Is My Roof Strong Enough for Solar Panels?

If you want to install solar panels in your home then first you will need to find out how much do solar panels weigh and if it is possible for your roof to endure the weight of the solar panels. By contacting a solar panel installer you will get to know all the requirements and details regarding the roof materials, conditions, etc. 

To generate electricity for all the appliances available at your residence you need to install multiple solar panels on your roof and you can also use the excess electricity generated from the solar panels to earn some income by sending them to the nearby grid of the utility company. In order to install multiple solar panels your roof needs to be robust and spacious enough to endure the weight of the solar panels for a long time. 

In this article, we will discuss all the important factors you need to know about your roof before installing solar panels. We will also discuss how much space you will require, and how much weight your roof needs to handle while you have installed solar panels on your roof. 

Things to consider before solar panel installation on your roof

First of all, you need to know if your roof has enough space to accommodate solar panels, for which you will have to understand the total amount of space available and how much space your solar panels will take. 

While considering the exact amount of solar panels you will require, you should put special emphasis on the following factors:

  • Overall energy consumption: The amount of energy consumption at your residence will be proportional to the number of solar panels you will require at your residence. If your consumption is high then you need to have more solar panels with higher efficiency and it will definitely require more space. 
  • Amount of sunlight received by your roof: If your roof receives a good amount of sunlight then installing fewer solar panels with higher efficiency will be good enough to power up your property.
  • The efficiency of the solar panels: The efficiency of solar panels is extremely important because if your solar panels are efficient enough then you will need to install a limited number of solar panels on your roof. As a result, you will require less space and won’t have to worry about the weight of the solar panels.
Things to consider before solar panel installation on your roof

If you have correctly determined the total number of solar panels you will need to install on your roof, you will be able to decipher the exact square footage of your roof space the solar system will inhabit. 

For example, you can multiply 17.55 square feet (which is the general size of the solar panels) and multiply it by the total number of solar panels you need to find out the total space required. Usually, in a country like the United States people need at least 19 to 23 solar panels in order to match their electricity consumption which ultimately requires around 335 to 405 square feet of space. 

Roof-mounted solar panels: How much do solar panels weigh?

The actual weight of solar panels ideal for roof installation depends on the manufacturing brand and the model. Although the usual weight of the solar panels is not on the heavier side, nevertheless, it is constructed in such a way that they can easily resist multiple environmental pressures such as rain, snowfall, storm, etc. 

The 60-cell PV solar panels normally weigh between 35 pounds and 45 pounds and their weight is equally distributed between the surface area of the solar panels. The dimensions of this kind of solar panel are approximately 5.5 feet by 3.25 feet and the amount of pressure it will give on your roof is 2.3 pounds per square foot.

On the other hand, the weight of the 72-cell panels is a bit higher in comparison to the 60-cell PV solar panels. Nevertheless, the total weight of the solar panels is equally distributed (and it also has a larger surface area), so the weight per square foot of this type of solar panel usually remains the same. If you are going for the 72-cell panels they will weigh more than 50 pounds and their dimensions will be 6.6 feet by 3.25 feet.

You also need to note that both 60-cell PV solar panels and 72-cell PV solar panels can be used for residential installations purposes but for commercial installations purposes you can only select the 72-cell PV solar panels.

The total amount of roof space required

Usually, the area of space in a roof remains almost 1700 square feet, and as mentioned earlier the average solar system installation on the top needs 405 square feet which means the normal roof size is typically four times the required amount of solar panels.

However, there are multiple things that can obstruct the installation of solar panels such as skylights, chimneys, and vents. These objects can prevent sunlight from going into the solar panels. Moreover, panels cannot span ridges and valleys, limiting the area that can be used on your roof.

You also need to keep in mind that without direct sunlight solar panels won’t be able to function properly. Typically the north-facing areas and the shady areas of your roof will not be able to generate the expected amount of energy. Although insufficient sunlight may not completely hamper your objective of installing solar panels and utilizing the same to generate electricity, you may have to install more solar panels and utilize more roof space than you normally require. 

Is my roof suited for solar panel installation?

Installing a solar system comes with a plethora of benefits but at the same time you will need to configure how much does solar panels weigh and if your roof can withstand the pressure or not. You can confirm the same by first checking your electricity requirements which will help you understand the exact size of your solar system and the amount of usable roof space you currently have. 

There is also an online solar calculator available on the internet which can help you get a clear estimation of your solar system depending on your utility bill as well as topographical location. You can further consult with a local installer to find out a solution regarding your solar system installation.

Final words

The best method to determine if your rooftop is good enough for installing solar panels is by consulting a professional solar installer. They know how much solar panels weigh and by scrutinizing your rooftop along with your monthly electricity consumption they will be able to help you understand if your roof is perfectly suited for a solar system or not. You can also reach out to multiple solar installer companies to help you get an estimation. 

Frequently asked questions

Can solar panels go on any roof?

Yes, solar panels can be installed on almost any roof. However, it would be best utilized if you are installing it on a south-facing roof. You can also install solar panels on southeast and southwest-facing roofs but they will be 15% less efficient in comparison to the south-facing roofs. 

How much weight can solar panels load on a roof?

As per EnergySage, the solar system available in the market which also includes PV modules, other hardware components as well as mounting racks can give a load of 3 to 4 pounds per square foot. You also need to note that commercial and residential roofs have the ability to endure at least 20 pounds per square foot.

What type of roof is best for solar panels?

The most appropriate kind of roof that can effectively support solar panels is a standing metal roof. Due to the standing seam, you can easily install solar panels without needing to drill. Moreover, your installation cost will also become cheaper than usual. However, remember not to install it on roofs made up of wood and slate. 

What happens when a roof is too heavy?

If you put too much stress on your roof it will definitely weaken the entire structure of your home and it can also damage the foundations of your residence. Therefore, it is important for you to ensure that the solar system you are planning to install in your home will not put too much stress on the overall structure of your residence. 

How much force can a solar panel withstand?

Most solar panels that are easily available in the market can endure 2400 pascals which can be compared to the wind speed of 140 MPH. However, the level of durability can differ according to the solar laws of the country or the region of your residence. 

In this article, we have discussed what everyone needs to know before thinking about installing a solar panel on the rooftop, what is the exact space the usual homes require, and what are things that can increase the number of solar panels in your home, and what are best materials for your roof if you want to install solar panels. 

Meet the Authors

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Dax Linwood is a knowledgeable and experienced writer in the field of renewable energy, with a core expertise in solar energy. With a passion for sustainability and a commitment to advancing the adoption of clean energy, Dax's writing is both informative and engaging. He has worked on numerous solar energy projects, including solar panel installation and maintenance, and has a deep understanding of the technology and its benefits. Dax's expertise and dedication to the renewable energy industry make him a valuable resource for those looking to learn more about solar energy and its impact on the environment.

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