Not every home is a candidate for solar panels. You need to make sure your roof has enough sun exposure, enough space to accommodate panels, and the structural integrity to support a solar panel system. There are also some other considerations before it can be determined that adding solar power panels to your home is a wise investment.
To be a viable candidate for solar power, your roof should be exposed to sun throughout most of the day. Take a look at your roof or area you would want solar panels on, at periods throughout the day. It should get sun most of the day, the longer the period, the better. Roughly, 9 hours in winter, and 12 hours throughout summer months is a minimum.
The ideal location for solar panels is on south-facing roof that is fairly flat and doesn’t have a lot of obstructions such as chimneys, dormers, or vents. East- and west-facing roofs are also options because they usually get a lot of sun as well.
Keep in mind that nearby trees may be shading your roof, and cutting them down to increase sun exposure might be a solution.
Check Out Google’s Cool Tool
Google now offers a tool, Project Sunroof, which is an easy way to see if your home’s sun exposure is feasible for solar power. Project Sunroof is a solar calculator from Google that uses 3D imagery and location mapping to determine your roof’s solar savings potential. It uses Google Earth and Google Maps to create a 3D image of your home’s location, giving projected hours of sunlight, the square footage available for panel installation, and project savings with solar power. It basically determines how effective a solar system would be for your specific roof location.
Your roof also needs to have enough real estate to install enough solar panels to generate enough power for your needs. An average size roof to provide adequate space for solar panels is 400-600 square feet.
Generally, every square foot of roof space can generate about 15 watts of solar energy.
The average American household power usage typically needs around 18 to 24 panels to be effective. To get an idea of how many panels your roof can support, there’s an easy calculation you can do:
Multiply the square footage of your roof by .75. Take that number and divide it by 17.5, which is the average square footage of a standard solar panel. The resulting number is the maximum number of solar panels you can fit on your roof.
One of the calculations we will do during our evaluation of your roof, using a current electricity bill, is to determine if your roof has enough space to accommodate the panels needed to offset your current electricity demands. Of course, solar panels can also be used to supplement your energy usage as well.
The ideal roof for solar panels is a slanted or flat style roof that is clear of obstructions. Solar panels are installed best on shingled roof materials. Slate and clay roofing materials are usually too delicate to install or support a solar system.
Of course, your roof must be structurally strong enough to support a solar panel system. Homes built before 1998 were not required to have a roof structure to support current “snow load” mandates. If your home was built prior to 1998, the roof needs to be verified that it can support an 80-pound snow load. At Netmeter Solar, we have a structural engineer as part of our team who works with us to analyze roof systems to ensure structural integrity to support a solar panel installation.
If you feel confident that your home is a good candidate for solar panels, please contact us. While the information above can give you a rough estimate of the size of solar system you need, an exact determination depends on many factors. As a professional solar installer, we can help you figure out which type of solar system will work best for your needs and budget.