Is Your Roof Equipped for Solar Panels in San Diego?
Solar panels can be installed on most properties in the county, from Pomona to Imperial Beach, but the state of your roof will have a big impact on the ease of the job. The shape, size, and even the direction your rooftop faces will inform the advice you get from your solar provider and the bid you receive. A lot of Southern California roofs have signature clay tiles in keeping with a Spanish aesthetic, but your San Diego home may have asphalt, slate or other materials on top.
Before you start shopping for solar panels, get a consultation from a San Diego roofing company. A professional team will be able to point out any potential obstacles to solar on your roof and construct a creative workaround. At the end of the day, with some planning and perseverance nearly any San Diego roof can turn our 266 annual days of sunshine into a renewable energy source.
Deal with Obstacles on Your Roof
The first and most obvious thing to check on your roof is the presence of clear obstacles to a panel installation. Do you have a chimney, skylights, vents, or a television satellite that could get in the way? Some things, like a chimney, can’t be moved to accommodate solar panels. Other issues, such as a tall neighboring shade tree, can be altered to make room for your new solar system.
If you have limited roof space due to skylights and other obstacles you may want to go with more efficient solar panels, which tend to be smaller. In any case, it’s vital to have an inspection of your roof to identify any obstacles so that you and your solar provider can create a game plan and order the appropriate materials from the start. Eliminating as much shade as possible is important to yielding full power from your panels.
Talk About Roof Shape with Your Provider
Most homeowners don’t take the time to learn it, but your roof shape has a name. There are three main types of roofs: hip, gable, and flat. Some roof types are more conducive to using solar panels than others, but a good solar provider will take your roof shape and make it work. Each type has its own pros and cons:
Hip Roof: A hip roof is a style in which the roof slopes on all four sides and create a tall peak at the top. The slopes work in favor of solar panels, because they provide the necessary tilt, but the surfaces can be on the small side depending on the design of your home. These roofs can also have an unusual shape with some unusable surface area.
Gable Roof: A gable roof is sometimes called a peak or pitch roof, and it has two sloping sides that meet in the middle to create a triangle shape. Solar panels typically have plenty of surface area to work with on a gable roof. These roofs also shed water easily, so your panels will never experience pooling water underneath.
Flat Roof: Flat roofs are common on some home types in San Diego — primarily condo complexes. While solar panels don’t work best when installed flat, your provider can use tilts to position solar panels at an advantageous angle on a flat roof. You shouldn’t rule out solar if you are working with a flat surface area.
Use a Solar-Friendly Material for Your San Diego Roofing
Some roofing materials are better for solar panels than others. Fortunately, the most commonly used roofing materials in San Diego are ideal for solar panel installations. The only shingles and tiles to avoid are brittle materials like wood and slate, which can easily break while affixing solar panels. Your solar provider will advise you about whether or not your roof is currently covered in a surface that is compatible with solar panels.
Spanish Clay: Spanish clay tiles are great for solar panels. They’re also everywhere you look in San Diego County. Standard mounts can penetrate this type of tile, so they’re a good choice for a home that goes solar. Many installers can even create a special mount built into clay to make adding solar panels even easier.
Asphalt: A roof with asphalt (often a flat roof) can also work with solar panels. A standard panel mount will easily attach to an asphalt rooftop. Asphalt/composite shingles are also quite popular on slanted rooftops, and you shouldn’t have an issue adding panels to these shingles.
Metal with Standing Seam: Metal roofs with a standing seam are very friendly to solar installation. In many cases the panels can be clamped to the seams so providers don’t have to attach the panels to the metal roof itself.
Fix Bad Tiles and Other Roof Problems
If your roof is old, it may not be ready for solar panels just yet. Imagine investing thousands of dollars in a solar setup, only to have your roof reach the end of its life within two years: You would have to remove the solar panels to fix or replace your roof and then install them all over again. It’s better to ensure that your roof and solar panels have a similar life cycle whenever possible. A good rule of thumb is that any roof more than 10 years old could need repairs or replacement prior to going solar.
The good news is that Spanish tiles could last on your San Diego roof for up to 50 years, and new solar panels could last for about 40 years. If you get a roof replacement and solar installation now, you’re probably set for your entire ownership of the property. Aside from broken tiles and leaks, you should also address any punctures and penetrations, issues with ponding water, and cracked flashing.
Orient Solar Panels For Maximum Sun Exposure
The best direction for solar panels to face is true south. If that’s not possible, southeast and southwest orientations can still yield excellent and reliable solar power. You can also position your solar panels facing east or west, but you may not be able to enjoy the full potential of your renewable energy.
While you can’t rotate your home, there may be some things you can do to prepare your roof for solar panels so they face the best possible direction. As mentioned previously, installers can install a stand that tilts the panels. This may help a panel on an eastern roof point closer to the southeast. You could also to remove obstacles on a south facing part of your roof to make room for the panels.
Make Sure You Have Enough Space for Solar Panels
It would be a shame to get your heart set on a brand new set of solar panels only to discover that you just don’t have the square footage on your roof. As a general rule, for every Kw of solar generated for your home, you need 100 square feet of roof space. Most homes can thrive with a 5Kw system.
If an original assessment determines you don’t have enough space for solar panels, you have a few options. You can get a smaller system and rely partially on regular grid power, consider covering a skylight or addressing other obstacles, or look into installing ground-mounted solar panels. Installing solar panels in your yard isn’t as common as using roof-mounted setups, but if you have the property to spare it could solve a lot of issues. Ground panels can not only compensate for a lack of adequate roofing, they also help if you have too much shade on your roof that can’t be changed (such as from a tall building next door).
Ready to update your San Diego roofing with some shiny solar panels? You’re not alone! Becoming energy independent is more and more popular in the Golden State. In fact, most new-build homes will be powered by solar beginning in 2020. Get ahead of the trend by installing solar now (and taking advantage of one of the last years for the Solar Investment Tax Credit).
Contact Semper Solaris today to learn more about getting solar panels in San Diego. You can receive a no-pressure bid, and our experienced team will talk to you about the state of your roof along with the potential of solar. We are also ready to help you with a roof replacement if you need it!