After qualifying for good sun exposure, the bottom line for a solar project is what condition your roof is in. The quality of attachment work and attachment components that are used on your roof can also make a big difference. Most of us don’t think about our roof until a leak occurs, but like a foundation is to a building, your roof is the foundation to a successful solar project. To determine this, I recommend you follow these four guidelines below.
1. Know what condition your roof covering is in. Since your project’s lifespan is 20 to 25 years, the roof needs to have the same or longer lifespan. This is your starting point to determine if your roof covering is ready for solar. Composite asphalt shingles range from 20 - 40 year lifespans. Concrete and clay tiles last much longer BUT the condition of the underlayment is critical to get examined. Whether you have your solar vendor or a professional roofer evaluate your roof is up to you, but do make sure that it’s done early on. Any expense needed to do so, well outweighs avoiding the troubles and expenses of leaky roof damages.
2. Know your roof support design. A solar project generally adds 3 pounds per square foot of weight to your roof. The permit process requires that your roof support structure can accommodate that. Older homes may need some rafters added to meet that requirement. Most new homes (less than 20 years old) in California do comply. All new construction in California is required to build solar ready roof support. Your solar vendor should inform you if any support work is needed. At this point you’ll either feel confident to move forward, or you will be examining cost/benefit numbers to see if it makes sense to do any needed roof work.
3. Know your vendor’s roofing experience. If your roof and budget are now good to go, the next item is arguably the most important. If you have a sloped roof, there must be holes drilled through it to attach your solar project to your roof’s support system. For roofs with an interior that is a finished cathedral ceiling, the attachments may be secured to your roof planking. In either case there are holes that must be waterproofed for the life of the system. No new technology required here, but this heavily relies on experience and the right skills. This is an important question for your vendor regarding their staffing.
4. Know your vendor’s attachment component choice. The final step is what component manufacturer your vendor will use for attaching your solar panels to the roof (with or without rails). There are many choices for vendors and different skills needed depending on the roof covering. Asphalt roofs are the easiest to install on. Tile roofs require more skill and time. This component is the place you need the best component choice available. I believe, especially for tile roofs, that the manufacturer, Quick Mount PV, delivers quality as well as a 20-year warranty. They are California based and offer extensive training for vendors.
Knowing the answers to these questions puts you in the position to partner with the best vendor for your solar project. Soladvisor is ready to help and assist you in getting there.