Solar panels are a great option for homeowners who are looking to save money on energy costs and generate cheap, green energy to use in the home. They are typically installed on top of your existing roof tiles, though solar tiles and slates are also available – designed to replace your roof tiles with eco-friendly alternatives. If you are thinking about having solar panels fitted, it’s important to hire a roofing expert (many solar panels are mounted on the ground, so installation is not automatically carried out by a roofer) to ensure that no roof damage is caused. Here’s everything you need to know about fitting solar panels.
What’s so great about solar panels?
Solar panels (and solar tiles) are designed to capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity that can be used for heating, lighting and to run household appliances. Your energy bills will decrease, and you will receive payment for the electricity you generate under the government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme – enabling you to sell surplus energy back to the grid. According to the Energy Saving Trust, solar panels are perfect for reducing your carbon footprint, with a typical home saving a tonne and a half of carbon dioxide a year.
Protecting your roof when fitting solar panels
The first rule of solar installations is that you should never fit a panel to a roof that is in bad condition. This is why an expert roofer is required – to ensure there are no leaks, cracks or weak spots in the roofing structure, and to make sure these are fixed before the solar panel is fitted. The age of your roof should also be considered if retrofitting: solar panels can generate energy for 20 years, and the roof may need to be updated with new materials to match that lifespan. This is why solar panels are often a popular option for new builds.
A roofing expert can also prevent the drainage issues that can occur with hastily installed solar panels. Your roof is designed to filter rainwater away from the property, but the racks and wires used in solar installations can (if not fitted properly) inhibit water flow and cause blockages, leaks or pooling. The same goes for changes in temperature and strong winds: a professional roofer will only install racks with the appropriate rate of thermal expansion, and ensure the ballast mounting system is fully secured and will not move in high winds.
Keeping your solar panels up and running
Like all roofing systems, solar panels need a bit of maintenance to keep them in optimal condition. This is simply a case of checking for cracks, blockages and debris, etc. (all of which can be done by a roofer) and getting any issues rectified as soon as possible. Other than that, your solar panels should operate efficiently with minimal input from you.