What is the Best Type of Roof for Solar Panels?

types of roofing for solar panels

Solar panels are a great way of making our homes more eco-friendly and sustainable. They can generate clean energy to cut down on bills and reduce our overall carbon footprint, but do you need a particular type of roof to install solar panels?

In this article, we’re looking at what factors might make some roofs more suitable than others for effective solar panel installation.

Key factors

There are some notable key factors which will influence your suitability for solar panels. These include:

  • Ownership of the roof
  • The direction your roof faces
  • Age of the roof
  • Material of the roof
  • Roof size

More factors will likely come into play, but for the most part, these are the most decisive and easiest to consider. Let’s look at how these might affect your decision.


Ownership

ownership of roof for solar panels

If you’re in a rental property, you’ll need to obtain the owner’s permission before making significant structural changes — such as the addition of solar panels. If you’re the sole owner of the roof, then you’re okay to proceed.


Roof orientation

roof orientation for solar panels

In the UK, a south-facing roof is a prime candidate for solar panels, as it will maximise the amount of solar energy you can generate. If your roof is north facing, then solar panels won’t be worth installing — although ground-mounted options could provide an alternative.

If your roof is east or west facing, then you’ll still be able to benefit from the power of solar panels. In fact, east/west-facing solar panels provide a better distribution of energy overall. This is because, when most people install south-facing panels, demand peaks at around midday and the grid can find it difficult to cope. By opting for east/west-facing panels, you can still generate an impressive amount of energy while also reducing demand on the grid.


Age of the roof

age of the roof for solar panels

When planning your panel installation, you need to think about the age and lifespan of your roof. Ideally, you’ll want to install your panels on a roof that’s in good condition and has more than a couple of decades’ life left to give. It might be that you’ll need to make sweeping repairs or even a full replacement if you have an older, traditional roofing system — such as slate or asphalt.

If you have a metal roof, then you’re already in a strong position. With their long-lasting lifespan and durability, a metal roof will likely outlast your solar panels.

This is a key element to think about if you’re planning to build a new roof alongside your solar array; you’ll want to install a roofing system that will outlive your panels. Metal roofing is an ideal choice for this type of installation.


Size of the roof

size of roof for solar panels

The bigger your roof, the more panels you can install and the more energy you can produce. In domestic terms, the roof space of a small terraced house is definitely on the small side, and likely won’t be worth having panels installed. A three-bed semi-detached house, however, is a much healthier proposition.

When you think of size, you also need to factor in the ease of installation. Standing seam metal roofs offer a clean and easy installation surface for solar panels, without needing to drill any holes. This allows you to maximise space and create an unimpeded installation that draws as much energy as your roof size allows.

Finally, you’ll also need to take into account any obstacles on the roof — chimneys, vents etc. — as well as ensuring you have enough internal space for the string inverter.


Material of the roof

roof materials for solar panels

While solar panels can be installed on a range of roofing materials, an ideal choice would be a standing seam metal roof. As mentioned above, age and condition of the roof is important and this is intrinsically linked with the material. A metal roof is a sturdy and efficient platform for solar panels, and one that will last for many years to come without needing to be repaired or replaced.

Standing seam roofs also make it easy to install solar panels without any kind of restructuring or additional work, and some solar panel installers have dedicated metal roofing rails to accommodate simple installation on these kinds of roofs. If you have a metal roof — or are thinking of installing one — it’s the ideal companion for solar panels.