Can Your Roof Support Solar Panels? (Experts Explain)

March 9, 2023

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Can your home’s roof support solar panels and their attached racking and wiring systems? This is a vital question to consider before investing in solar for your home! While solar panels are relatively lightweight, some roofs aren’t good candidates for solar installations.

To better understand this situation, consider some added details about solar installations and a home’s roof. Then you can discuss your property with a roof repair contractor near you as needed. They can ensure your home’s roof is ready for those new solar panels!

Can Any Roof Support Solar Panels?

To better understand if a roof can support solar panels, note how a contractor installs these. First, they measures a roof and checks its overall slope, obstructions, and the like.

Second, a contractor installs a solar racking system to fit that roof and hold solar panels. This racking system consists of metal rails, resembling a bedframe, that hold those panels in place.

A contractor attaches this racking system to the roof decking, or the plywood under the roof’s underlayment. To do this, they drill through the shingles or tiles and the insulating layer under those materials. Then, they bolt that racking system in place and adds gaskets or sealants to cover those openings.

With this in mind, consider a few reasons why your roof might not support solar panels. One reason is that worn-out and brittle tiles or shingles might crack during the drilling process. Two, damaged underlayment and decking might also crack when drilled. Also, covering areas of mold or algae blocks sunlight, which inhibits their growth, risking them spreading more quickly.

Lastly, note that a roofing contractor might need to remove that racking system to make needed repairs. In turn, it’s often best to address these fixes before investing in solar panels! A new roof typically doesn’t need repairs for years if not decades. Consequently, your roofer or solar installer won’t need to remove and then reinstall those panels if you make roof repairs first.

We recommend a roof replacement to many customers who are opting for solar.


new roof installation for solar

How Do I Know If My Roof Can Support Solar Panels?

A solar panel installer or roofer can tell you if your home’s roof can support solar panels. They will usually inspect those tiles or shingles and note their overall condition. They also might look for storm or water damage, missing shingles, bent flashing, and mold or algae growth.

Additionally, a homeowner might note a roof’s age. Roofs over ten years old usually start showing some signs of wear and tear. Once a roof reaches 20 or 30 years, it might need repairs or replacing before a solar installation.

How Much Weight Do Solar Panels Add to a Roof?

Most solar panels weigh 2 to 4 pounds per square foot, or about 40 pounds total for an average panel. Also, note that many homeowners invest in 20 to 25 panels on average. In turn, your solar power system might add about 800 pounds to your home’s roof overall.

While this isn’t typically enough to collapse a roof, it can risk premature damage to shingles, tiles, and underlayment. Also, consider that a roof’s decking also holds only so much weight before cracking and chipping. Drilling into those materials can also risk damage if they’re not in good condition already. Lastly, the more panels you install, the heavier your entire solar system!

Can Solar Panels Collapse a Roof?

Solar panel installation rarely collapses a roof. However, this doesn’t mean it can’t happen! Extremely old or weak roofs might risk sagging and then collapsing under the weight of solar panels. Also, improper installation methods might damage decking so that it cracks and sags and eventually collapses.

Additionally, poor-quality installation might risk leaks and resultant water damage. When decking and other roof materials absorb water, they weaken and risk collapsing. To avoid these risks, invest in the services of a quality solar installer. Moreover, ensure your home’s roof is in good condition before choosing solar.


building a roof

What Roofs Are Not Suitable for Solar Panels?

Roofs in poor condition aren’t typically suitable for solar panels, at least not until they’re repaired or replaced. However, there are some other factors to consider when it comes to a roof holding solar panels, for instance:

  • Steep roofs might not hold panels at the angle needed for capturing sunlight. In turn, those panels might produce so little solar power that they’re not worth the expense.
  • Roofs without much sun exposure might also be unsuitable for solar installation. As an example, nearby billboards, high rises, and other obstructions might block sunlight from reaching a roof.
  • Drilling through brittle slate or wood risks splitting and other damage. In many cases, a solar contractor might advise against installing panels on these materials.

Lastly, note that your solar panel contractor can determine your roof’s suitability for solar. Also, they can determine if that roof can hold enough panels or capture enough sunlight to make solar a good investment for your property.

Can You Make a Roof More Suitable for Solar Panel Installation?

Performing needed repairs such as replacing shingles and decking, helps prepare a roof for solar panels. Also, a roofing contractor might strengthen the roof trusses and other pieces with added bracing. If there’s too much shade over a roof, consider if you can address that. Trimming back tree branches and removing satellite dishes and other obstructions can help!

Lastly, consider if a solar panel installation is a good opportunity to replace the roof as needed. For instance, mold and algae growth typically damage shingles and other materials easily. In turn, you might invest in both reroofing and then solar installation. This allows you to enjoy solar power and a strong, sturdy roof overhead!

The Cranston Roofers is happy to help explain about roof support for solar panels. Hopefully, we’ve answered some of your questions. Also, visit our blog posts for more roofing tips and advice! If you’re ready for expert fixes, call our Cranston roof repair contractors. We can schedule a FREE inspection and price estimate at your earliest convenience. Whatever you need for a strong roof on your property, we do it all!

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