How to Mount Solar Panels on a Roof? [Solar Racking Guide]

August 10, 2023

Property owners often wonder how to mount solar panels on a roof. Installing solar means saving on your utility costs even if electricity prices go up over time! Solar is also a clean, green energy source that doesn’t create fumes or emissions.

How to mount solar panels on a roof:

  • Choose your racking system.
  • Install flashing and hardware.
  • Install the racking system.
  • Attach and wire the panels.
  • Connect the inverter.
  • Test the system.
  • Ensure it’s connected to your local utility company.

This is just a brief overview of how to mount solar panels on a roof. To find out more about this process, keep reading! Also, remember that being on a roof and working with wiring are both dangerous tasks. If they’re outside your area of expertise, call a solar installation contractor to install your panels instead!

how to mount solar panels on a roof

How to Mount Solar Panels on a Roof, Step by Step

Mounting solar panels on a roof involves several steps and is not always a DIY job. Also, regulations and building codes vary based on location. In turn, it's best that you check with our local utility company or permitting office before undertaking this project! Otherwise, note how to mount solar panels on a roof, step by step:

Assess Your Roof

First, you need to determine if your roof is suitable for solar panel installation. Check its orientation, shading from nearby structures or trees, and its structural integrity. Also, remember that a roof repair contractor might need to remove solar panels to perform needed fixes. In turn, it’s good to address those repairs before you mount solar panels.

Choose the Mounting System

There are a few common types of solar panel mounting systems from which to choose, including:

  • Railed systems attach aluminum rails onto the roof and solar panels to the rails. They allow for easy panel adjustment and maintenance.
  • Rail-less systems use direct mounting hardware to attach the panels to the roof. This reduces the number of components required.
  • Ballast systems are used on flat roofs and rely on the weight of the panels and ballast blocks to keep them in place.

Install Flashing and Waterproofing

Flashing is cut metal installed to seal gaps in a roof, creating a trench for water to run over. Before you install a solar racking system, it’s vital to put down flashing where needed! Also, properly seal and waterproof the roof penetrations where the mounting hardware will be attached. This helps prevent leaks and ensures the roof's integrity.

Install Mounting Hardware

Follow the manufacturer's instructions and install the mounting hardware. This hardware might include rails, brackets, or other components. Ensure that the mounting points are securely fastened to the roof.

Remember, this mounting is what keeps the racking system and panels secure even in high winds! Consequently, you’ll want to ensure it’s securely attached before moving on to the next step.

Attach the Solar Panels

Once the racking system is in place, install the solar panels onto the mounting hardware. Secure them according to the manufacturer's guidelines. Typically, this involves attaching the panels to the rails or mounting brackets using clamps. Again, ensure they’re securely in place before moving on to the next step.

Wire the Solar Panels

Once secured to the racking system, connect the solar panels with the right wiring and connectors. This might involve routing the wires along the roof, through conduit if necessary, and down to the inverter location.

Wiring the panels is a crucial step to ensuring they work effectively and provide adequate power. If you’re not sure how to wire panels to the inverter, call a professional. They can ensure the wires connect properly and are protected against weather conditions and other hazards.

a contractor wiring solar panels

Connect to the Inverter

Solar panels create direct current or DC power. However, household electronics use alternating current or AC power. In turn, your solar panel system needs an inverter. This device converts solar electricity from DC to AC power. After wiring your panels, connect it to the inverter according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Secure Wiring and Perform Checks

After you’ve installed the panels and connected them to the inverter, ensure everything is secured and protected against damage. Double-check the connections and consult an electrician if needed. Also, test the system to ensure it's generating electricity as expected. Monitor the performance and troubleshoot any issues that arise.

Lastly, remember to check with your local utility company about any needed checks and inspections. In many cases, local power companies require an inspection before you connect to the grid. Their inspection also ensures your system is working as expected!

Is It Better to Mount Solar Panels on the Roof or Ground?

The decision to mount solar panels on a roof or on the ground depends on several factors. These include your property’s design, your preferences, and solar installation goals. Here are some considerations to help you decide which option might be better:

  • Roof-mounted solar panels make efficient use of space. If your property has limited available land, installing panels on the roof can mean solar energy without taking up valuable ground space.
  • Roof-mounted panels are often less visible to neighbors and passersby, maintaining the visual appearance of your property. This can be important if maintaining a certain aesthetic is a priority for you.
  • Roofs often provide excellent sun exposure, especially if they face the right direction (typically south in the Northern Hemisphere). Also, note if your property’s roof is free from shading obstacles like trees or buildings.
  • Additionally, roofs provide protection from strong winds that might affect ground-mounted systems. Roof-mounted systems are also generally less prone to vandalism and damage compared to ground-mounted systems.
  • Ground-mounted panels can be adjusted or placed on tracking systems to follow the sun's path throughout the day. This maximizes solar energy production but isn't feasible with most roof-mounted systems.
  • Ground-mounted systems can be more flexible in terms of sizing and orientation, as they are not constrained by the shape or angle of the roof.
  • Ground-mounted panels tend to have better airflow around them, which can help keep them cooler during operation, potentially leading to slightly higher efficiency.

Go Solar Rhode Island is happy to explain how to mount solar panels on a roof. However, we still advise homeowners to contact our Rhode Island solar installation contractors. Solar installation is not typically a DIY job and can risk injury. To find out more, call our crew today.


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