your roof.

Having solar panels in more locations will allow your system to capture more sunlight, which means more electricity generated. Some panels may simply generate more electricity than others.

Further the reduction in your energy billsAs you generate power using your solar panel system, you will no longer need to purchase electricity generated by the National Grid. With energy prices spiralling, this means that you will be able to reduce your energy bills.
Increase the value of your propertyResidential properties that can generate electricity on their own are becoming more and more popular as UK homeowners look for ways to reduce their electricity bills. If you are looking to sell your house, and you have solar panels on both sides of your roof, your property may be more appealing to potential buyers with solar panels installed.
Minimise your carbon footprintAs your solar panels work to generate the most energy possible, you are less likely to use the National Grid. While solar power is a renewable energy source, the National Grid is mostly powered through the burning of fossil fuels, which is damaging to the environment.

 

Disadvantages Of Having Solar Panels On Both Sides Of Your Roof

Disadvantages of having solar panels on both sides of your roof
DrawbackExplanation
Greater installation costsAs you will have solar panels on both sides of your roof, you will require more equipment to make your solar system fully operational. This will lead to further initial costs, with your system also taking longer to install.
Solar panels may not be placed in an optimal locationSolar PV installers will place your panels in the most optimal location. By installing panels on two sides, the additional panels may not work as effectively.

Additionally, having panels in more locations will increase their vulnerability of being placed in shaded areas. Nearby buildings and trees may cast shadows over your solar panels.

More complex wiring requiredEven though you will have solar panels on two sides of your roof, all panels will need to be connected to the same solar inverter in order to power your household appliances and devices. However, this will mean that more complex wiring will be required in order to connect each solar array to the same inverter.
Presents potential issues when it comes to maintenanceTo ensure your solar panels are working as efficiently as possible you will need to ensure that your panels remain clean and free of any obstacles. By having solar panels in two locations, you will need to spend more time (or more money) cleaning and maintaining them.

 

Can You Install Solar Panels On Both Sides Of A Roof? Summary

If you are considering purchasing enough solar panels to install on both sides of your roof rather than just one, then there is one cost-benefit analysis that you need to make. Will having solar panels on both sides of your property produce enough electricity to outweigh the higher costs that will come with placing additional solar panels on your property?

One of the key influences that will impact whether the benefits outweigh the costs is the location of the solar panels. Below, we have outlined the most to least effective facing solar panels that you can install on your property, relating to how much sunlight they will be able to capture:

  • Most effective: South facing roofs.
  • Still effective: East and west facing roofs.
  • Not as effective: North facing roofs.

 

The roof orientation of your residential property isn’t the only factor that you will need to take into consideration when debating whether you should install solar panels on your roof. You will also need to take into consideration these following factors:

  • The materials your roof is made out of.
  • The pitch of your roof.
  • How much available roof space you have, and whether it is enough to house your solar PV system.
  • Whether any potential obstacles will produce shade that covers your roof space.
  • Whether you live in a conservation area.

 

If you still are not sure whether installing solar panels on both sides of your roof is a good, or worthwhile, idea for your household, then why not get in touch with ESE Group? Our solar system experts will be able to answer any questions you may have and help you create the perfect solar panel system for your household – and we’ll NEVER recommend solar if it simply isn’t right for your property.

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Born in North West England, Jack kicked off his career in the insurance arena, dealing with claims for three years. Always up for a challenge, Jack leapt out of his comfort zone and embarked upon 5 years of excitement with the military.

Working for the Ministry of Defence, Jack specialised in counter-terrorism which took him to places such as Dubai, Oman, Iraq, Norway and Bahrain. During this period he worked with various Governments implementing strategic operations to prevent terrorism.

After travelling around various countries Jack increasingly came across various forms of solar from large solar farms to domestic solar panels. From here Jack took a keen interest in all things solar and started reading about the technological capabilities with a view to entering the industry after his career in the Ministry of Defence.

Once home after 5 fruitful years, Jack had 3 months leave in which he immersed himself in a solar crash course and got applying for jobs within the solar sector. He came across ESE Solar, a long-established forward-thinking company whose head office was only a stone’s throw away from him. He picked up the phone to see if there were any vacancies and within a week had a successful interview and obtained a full-time job, starting in the technical team.

Within the first few months, Jack onboarded in various online courses during work and social hours to speed up his knowledge of all things solar. Due to his strong work ethic and thirst for knowledge Jack was promoted to Head of Technical at ESE Solar. He currently leads the team and oversees the product development of new technologies within the company alongside assisting where necessary on their maintenance department.

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