Solar Installation on Different Types of Roofs 0

Solar panels are useful installations for homes and commercial units when it comes to energy efficiency. Other than providing energy for cooking, solar lights and other accessories are popular amongst property owners.

The initial costs of installation may run into thousands of dollars. However, it’s a money saver in the long term. According to the people at, installing solar panels in ones home may seem a financial burden initially, with initial costs ranging from around $10,000 to $14,000, but over 20 years (from 2018-2038) the average reduction in electricity costs for an individual home, depending on which state you live in, is estimated to be up to $30,000 in savings.

Most property owners worry about the mounting of solar panels on their roofs, which a justified concern is considering the cost of installing a new roof. However, this shouldn’t pose a big problem since solar installers are licensed and adhere to all the necessary guidelines.

As a professional, you’ll find that solar panel installation methods differ depending on the roof type. How do you determine the type of mount or tools to use? Here, we look at the type of roofs and the type of installation. Keep reading.

Tiled roofs

The tiled roof is most common, especially in urban areas. It consists of different materials and comes in different varieties. There are metal tiles, concrete tiles, ceramic tiles, stone tiles, composite tiles, bituminous tiles, and polymer-sand tiles.

The installation process involves removing the tiles and attaching the hooks alongside the flashing back to the roof to hold the solar panel. 

Spanish tiles are expensive to replace since you’ll need to break the tiles before installation. It can take time, and there will need to replace the broken tiles. On the other hand, Clay tiles require a great deal of work before installing a solar panel so that to offer a water-tight barrier.

During installation, there are several things you need to check;

  • Start by thoroughly inspecting the roof for fairly common cracks, which may hamper the entire process. If you notice a crack, you may need to seal it using an adhesive material or silicone.
  • Typically, a tiled roof has an underlayment or a protective layer underneath. You’ll find that installers take responsibility for the installation. Before you take ownership, it’s critical to evaluate the underlayment and its current condition. It protects the building from rain, sleet, and snow, and a worn-out, rotten, cracked, or deteriorating underlayment can cause leaking.
  • Inspect whether there’s a pest infestation on the roofs. Pests such as squirrels, packrats, and bats are likely to make a home on tiled roofs. Unfortunately, they can damage your tiles, and this can lead to water leaking, which consequently damages the underlying structure and waterproofing.
  • Before you install the panel, inspect if there are any holes in the room in the roof or attic. Moreover, you can assess as to whether; there have been previous incidences of cracking.
  • Broken tiles need replacement before the installation of a solar system. You can discuss with the property owner the possibility of replacing damaged tiles. Luckily some solutions offer solar flashing as a perfect substitute for replacing the damaged tile.
  • In this method, consider replacing the tiles with asphalt shingles, which involves mounting the solar then installing the tile by enclosing the solar so that it looks like an array.
  • To prevent wind from pulling away from the plywood, you can mount brackets into the rafters so that it holds the solar array in place.
  • Tiles are naturally heavy, and since you wouldn’t want to interfere with the structural integrity of the building, survey the roof set up. In this way, you can form a valid option as to whether there’s a need for additional weight.

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Metal Roofs

Majority of property owners love metal roofs since they are long-lasting and eco-friendly. In most cases, properly maintained metal roofs would outlive the solar panels. 

This type of installation is ideal for people looking for a low-budget solution. Since metal roofs are durable, chances of leaking are low, and this eliminates the need for regular inspection and subsequently costs.

Installers will agree that metal roofs are the easiest when it comes to mounting the solar panels only if there’s a standing seam. Asphalt shingles roofing require flashing and other sealants to ensure there’s no water leakage. The reason being, solar panels are attached by drilling holes to the shingles and using bolts to secure.

A metal roof has an upright seam running down it and is great for installing a solar panel. Thankfully, unlike the tiles, you don’t need to drill any holes since you can use a clamp to secure the standing seam. A standing seam provides room for air circulation underneath the solar array which boosts its efficiency.

However, it can get complicated since there are different types of metal roofs with varying strictures. Each type can impact the installation process.

For the case of corrugated metal roofs, the solar panel mounts at its peak. In this way, you can position the clamp at the ridge so that it’s far away from the water flow or channel. For these types of roofs, you’ll need to drill holes and hence the need for a waterproofing solution.

For trapezoidal roofs, the panel mounts well on the flat surface in the middle of the ridges. Hence you don’t need a sealant material for protecting against water seepage.

Tar and Gravel Roof

Tar and Gravel roof is traditional and consists of interchanging blocks of asphalt and, in some instances, tar.

For support, some materials are mounted on the roof, and this increases the weight of the building. Hence, it can get a little complicated installing a solar panel on this kind of roof, and you may need to use braces for reinforcement.

Before you do a solar panel installation on asphalt shingles roof, flashing placements is a critical step. It helps protect the integrity and warranty of the roof. Additionally, it prevents potential water leakage that can lead to roof damage and the growth of molds.

Before you install a solar panel on an asphalt roof, you’ll need to consider the following.

  • Inspect the roof while paying attention to the manufacturer’s recommendation about flashing installation. Quite often, flashing protects the roof plane from infiltration by water. As an installer, you need to identify the type of roofing on your client’s property and counter check with the manufacturer’s approval before setting up flashing.
  • With so many brands selling flashing material, it’s critical to consider the quality of the flashing material to get real value. Such a product should be corrosion resistant, have waterproofing qualities, durable, and an easy to install.

Flashing guarantees the lifespan of the solar panel, and an elevated unit will divert the water flow. Even better, a wide flashing gives room for errors as you try to locate the rafters for easy assembly.

  • Additionally, consider the thickness of the shingles before assembling flashings. A thicker shingle will need a raised flashing to minimize curling. Also, a wider flashing keeps the away rainwater from reaching the elevation.
  • Consider the quality of the sealant material to apply to the drilled holes. You can check the manufacturer’s recommendation to maintain the warranty.
  • Ensure that the flashing doesn’t extend to the edge of the shingle as this can lead to the accumulation of debris, leaves, and other stuff. With time, these can rot and damage the roofing, thereby increasing the cost of roof replacement. Additionally, ensure there’s no disruption to the water flow. Lucking flashing can be elevated to allow for water to divert.
  • Lastly, don’t remove the rails on the shingles as this can interfere with the structure of the asphalt. Typically manufacturers of these roofs recommend a certain number of nails. Although some flashing installers will prefer to remove the fasteners, you can interlock the flashing to locate the nails. Then, using tin snips, cut the V-notch for proper installation of the flashing on the shingles.

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Wood Roofs

A wooden roof is stylish and classic. Whereas you can install a solar panel on wood, there’s a need for extra precaution to prevent damage. Wood is delicate and brittle and hence prone to breakages. The installation is simple since there are fasteners underneath the wood that secures the panels.

Installing a solar panel is a sensitive affair that may involve the authorities. Before you install, it’s essential to check with your jurisdiction since some states/counties/locations regard solar panels as fire hazards. There is a way out of such a prohibition since you can opt for re-roofing with a different material.

Some states may offer a tax credit if the re-roofing is done to install a solar panel. With this in mind, you can advise your client on the options available. If re-roofing is not an option, the client can do a ground mount if there’s more enough space where there’s ample sunlight exposure. Also, other roof options such as the patio, garage, or shed offer an excellent choice.

If the situation allows, then as a solar installer, you can begin the solar installation process. Most wooden roofs have an underlayment layer between the wooden rows. The first step is the insertion of log bolts to the frames so that it becomes easy to slip the flashing and form a durable seal without damaging the wood. Next, to avoid damaging the roof, join the solar panels to the rafters instead of directly to the roof.

To prevent adding more weight directly on the wood roofing, don’t install it directly on the roof but elevate it above.

Flat Roof

A flat roof works the same way as the classic solar panels only that the roof is flat. They are common in high-rise buildings and large big-box properties. They are easy to install since you’ll only drill a few holes.

The advantage of flat roofs is that they are flexible, unlike the sloppy options. During installations, there’s no need to consider roof orientation and angle in solar panel design. You can orientate the panels to face any direction to maximize energy production.

It’s essential to check on the warranty requirements when installing a solar panel on a flat roof. Water may seep between the glass and the frame. You may need specialized tools to tilt the panel to ensure optimum exposure to the sun and protect the panel.

Although it’s easy to install, some problems can arise in the future, such as the accumulation of dirt and water runoff. Some installers implore the use of ballast to secure the panels. In this way, you’ll not need the drill the roof.

A Flat roof can also be in the form of a Torch-Down roof, which comes in a low-angle design. These are expensive due to resistivity to weather conditions. Also, they tend to last longer as compared to ordinary roofing.

Due to their high value, it’s essential to exercise care during installation and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Such roofs will need a ballasted solar system so that as to protect the existing membrane and warranty.

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Foam Roofs

These types of roofs are incredibly lightweight and seamless. Surprisingly they are durable, easy to install, and energy-efficient. Foams help preserve heat during winter conditions.

When installing panels on a foam roof, you’ll realize it’s easy to work with, and there’s less hassle. Due to lightweight nature, the overall weight will not increase after combining with the solar panel.

Foam roofs have excellent waterproofing qualities and don’t soak water. 

Before you install, recoat the current foam, which involves cleaning the roof. It helps in embedding the brackets so that they form a secure barrier to prevent water infuriation.

When installing, start by drilling the holes in the rafters. Then, secure your mount with bolts and consequently seal the area. Lastly, fasten the panel and the mount.


Installing solar panels on different types of roofs require certain skills. From our discussion, metal roofs are the easiest to install since they have standing seams on the structural components. They are also cheaper, and you may not need extra sealing to protect against water seepage. 

Since most clients worry about the damage of their roofs by the panels, it’s essential to check on the manufacturer’s warranty or recommendation before installation. Also, check with the local authorities on the rules regarding solar panel installation on different types of roofs.

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