In short, yes you can install solar panels on a flat roof!
In California, nearly 6 million households have a solar system installed, covering 17% of the state’s intake of electricity. If you are a California resident, you have most likely seen several of these systems; on your neighbors home, local schools and markets. Having solar installed is one of the smartest decisions you can make for your home or business.
Many commercial buildings have a flat roof for its versatility, simplicity, and maintenance as they are easier to operate on during and after initial construction. In fact, you can see them on practically every commercial building and factory in the US! Flat roofs also provide the perfect platform for placing modules such as heating, air conditioning, air circulation units, and solar panels. You will need to consider a few things before going forward with solar to see what works best. The first is the fact that flat roofs are a very ideal location for panels. Solar on flat roofs is also the same price as solar on a sloped roof. Finally, solar on a flat roof can make optimizing your system for energy production considerably easier.
Installing a solar panel system on a flat roof takes a unique approach, the right tools, and installation experience. Most flat roofs are constructed with layers of asphalt, followed by waterproofing material, a layer of insulation and moisture control, decking or plywood, and lastly structural roof joists and ceiling. Solar installers have to take into account the roof orientation as well as the angle when designing their systems. Since the US is located in the Northern hemisphere of the globe, ideal panel placement is Southern facing. Flat roof structures require what is known as a raised mounting system for a solar installation. This structure – as its name suggests – raises the panels to an angle that offers better exposure to sunlight. They also utilize ballasts to sit and stay fastened on top of your roof without the need for penetrating any holes. Installing a system of this caliber involves particular mounting hardware that can accommodate the materials ladened within without causing damage during installation or later down the road. Having the flexibility to orient your system for optimum production can also make your system perform better through its lifetime.
Don’t feel discouraged when companies are turned off by the notion of you having a flat roof. Some just can’t or don’t have the experience or resources necessary to perform the task. Taking into account the differences in labor and materials between residential or commercial projects. Therefore it is best to consult with several solar installers who are capable.
So if you happen to be in the market for solar energy, or are just looking for more information on how solar can work for your home or place of business, try to get in touch with a solar installer/contractor that is experienced with installing solar on flat roofs.