Your roof has the potential to become a major generator of solar energy. The benefits of installing your own system are plentiful, but it’s not for everyone.
Building owners who want to invest in roofing photovoltaic systems should consider several factors before installing solar panels on their roofs.
This blog post will help you understand how to prepare your rooftop before going through the installation of a photovoltaic system.
Since solar power is one of the fastest-growing energy sources in the world, more and more people are looking into investing in them as well as getting their homes or buildings outfitted with them. Installing a photovoltaic system on your rooftop can be an expensive endeavor, so make sure that you do your research first!
How Photovoltaic System Works
Although there are many different ways that solar panels can be installed, they all have one thing in common:
They produce electricity from the sunlight.
A photovoltaic cell is a powerful way to harness the sun’s energy and convert it into direct current electricity. DC power can be used for powering equipment or stored in batteries. The direct current (DC) power can be turned into Alternating Current (AC) by using inverters.
This allows the building owner to generate and use solar power during daylight hours, when they are most efficient.
By adding batteries to the photovoltaic system you could store excess electricity for use at night or on cloudy days.
The solar plant may be connected to the power grid and produce energy that could be sold and used by utilities who may not have enough renewable generation capacity themselves – helping both parties achieve their energy goals while generating revenue from a clean source!
Installing roof photovoltaic systems has become more popular as building owners consider it a less expensive and environmentally friendly way to generate energy. Solar panels can also reduce your utility bills, which is great if you’re spending too much money on electricity from the power company!
Mounting systems for flat roofs
One of the most important aspects when installing a solar system is ensuring that your mounting systems and components are installed correctly.
Leaks and damages of the roofing system can be costly to fix, while insecurely mounted modules will create unnecessary costs for you down the road.
Pay attention during the design and installation process so it doesn’t end up costing more than what was originally budgeted!
There are three basic ways to secure solar panels on the roof.
Connecting to structural framing through roof penetrations
The first relies on penetrations and connections to structural framing. This method allows to reduce dead loads when designing it, it provides more options with tilt of array resulting in higher energy yield than other methods. One of the big advantages of this system is also it assures a stable platform for installing solar panels.
However since this technique requires penetrations into your roofing system it can sometimes create more problems than solutions if not done properly. When using connected to structure mounting systems make sure every detail is completed and watertight.
This second method of mounting rooftop solar panels relies on ballasting to secure them from wind uplift and shifting. The weights, combined with a racking system’s additional mass provide enough stability for the array.
Ballasted mounting systems reduce the risks of water infiltration because less roof penetrations have been made, while preventing any damage that may be caused on insulation or assets inside the building.
Another benefit is it leads to increased durability and lower maintenance costs.
However this can create its own set backs such as increased dead loads.
Another disadvantage is the tilt of arrays may be limited depending on wind uplift loads which could lead into reduced power production efficiency.
It can sometimes be difficult to obtain a flat surface for installing the mounting system. In addition it can create barriers on drainage patterns which could also cause problems with water running off.
A hybrid option consists of a limited number of connections through the roof to structural framing combined with ballast. Where this method is used, it’s generally recommended that you use less penetrations and more weight for each connection point in order maintain stability while also providing protection from wear or damage during inclement weather events such as storms or high winds.
Risk Factors of Rooftop Solar Installations
As a building owner, you are in the process of evaluating whether or not installing solar panels on your roof is worth it. You need to know all the risks and hazards involved before making this important decision. Here are just a few things that should be considered:
- wind uplift and securement,
- roof loading,
- natural hazards resistance.
Risk 1: Combustibility
Installing solar panels requires a significant amount of wiring and conduit throughout the building. There needs to be enough space for all equipment, racks, inverters, combiners, breakers and disconnects that will be used in order to install the system. If done incorrectly or if future plans change and more equipment is required there may not be enough room in your roof and you could end up with an electrical fire hazard!
You also need to make sure that there is no combustible material within 25 feet of this wiring. The rooftop should be free from any flammable materials such as wood decking or shingles so that during installation or removal these are not ignited. Although photovoltaic installations can generate significant heat this would not typically cause ignition hazards unless there was an existing fire in close proximity of highly flammable roofing materials.
Risk 2: Wind Uplift and Securement
Uplift is the term for how much a surface lifts under wind pressure. There are two types of uplift forces that are important to consider when installing solar panels, static and dynamic uplift.
Static uplift is the force generated by the wind pushing on an object which in this case would be your solar panel system. It will cause objects to rise vertically so you need to anchor them down to prevent them from flying off your roof!
Dynamic uplift is where there aren’t any strong winds but there is still enough air movement to move objects around; it can even lift light objects right off the ground! Solar panels systems should always be tied into the structure of your building with heavy duty security ties.
You usually need a ballasted racking system for your solar panels to stay put during high winds. And if you’re using a roof top installation without ballast, make sure you have a safety cut off switch installed in case the panels suddenly lift up and break!
Risk 3: Roof Loading
Installing solar panels creates a significant amount of weight and loading on your roofs. The weight is typically not evenly distributed across the roof and becomes much heavier in areas where racks, mounts and supports are installed. The added weight could damage your rooftop or cause issues with wind uplift.
First, determine how much additional load will be placed on the roof from the solar array size you choose to install. Next, determine if this new weight is too large for your building’s structural capacity – which you can do by consulting an engineer or architect.
Risk 4: Drainage
This goes hand in hand with the last point. You need to make sure your roof can drain properly, otherwise you run the risk of serious damage during heavy rainfall or high wind events! If you have an aging roof that hasn’t been well cared for then it may be worth it to spend some money on a new roof before installing solar panels just to avoid issues later on.
Your rooftop solar system will create barriers for water which means it might start pooling on your roofing surface.
It is important that roof outlets are clean and free to drain properly so that any excess water can flow away from your building!
Make sure they are clear of debris or vegetation that could otherwise impede the flow of rainwater.
Rainwater can accumulate around your rooftop equipment during precipitation events and potentially cause damage. Keeping your roof in proper working order will help you avoid costly repairs.
Along with gutters, check any other area where water may be accumulating such as around pipes and air vents or any place that has the potential to hold water.
Risk 5: Natural Hazards Resistance
In coastal areas, salt water can end up corroding and eroding your roof. This will not only interfere with the structural integrity of your rooftop but also contaminate the solar panels and other equipment.
Many photovoltaic installers would recommend roof coatings to protect against corrosion and algae growth if you live in an area where saltwater is a problem. But just remember that any damage caused by corrosion or algae won’t be covered under warranty!
The installer should ensure that your rooftop is adequately prepared to support all panel weights, equipment loads and other mechanical forces associated with the load of the photovoltaic system being installed.
You’ll want to make sure there are no small trees or branches obstructing panels so they can operate at maximum output.
Overall, these risks and hazards should be evaluated before making the big decision to install solar panels on your roof!
You should always consult with a professional installer that is familiar with all the code requirements for your state and region. They will ensure that everything is up to code before you sign off on the project.
The last thing you want is for someone to come back later saying something needs to be fixed or taken down and causing unnecessary stress and spending! Now go make an educated decision about installing solar panels and if it’s worth it for your home – we think it is.
Solar power is becoming increasingly popular, and it’s not hard to see why. It has the potential to save you money on your electric bill while also providing an opportunity to sell the produced energy to utility service providers.
If you are considering installing rooftop solar panels on your building, make sure that you take into account any risk factors before making an informed decision. Our team at Isomatech can help with all of these considerations so that your installation goes smoothly and without unfortunate surprises! What will be the next step?