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 In Preparation, Solar Advice, Solar Panels

Best Place To Put Solar Panels: On Your Roof

 

If you’re reading this post, perhaps you’ve decided to switch to solar (or at least, you’re seriously considering it!) Good for you – you’re ready to harness some sunshine, lower your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint while you’re at it.

But where will you put your shiny new Solar PV system? Most likely, the best place to put solar panels is on your roof – but how exactly will that look?

In this post, we’ll share a few quick tips to help you make your solar panel installation as seamless and as effective as possible. Including:

  • The assessment process: how to maximise solar potential, depending on your roof type
  • How many panels you’ll need: and how much roof space is required
  • Design, direction & condition: plus one alternative to solar roof tiles
  • Dealing with obstacles: and how to access more light

 

The Assessment: How To Capture More Sunlight

 

The rooftop of most buildings is an ideal foundation for installing solar PV panels – because that’s typically where the most sunlight will reach and where you, the homeowner, can capture more solar energy.

However, as roofs differ from home to home, one Solar PV roof system might look different to a house down the street. So before making any structural changes to your property, we’d advise working with an experienced installation company to check a) whether your home is a good candidate for solar panels and b) whether your roof is capable of holding the extra weight. (If not, keep reading for an alternative to rooftop panels!)

A good installer will advise you on the best ways to capture more sunlight: typically, by filling up your available roof space and angling the panels to absorb as much solar power as possible throughout the year. During the initial assessment, your provider will consider your roof’s:

  • Pitch angle
  • Direction
  • Shape
  • Size
  • Roof type/surface

Based on their findings, they’ll offer a few recommendations: like how many panels you might need, what size system might be best for your household’s energy requirements and any improvements you could make to your roof.

Psst…At Caldor Solar, we’ve been assessing rooftops and their solar potential since 2015 – that’s a long time in the solar technology world! We can bring this extensive experience and knowledge to help you find the right system for your individual needs. So if you’d like support with figuring out the best place to put solar panels on your roof, get in touch.

How Many Panels Do I Need?

When considering installing solar panels on your roof, you might wonder how many panels you’ll need. Well, typically, we would recommend filling whatever roof space you have to optimise your energy output – but how many panels you’ll need depends on a few other factors, starting with your annual energy consumption. We explore this and some other factors to bear in mind in this post

Another question to consider is: how much weight can your roof hold? Few of us may have considered the strength of our roof before – unless it’s been during a particularly nasty bout of storms! 

But it’s worth asking, is your roof strong and sturdy enough to support Solar PV systems? And if so, what is the best size system for your particular roof? Again, we can help you answer these questions to find the best solution for your home.

The good news is, it’s never been a more cost-effective time to invest in solar. Since May 2023, the Irish government introduced a zero VAT rate on the supply and installation of solar panels in Ireland (more on that in this post). Plus, the Microgeneration Support Scheme, including the Clean Export Guarantee (CEG), means that homeowners can actually earn additional income from solar – by selling excess power back to the grid.

Roof Design, Orientation & Condition

The orientation of your home, plus its design and layout, all have a direct impact on the amount of solar power it can generate. South-facing roofs typically receive the most hours of sunlight while those with a 30-degree angle are perfect for soaking it up. This is known as “roof pitch” – and the best roof pitch angle for solar panels in Ireland is between 30 and 40 degrees.

Still, sometimes we need to simply work with what we have, as best as we can. At Caldor Solar, we know that solar panels can still work from a 15-degree angle – and that even flat roofs can produce a decent amount of energy if they can capture sunlight well. (Psst…More on how you can maximise your roof space and pitch in the next section.)

Although it makes sense that larger roofs can produce more solar power – as they can hold more panels and a larger system – homeowners with a small amount of space shouldn’t be discouraged. You can still generate a significant portion of your household’s energy needs with solar; again, it’s just about finding the right support to help you work with what you’ve got.

And if your home doesn’t face to the south, that’s ok, too. Because while in terms of kWh of power, a south-facing roof will generate more home electricity, you might actually get more value out of placing your solar panels to the east or west instead (or a combination of the two). This way, your panels would generate more power in the morning and evening, during the times when your family might need it most: for instance, to heat water.

Again, it depends on your needs, circumstances and patterns of energy consumption, which is why the assessment process is so important.

How old is your roof? And what state is it in?

Before installing panels on your roof, it’s worth considering how old it is. Traditional solar panels can last over 25 years, after all – so if you have an old roof that might need replacing soon, you should really look into that first. Why? Well, because removing and reinstalling panels will end up cutting into the savings they’ve helped you to make in the first place! Not to mention, you want to make sure the roof you have is capable of holding that extra weight. 

As a typical panel weighs about 30kg when installed, you’re talking around 300kg for a 10-panel solar PV system – which needs a structurally sound, well-maintained roof to support it. So either make sure you’re a) installing your panels on a new enough roof or b) fix/upgrade your roof before embarking down the path of solar panel installations. 

Of course, if your roof isn’t an option, you could always explore integrated solar systems elsewhere. For instance, a ground-mounted PV system would mean the bigger your garden, the more panels you could install. You would need to construct a solid base first, and your chosen area couldn’t be too far from your home – but your installation company could talk you through this during your initial assessment.

Dealing With Obstacles To Access More Light

We’ve mentioned that larger roofs can generate more solar power – but this isn’t always the case. Because even a large roof space can be taken up by skylights, windows and pipes – or thrown into shade by surrounding trees, your neighbour’s chimney or other buildings. And since your solar panels act as one system, shading on even one panel can negatively affect the performance of the lot. You could offset this risk by installing an optimiser on the panel in question – although it’s perhaps better to simply keep your panels free from shade if possible.

If you notice that your roof has limited access to light, how can you maximise its solar potential? Maybe it will mean placing the PV panels somewhere else, or removing whatever obstacles you can. We’d recommend seeking the help of a good installation company for this, as they are experts in the assessment process and can help you find the best placement options.

Don’t worry, we would never ask you to get in a neighbours’ tiff by doing anything to their chimney! But perhaps a polite request to trim back trees could go a long way. 

Oh, and if the tree that’s blocking sunlight from your roof is on your property, there’s always the option to remove it. Sure, it sounds counterproductive from an environmental standpoint. But think about how much you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint on an ongoing basis – as you reduce your reliance on fossil fuels, seek clean energy alternatives and contribute to a greener, more sustainable future.

You can also help your solar panels work more efficiently, wherever you have placed them, by:

  • Checking them regularly for any damage (because accidents, while rare, can happen) and repairing them immediately if necessary
  • Keeping them clean and free of dirt, bird droppings, leaves and twigs
  • Using an established solar panel supplier and installer, who’ll provide both technical support and ongoing maintenance 

Final Thoughts: Hit The Roof!

In this post, we’ve talked about how the best place to put solar panels on your roof is, ideally, at a 30-degree angle, facing the south (or a combination of east-west orientation, depending on your energy usage), without any obstacles like skylights or shade getting in the way.

Still, your home comes with its own design, just like your household comes with its own energy consumption levels and needs. So before working out where you’ll place your panels on your roof, get up there to check it out – with the help of an expert. 

The good news is that PV panels can be integrated into most Irish roofs, from pitched to flat and from many directions. And if, for some reason, your roof won’t work for solar panel installation, you could still consider having ground-mounted solar panels elsewhere on your property.

If you need more advice around solar panel installation, or a little creative planning around your move to renewable energy, get in touch – our team would be happy to talk you through a few options to help you on your journey.

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Caldor Solar are solar power pioneers in Ireland, specialising in both residential and commercial solar panels. Check out our testimonials and online reviews to learn more. Or chat with us on 01 253 3349 for a personalised quote for your home. 

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