Home Household Tips Is Your Home Suitable for Solar Panels
home suitable for solar panels

Is Your Home Suitable for Solar Panels

by Martha Simmonds

As homeowners, we are always looking for ways to improve the value of our homes or reduce the costs of running our homes.

One of the best and longest-lasting methods to do both at the same time is to install solar panels on your roof. They produce electricity which reduces your regular power expenses and immediately adds value to your home because it is a house with lower power costs.

If you are wanting to go solar, one of the first decisions you need to make is if the roof on your home is suitable for maximizing the advantages of solar panels.

There are three types of solar panel options to consider, monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or thin-film solar panels.

Three types of solar panels

Monocrystalline panels are the most efficient and put out the most power at 15% – 20%. However, they are the most expensive. They are best for homes that don’t have room for a lot of panels, so you want to maximize the power from each panel.

Polycrystalline panels are the least expensive and the performance isn’t too far behind monocrystalline panels at 15% to 17%. That makes them the best choice when your roof has plenty of room for a lot of panels.

Thin-film panels are made differently from crystalline panels and are much thinner and lighter, but their efficiency is much lower at around 11%. They are less expensive because their lighter weight makes them faster and easier to install, leading to lower labor costs during installation.

They are best suited for commercial premises with huge roofs that can’t carry much weight. For residential homes, thin-film is best again when a roof might not be able to take much weight, or when the shape of the roof does not allow the fitting of rectangular-shaped crystalline panels.

Roof direction

Ideally, you want to have a large section of roof that faces south because this is where the sunlight comes from in the northern hemisphere.

If you don’t have a roof directly facing south, those facing southeast or southwest also get plenty of sunshine. Even east or west-facing roofs may be workable for solar if there is no shading and you live in an area that regularly receives sunlight between the hours of 9.00 am and 3.00 pm.

Brackets can be added to the panels to make them sit at an angle to better catch sunlight. These don’t look as nice on a roof as panels that sit flatly on the roof.

No suitable roof

There are alternative arrangements available if your roof does not have suitable space or doesn’t face south. You can instead install the panels on another building on your property, or even build a carport to cover your car and at the same time hold solar panels.

An electrical cable will need to run from the panels to your home and connect with your fuse box.

You can even set up ground-mounted systems. These became extremely popular in Australia where many parts of the country receive a lot of sunshine. Where homes produced more electricity than they needed, electricity companies were buying the added power of the individual homeowners.

This encouraged homeowners to spend even more money and put up even more solar panels, including ground-mounted systems. This resulted in a passive source of income for the homeowners with many of them borrowing to buy the extra solar panels.

However, problems arose when too many homeowners began producing too much electricity and the electricity companies were paying more back than they were earning. They had to cancel the payback schemes and many homeowners ended up with more solar panels than they needed.

Roof materials

If your roof is made of asphalt shingles, corrugated metal sheets, standing seam, clay tile, and rubber roofs, solar panels can be attached.

Roofs made from slate and wooden shingles are not so easy. These materials are quite brittle and often can’t withstand the weight of the panels.

Sometimes different mounting components can be used on cedar and slate roofs, this will make installation take longer and more expensive.

Roof condition

Most solar panels are guaranteed for 25 years and may continue working perfectly for many years beyond that. But if your roof needs replacing within a few years, it will be best to repair the roof before installing solar panels.

Alternatively, you could have your solar panels installed on your roof then after just a few years need to face the extra costs or remove the panels and then reinstall them after the roof has been repaired.

Roof style and slope

The ideal roof for solar has a large rectangular area free of any chimneys or vents. Unfortunately, homes made before the popularity of solar were rarely designed like that.

Installers are used to working with a variety of roof styles and know how to work their way around features like dormers, skylights, turrets, and chimneys. Drain pipes can even be moved to accommodate the panels.

The ideal angle to the sun is between 20 to 30 degrees, or steeper the further north you are. Not only is this good for maximizing the power of the sun, but also makes it easy for rainwater to run off the panels.


Items on your roof that could create shade on your panels should be removed or shifted. This could include TV aerials and satellite dishes.

More important is to ensure there are no tall trees that block the sun to your roof area where the panels are to go.

You also need to be aware of shorter trees that could grow over a few years and create shade. Tall buildings nearby would be obvious, but less obvious is what ability some property developer must put a high-rise building next door to you, between you and the sun, or a neighbor who decides to add an extra floor to their home, again locking sunlight from your roof.

Check with your local building regulations, to ensure this can never happen to you.

Fortunately, a reputable solar panel installer can visit your home and check out all these issues for you and recommend workarounds or extra costs if any of these issues might affect you.

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