Can Solar Panels Be Installed on a Flat Roof?
Solar panels should be an option for everyone, regardless of the size and/or pitch of their roof. Many people with flat roofs decide against solar panels as they do not think they can be installed due to the lack of direct sunlight. However, they would be wrong to think that. It is actually perfectly possible to install solar panels on a flat roof, and this page takes you through how it can be done.
How do solar panel systems work on a flat roof?
Flat roof solar systems are most commonly found on commercial buildings, where the roof is typically made to be flat. However, it is definitely possible for them to be installed on domestic properties as well. The solar array that is installed uses the same type of solar panel as a traditional system, but certain considerations need to be made. The array needs to be able to self-clean during rainy weather and also avoid damage during strong winds. The installer should also take the pitch of the system into account, making sure that it captures as much energy from the sun as possible.
This is where thin film solar cells can come in really useful. They tend to be incredibly flexible, and can also be turned into automatic panels. These move with the sun as the day goes by, capturing as much sunlight as possible as it is always in direct light. While they are less efficient than crystalline-based solar panels, you will be able to generate more power throughout the day with an automatic system as opposed to a stationary one.
What are the benefits of flat roof solar systems?
While there are a number of specific considerations that you need to take into account when you install a solar array on a flat roof, it also comes with a large number of benefits that you should be taking into consideration:
- Flat roofs provide easy access and plenty of room for installation and maintenance
- This type of system is rarely visible from the street. So neighbours are less likely to complain about it being an eyesore.
- You can receive the government’s Feed-in Tariff if your system is installed by an MCS certified company.
- You can choose from a number of different types of solar panel.
- It provides you with a greener, more sustainable, form of energy.
Do you need planning permission for flat roof solar panels?
When it comes to getting planning permission for flat roof mounted systems, the process and terms are actually very similar to those for pitches roofs. Generally speaking, you don’t need to obtain planning permission, provided your installer follows a specific set of guidelines as laid out by your local council.
However, before you start any kind of work, it is strongly recommended that you first contact your area’s Local Planning Authority to make sure you are doing everything correctly. Check out the government website for more information on solar panel installation guidelines.
What angle do flat roof solar panels need to be?
Solar panels that have been mounted on flat roofs should usually be titled upwards to ensure that they capture as much sunlight as possible throughout the day. This also helps to keep each of the panels clean, as the rain will wash away dirt and debris from the surface – keeping efficiency levels on top.
For this self-cleaning to be possible, panels should be mounted at an angle of at least 10 degrees. Installers will commonly use a device, such as an A-frame, to mount panels at an angle that varies between 20 and 50 degrees. A qualified and professional installer will be able to determine the best pitch for installation on your roof.
What considerations need to be made for the wind with flat roof solar panels?
High winds can pose a potential risk to flat roof mounted solar systems. However, there are a number of options you can use to counter this. There are two methods that are most frequently used to protect a solar system. These are fixing panels to the structure or adding weight to them.
The latter involves fitting ballast frames and heavy slabs to the roof before attaching the solar panels to them. The former, fixing the panels to the structure, involves penetrating the actual roof and securing a support structure and brackets, which the solar panels are attached to. This is a more intrusive method, but some feel that it keeps the array more secure.
Can you also have flat roof mounted solar thermal systems?
Solar thermal systems can be attached in the same way as a PV system for a flat roof. They will also operate in the same way that any other traditional solar thermal system would, generating heated water for your home.
If you want to benefit from the Feed-in Tariff that the government has set up, then it is essential that you use an MCS accredited company. They will make sure that your system is fitted correctly, but they also have a lot of experience and expertise in the area.
Want to Know More?
Have you found yourself interested in solar panels? If you want to know more then make sure you head to our marketplace where you can find our full range of products, each with the relevant information. Or simply give us a ring using the number at the top of this page and have a chat.