If you’re considering going solar, there are a few key criteria that your home or building should meet.
If it doesn’t sound like your building will qualify, Community Solar is a great alternative!
- Face due south, to maximize the amount of sunlight the panels collect.
- If your roof is flat then you are all set! The panels can be installed to face due south no matter how your roof is oriented.
- If your roof is pitched, you need to have a section that faces south in order to maximize the amount of solar energy collected by the panels. If your roof faces due east or west, it is still possible to go solar, but the panels will produce less energy (about 75% of what a south-facing roof would produce).
- Remain unshaded between 9am and 3pm.
- The portions of the roof where solar will be installed should be free of shade for most of the day, as shade can significantly reduce electricity production. If you’re not sure if your roof is shaded, an installer can use a tool called a solar pathfinder to figure out if trees or other objects will cast shade during the day.
- Have a smooth/uninterrupted surface
- If your roof has peaks/valleys, dormer windows, chimneys, vents, skylights, air conditioning units, etc it will be difficult to install solar. A large, uninterrupted roof space will provide the best spot for solar.
- Have a roof that is in good repair and less than 15 years old.
- If your roof is more than 15 years old or you plan on replacing the roof, you may want to consider replacing it when you purchase the system. Most solar vendors recommend using roofing material that will last as long as the system, which is about 25 to 30 years.
Many people are concerned about the additional weight of solar panels on their roof. Solar panels are not particularly heavy. Their weight is spread out across the entire length of the roof (as opposed to an air conditioning unit, for example, which has all its weight concentrated in a single spot).
Before installing a solar system, all DC installers have to submit engineering specifications to the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). A permitting official for DCRA reviews the plans and ensures that the proposed system meets engineering requirements and can be supported by your roof. This is a rigorous process. You can feel confident that your solar system will only be approved if your roof is structurally sound. If your roof is not a good fit for a system, it may be possible to install panels on your garage or carport, depending on their location.