Solar Panel for Flat Roof: Can Panels Be Installed?

December 8, 2022

Are you curious about flat roof solar panel installation for your business? Unfortunately, some business owners mistakenly assume contractors cannot install solar panels on flat roofs. In turn, they might miss out on solar installation benefits for their property.

On the other hand, not all roofs are ideal for solar panels. These panels absorb sunlight, so the more sun exposure on those panels, the more power they produce. Also, roofs must be strong enough to support those panels. So that you make the best decision about solar for your property, check out this information in more detail.


installing solar panels on flat roof

Can solar panels be put on flat roofs?

The short answer is yes; a contractor can install solar panels on a flat roof. Solar panel systems need sun exposure to function effectively, as said. In turn, the roof’s exposure to sunlight is a concern, not its slope!

Sometimes, a flat roof offers more sun exposure for solar panels. Note that panels on a sloped roof might get less exposure as the sun moves across the sky. Conversely, some flat roofs enjoy sun exposure almost constantly from sunrise to sunset!

However, this doesn’t mean that all flat roofs are good candidates for installing solar panels. For instance, some commercial roofs hold large AC compressors or vents. Consequently, these can block sunlight from reaching solar panels. That roof might not be the best place for a solar panel system in those cases.

Also, any roof obstructed by tree branches, nearby signage, more significant buildings next door, and the like isn’t always a good candidate for solar installation. A solar installer might suggest trimming back tree branches before installing your array. Additionally, some installers might suggest placing panels on the ground or elsewhere for added sun exposure.

Does a flat roof need planning permission for solar panels?

Local cities or counties dictate needed permits for any property improvement, including solar installation. Those municipalities decide if certain roofs, like flat roofs, or properties need special permitting before solar installation.

Also, local governments decide if you can disconnect a property from a utility provider after solar installation. In some cases, they might require that you stay connected to your local electric company, even with solar panels on your roof!

Whatever the case, an experienced solar panel installer should know all requirements for a project. Additionally, they should pull needed permits and work with area utility companies as required. Property owners shouldn’t need to find out about permitting before calling a solar installation company.


solar panel for flat roof

How effective are flat-roof solar systems?

Solar panel effectiveness typically relies on panel construction and overall sun exposure.

Panel construction and their effectiveness

When purchasing solar panels, you might note their efficiency rating, typically measured in percentages. These percentages reflect how much sunlight the panel converts into usable energy. In turn, a meeting with a 20% rating produces more power than a 15% rating. Investing in higher-quality panels typically means more solar energy, no matter the roof design.

Also, note that solar panel manufacturers are constantly working to improve panel design. Consequently, today’s panels are more effective than ever at collecting solar energy.

Panels need overall sun exposure!

Since solar panels absorb sunlight, overall sun exposure affects how well they function. Contractors installing panels keep this in mind when designing an array. First, they note the roof’s design and where it gets the most exposure. Second, they also note any nearby obstructions that might affect the sun hitting those panels.

Then, installers place panels where they’ll get maximum sun exposure. On flat roofs, this might be in an area with fewer shadows and obstructions. Additionally, they might recommend a property owner trim back tree branches where possible.

Also, solar panel owners should endeavor to keep them clean and evident throughout the year. This might include a quick brushing, especially after a storm. Clear snow and ice also possess them to work effectively during winter.

Are solar panels on a flat roof worth it?

Most solar panel owners would say their investment was well worth the cost! As long as solar panels absorb enough sunlight to work effectively, they’re an excellent choice for any property. In addition, solar panels help lower your electric bills year-round. As a result, you can upgrade electric equipment on a commercial property with less worry about increased energy costs.

Additionally, businesses are often more worried now than ever about pollutants resulting from their production processes. Switching to solar means reducing the contaminants you’re responsible for without making any other changes to your business. Solar panel installation is also very labor intensive. Consequently, investing in solar means creating jobs for your local area!

flat roof solar

Challenges of installing solar panels on a flat roof

While a contractor can effectively install solar panels on a flat roof, this process isn’t without challenges! First, they need to avoid leakage and water damage. Second, flat roof installation can mean more dust and dirt buildup.

Note the first issue, leakage, and water damage. If a contractor places the panels flat on a roof, this risks water pooling around or under them after every rainfall. This risks damage to panel wiring and other parts.

Next, dirt and dust buildup block sunlight from reaching panel wiring and cells that capture that light. Again, this issue affects their overall effectiveness.

To address both issues, a contractor typically installs a raised racking system, lifting the roof panels slightly. Also, they will often tilt the panels at a slight angle. This tilt allows dirt and dust to slide off the panels more readily, keeping them clean and clear!

Contact Our Team to Install Solar Panels

Go Solar Rhode Island is happy to provide information about flat roof solar panel installation. Hopefully, you found it helpful! Call our Rhode Island solar contractors if you’re in the state and ready for clean, green solar. We’ll set up a FREE price quote and installation consultation at your earliest convenience. Contact us today for more information about solar power or your no-cost, no-obligation consultation.


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