Solar Panels on a Flat Roof: 5 Things to Know

By Sam Baker
January 11, 2017
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Yes, you can successfully have solar panels installed on the flat roof of your home or business. Flat roofs have a minimal slope allowance that will accommodate solar PV panel systems. A roof having a rise of 0.25 inches over a 12-inch run is known as a ¼:12 pitch roof. These flat roofs are also commonly known as:

  • Low pitch roofs
  • Low slope applications

Solar panel installers are presented with a number of challenges when designing and installing flat roof solar panels.

We covered flat roofs and solar on Pick My Solar LIVE! Skip to 12:15 to hear Rex and Patrick discuss the main solar solutions for different kinds of flat roofing.

Design and installation challenges of flat roof solar panels encompass the constraints and considerations around valleys and ridges for drainage. To be worth it, consider the positioning and construction of various structures existing on your roof before the design and installation process begins.

  • Drains
  • Vents
  • Exhaust fans
  • Rooftop units
  • Curbs
  • Parapets

Here’s a succinct summary of 5 things you need to know when contemplating the installation of solar panels on your flat roof.

1. You Can Do It!

Carefully considering the choices of flat roof mounting techniques available on the market is imperative. It just takes a bit of research by an expert energy engineer to get you on the right path to solar panel installation on your flat roof.

Just consider the best solar panel positioning.

2. Your Solar Panels May Or May Not Be Tilted

When installing solar panels on your flat roof, the resulting product can be tilted or not. There are two most pressing factors in the design of a successful solar panel system generating maximum electricity.

  • Solar panel tilt angle
  • Solar panel orientation

An optimum tilt angle and orientation of your solar panels on a flat roof will ensure top energy production performance of your system. Only top manufacturers give warranties on panels installed at an angle of less than two degrees. Although these warranties exist and make sense in some situations, you’ll need to weigh the production difference when installing your solar panels horizontally – or near horizontally.

3. There Are Higher Risks For Leakage Because Of Pooling

There are three options for installing solar panels on a flat roof to prevent leakage due to water pooling.

  • Attached (drilled into roof)
  • Ballasted (using weights to keep system in place – very minimal drilling)
  • Hybrid using both ballast and attachments

In the United States, optimal energy performance for solar panels on a flat roof can be achieved through any of the 3 flat roof solar panel options. Regardless of type of system, flat roof solar panels are possible because:

  • An array of solar panels can be leveled (leveled panels are visually appealing)
  • Tilt angle can be adjusted for performance after installation

An attached solution penetrates the roof’s surface and connects to its framing. The recommended method of solar panel installation to a flat roof is always determined by an experienced engineering review.

4. Recent Solar Technology Has Decreased The Likelihood Of Leakage

Some degree of tilt – 3 to 4 degrees – is best able to help keep solar panels clean when it rains. Flat roofs that are truly horizontal can be have a ballast or attached system put in place to create a pitch of at least 10 degrees. Technology has improved to install non-penetrating ballast systems to prevent leakage.

Horizontal panels do not have the capacity to self-clean like tilted panels. Dust and debris accumulation can interfere with electricity generation by up to 10 percent. Solar panels installed with just a slight angle will have a better chance of being washed clean by the rain.

5. Costs Are On Par With The Typical Pitched Roof

Not only are flat roofs a viable electricity producing surface, but the cost can be on par with that of a standard sloped roof installation. Maximize your electricity production and lower your monthly utility bill with flat roof solar panels in 2017.

Need To Find Solar Panel Installers?

Pick My Solar is a free online marketplace offering potential solar panel investors the best pricing quotes from competing installers. All fees for this renewable energy service are paid for by our solar panel suppliers.

Go solar with ease through Pick My Solar’s innovative online solar quote platform. All fees for this renewable energy service are paid for by our solar panel suppliers.

  • Most qualified solar installer in your local area
  • Trusted solar installer at the best price
  • Solar panel installation quotes without a barrage of sales calls

We are your one-stop shop for solar energy. Pick My Solar’s energy experts are available for one-on-one consultation Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Simply call 888.454.9979 – or – click the button below to discover more about how installing flat roof solar panels can help you save!

 

Sam Baker

Written By

Sam Baker

Sam is a Project Manager at Pick My Solar and a solar energy enthusiast.

More articles by Sam Baker

What's Pick My Solar? We empower our customers to adopt clean energy through transparency and choice. Our free, no-obligation platform provides competing solutions from top providers.

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