Solar energy is clearly the future of energy independence for both our country and our country’s companies. But are solar panels right for your roof? Perhaps the better question to ask is, is your roof right for solar panels?
Location, Location, Location
Your building’s location is important.
Points to consider:
- Does the property receive steady sunlight?
- Are there any buildings, foliage, or other objects blocking the sun?
- It’s important to note that during winter sunlight in the northern hemisphere hits the earth in a direction less perpendicular to the surface of the earth than in summer, so the shadows are much longer.
You can improve your return on investment with solar panels by enlisting a solar energy designer to optimize energy output based on your available roof space, building location, and roof height.
Your Roof is a Foundation
When contemplating solar arrays, think of your roof as the solar panels’ foundation.
Questions to consider:
- Can the roof support the weight of a solar array?
- If your commercial roof has a single-ply membrane, is it at least 60 mils thick? The solar array will cause an increase in foot traffic during installation and with ongoing maintenance.
- Is your roof 10 years old or older? Solar panels generally last around 20 years; avoid the dilemma of replacing your commercial roof long before the end of the solar panels’ lifespan.
Involve a structural engineer to determine if your roof is structurally sound enough for solar panels. You also should have a roof evaluation performed by a commercial roofer before solar array installation.
As you, your solar designer, engineer, and roofing contractor get closer to an installation date, the nitty-gritty of the process becomes more important.
- How is the solar array being installed and secured to the roof? Two options are vertical posts or ballasted solar racks.
- Does your roof already have a cover board? A cover board (a thin material between insulation and membrane layers) is recommended for any roof where a solar array will be installed because of the additional equipment and foot traffic that is part and parcel of installation and maintenance of the solar panel equipment.
Time may have to be built into any installation schedule to allow your commercial roofer to remove an existing roof membrane, add the cover board, and replace a TPO, PVC, or other single-ply membrane.
You can find answers to all your concerns about solar panels for your property’s commercial roof by enrolling in a Roof Asset Management Program. Your roofer can ensure that the lifespan of your roof properly aligns with the lifespan of your solar panel array. For accurate, helpful answers, contact us below!