Solar Panels On Flat Roof Pros And Cons

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Jack Ayre

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Putting a solar panel on a flat roof might sound impossible since you usually need a roof with an acceptable pitch in order to get the most out of the sun and harness as much solar energy as possible. But is it possible to install solar panels on flat roofs?

Yes, is the very simple answer. A flat roof solar system can be installed, but as always, it comes with certain advantages and disadvantages, and will require additional flat roof solar panel mounting equipment. Below, we’ll cover all this and more so you know how to get the most out of your solar panel system, and make the best savings on electricity bills from solar – even if it’s installed on a flat roof.

What Are Flat Roof Solar Panels?

Flat roof solar panels are a specialised form of solar PV (photovoltaic) panels. While traditional PV solar modules are designed for installation on angled rooftops, flat roof panels can be attached to a flat surface. They’re situated in such a way as to maximise the amount of sunlight they collect.

Installing flat roof solar panels is becoming more popular due to the increased availability of flat roof solar systems and installation equipment such as mounting hardware and connectors.

How Does A Flat Roof Solar Panel Function?

If you are considering installing solar panels on a flat roof, you’re probably wondering how they’ll work. It’s essential to note that flat roofs often pose greater challenges for solar panel installers as compared to sloped rooftops.

However, with careful planning and design, it’s possible to effectively install solar panels on flat roofs to ensure they get as much sunlight to reap sufficient benefits of clean energy from flat roof systems.

Flat roof solar panels are installed with specific mounting brackets, generally composed of solid aluminium. They come with corrosion-resistant coatings for further protection against these elements.

These brackets securely attach the panels to the roof structure and hold them at a steady angle to get the most out of your panel system. Depending on your specific needs and site conditions, you can include different types of mounts for your flat roof solar panel.

Ensuring your solar panel is installed correctly is crucial for it to function perfectly. That’s why you should always rely on experts like us here at ESE Solar.

Challenges Of Installing Solar Panels On A Flat Roof

Solar panels are popular options for those looking to cut down their carbon footprint and save on energy costs. However, while they can be easily installed on sloped roofs, installing them on a flat roof is not without difficulties that need to be considered.

  • Location: You’ll need to be sure that your flat roof is in an ideal location for solar panel installation. Make sure neighbouring buildings or trees do not shade the roof.

 

  • Structure: The flat roof structure should support your chosen panels’ weight and the amount of wind it gets. Flat roofs aren’t designed to sustain heavy loads, so you might need additional structural support before installing your solar panel to better support it.

 

  • Maintenance: Flat roofs require more maintenance than angled/sloped roofs due to potential drainage issues and water ponds that could occur after heavy rainfall or snowfall. We suggest adding proper drainage solutions to avoid any potential problems after installing your solar panel.

 

  • Mounting System: For your solar panels to be securely mounted onto your flat roof, you’ll need a suitable mounting system that helps hold them down. It’ll also prevent your solar panel from shifting or becoming loose over time. This is crucial for panel efficiency as panels have an optimal angle where they work best, typically around 30° for UK homes.

 

Types Of Mounting Systems For Flat Roof Solar Panels

Choosing the right flat roof mounting system can help you ensure that your solar panels will be optimally positioned to take full advantage of the sun’s energy.

Solar panels are designed to be mounted on flat roofs using one of the following mounting systems:

Ground Mounts

Ground mounts are the best way to optimise the angle and coordination of the solar panel and keep it away from any potential shade.

Ground mount systems allow for greater flexibility regarding panel placement and typically have more extended warranties than other mounting options, too. Although their name suggests they are only for use on the ground, they can be used for flat roof mounting in some instances.

Roof Mounts

Roof mounts provide a simple solution for those who don’t have enough space for a ground mount system. Most flat roofs can accommodate traditional roof mount systems, with some modification if needed.

It’s vital to check if your type of roof is compatible with the mounting system beforehand to ensure a secure installation. A quick form with ESE Solar could put you in touch with an expert in just 48 hours who can help advise which mounting system would work best for your home. 

Installing Flat Roof Solar Panels

Installing a solar panel array on your flat roof is possible. Flat rooftops can be ideal for installing solar panel systems because PV panels correctly installed on a flat surface can maximise the amount of sun each panel receives.

Therefore, make sure to check whether your flat roof is capable of supporting the PV system’s weight. The weight of a PV system depends on the size and number of panels being installed.

Having your roof checked by an expert to ensure it can handle the solar panel’s load is essential. You may need to make certain repairs or strengthen your roof structure to take on the extra load from the panels. This could involve adding existing walls and columns with more brackets and frames or installing new props along beams and joists.

Alternatively, you might need to install extra steel legs to provide further contact with the supporting surface and evenly spread any extra load from the mounted panels around.

Doing this will reduce any damage caused by uneven weight distribution and increase the lifespan of your solar panel installation. It’ll also protect your building from potential water damage from leaks caused by incorrectly installed flat roof solar systems.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Installing Solar Panels On A Flat Roof

There are some advantages and disadvantages when choosing to mount panels on a flat roof.

The Pros Of Installing Solar Panels On A Flat Roof

  • Flat roofs provide extra space for more solar panels.
  • Solar battery storage units can easily fit into dry spaces, such as garages, and other shelters provided by a flat roof.
  • Installation is more straightforward compared to sloped rooftops.
  • Flat roof solar panels are more discrete to the observer.

The Cons Of Installing Solar Panels On A Flat Roof

  • While you can generate significant amounts of electricity for your home, installation can be challenging.
  • As a flat roof doesn’t slope, it can limit the energy generated, so make sure nothing is covering your rooftop.
  • Your flat roof has to be prepared to handle the additional weight from installing the solar panel.

FAQs About Flat Roof Solar Panels

Many solar panel owners ask the same questions when considering installing a flat roof system. We’ve compiled a few FAQs to help you understand the answers to these common questions.

1. What type of roof system do I need for my solar PV installation?

Suppose you plan on installing your system directly onto an existing flat roof. In that case, it’ll depend on how well it’s insulated and its strength.

If your roof is in good condition and capable of supporting the weight, you won’t need to install added protection or strength to your roof before installing a flat roof system. However, if this isn’t the case, there are various alternatives, such as an integrated flat roof system or moving solar panels elsewhere and opting for ground mounted solar PV systems instead.

2. Do I need planning permission to install solar panels on a flat roof?

No. Planning permission isn’t usually required to install a solar array onto a flat roof in the UK. The same applies if you are considering other alternatives such as solar thermal systems. Nevertheless, if your home or property has rooftop features that could be affected by the installation process, you may require special permission from your local authority to proceed.

3. Can solar panels be mounted directly to a flat roof?

Yes. Solar panels can be mounted directly onto a flat roof in the majority of cases. These solar panels are usually installed with specially designed mounting frameworks attached securely to the roof’s structure.

It’s still essential to check that the structure can support the weight of your specific type of solar panels, though.

Flat Roof Solar Panel Mounting Summary

To conclude, it’s possible to install solar panels on a flat roof on both domestic properties and commercial buildings and reap the rewards of their effectiveness. Your flat roof solar panels will provide you with the clean, green, renewable energy you need.

However, with flat roof installations, you should ensure that your roof can safely handle and securely house these solar panels. Considering your panels’ positioning and angle on the flat roof is also key.

Seek out qualified professionals like ESE Solar to install your flat roof solar system for you. Feel free to ask us whatever questions you may have regarding how solar panel systems work and how having a solar panel system is possible even when you don’t have a sloped roof.

With the proper preparation, you can be well on your way to having solar panels installed and benefiting from a correctly installed solar array on your flat roof space.

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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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