Installing a roof-mounted solar power system can be a great way for Oregon homeowners to slash their energy costs.
The rooftop of a house is often the ideal location for solar panels, as the surface usually gets ample sun exposure – enough to maximize their energy output, even on cloudy days. For most people, a rooftop array is the most practical and cost-effective option.
That being said, the roof of every Oregon home is unique, and some aren’t ready for solar power. Here’s what to consider if you’re planning a residential rooftop solar project.
How Old Is Your Home’s Roof?
The lifespan of a roof depends on the quality and type of material used, but as a general rule, most residential rooftops last for at least 20 years. If yours isn’t that old, it may be suitable for solar power. However, if you move forward with installation on a roof that needs to be repaired or replaced, you’ll have to shoulder the additional expense of removing and reinstalling the solar panels. As such, this next question is crucial.
Is Your Rooftop in Good Condition?
The total weight load for a residential solar power system – the solar panels, mounting racks and other rooftop components – is roughly 3 to 4 pounds per square foot. This may not sound like much, but a damaged roof might not be capable of supporting that much weight. Since the need for roofing repair isn’t always easy to spot, scheduling a roof inspection is a smart move. Or, homeowners can simply turn to Nationwide Solar, one of the few Oregon solar companies with a team of licensed roofing specialists.
Should you consider roof replacement? As long as your home rooftop has sufficient structural integrity and a long life expectancy, there may be no reason to plan on that before installing a solar power system.
However, some Oregon homeowners see the benefit of combining both into one project, particularly when one contractor provides both roofing and solar installation services. Rooftops and solar panels have similar lifespans, so this strategy can make sense in the long run. Regardless, no reputable professional will recommend this approach if it wouldn’t be financially advantageous for the homeowner.
Does Your Rooftop Get Enough Sun Exposure?
The quality and amount of sunlight a roof receives is a vital factor in determining its suitability for solar power. For homes in the northern hemisphere, rooftops that face south get the most sun, but east- and west-facing roofs can also produce plenty of power given the right PV system configuration.
Rooftop orientation isn’t all that matters – obstructions could prevent the sun’s rays from reaching the solar panels on the surface. Trees and neighboring homes could cast shade on the roof of your Oregon home, or you may have vents or chimneys that would be shade problems. Whatever the case, a rooftop that is largely obstructed doesn’t make solar installation impossible, but a roof-mounted solar power system may be more challenging (and, therefore, more costly) to plan.
What is the Slope of Your Rooftop?
Optimal energy output occurs when a rooftop solar power system faces true south at a tilt of 30 degrees. Obviously, not every home in Oregon has that configuration, but roofs with steeper slopes can also work for solar panels.
Photovoltaic experts say that a roof angle of up to 45 degrees can suffice for solar installation. With a greater tilt than that, working on the rooftop can be problematic – plus, extra equipment like scaffolding, harnesses and guardrails, may be required. Putting this in place takes more time, and due to the difficulty, the cost of installing a solar power system will likely be higher.
What about flat roofs? Photovoltaic contractors can use mounting racks designed to place the solar panels at the optimal angle – so if the roof of your home is flat, you may be better off than Oregon homeowners who have sloped rooftops.
Is Your Roof Ill-Suited for Solar Power?
Maybe your rooftop has extensive damage and needs repair, or perhaps it’s time for you to consider roof replacement. It could be that the surface doesn’t get enough sunlight to power your home. None of those are reasons to decide against solar installation or to put your project on the back burner.
The rooftop of your Oregon home isn’t the only place where you could have an array installed – solar panels could be mounted on the roof of a garage, carport, shed or other outbuilding on your property. Or, if you have an open sunny area in the yard, you could go with a ground-mounted solar power system. An experienced photovoltaic contractor can explain all of your options and help you figure out how to proceed.
Ready to learn more? The professional team at Nationwide Solar provides free, no-obligation site evaluations and estimates to homeowners in Oregon. If you want to know if your roof is ready for a solar power system, contact us and schedule a consultation today!