Solar FAQ: Can You Put Solar Panels On A Flat Roof?

For solar panels to get maximum exposure to the sun and therefore produce as much power as possible, they need to be correctly positioned. You hear a lot about solar panel orientation and much of this talks about the tilt of the panels.

So, if your property has a flat roof, you may be concerned that this won’t be compatible with solar panel installation.

But there’s good news. Keep reading to find out more.

Can Solar Panels Be Installed On A Flat Roof?

It is perfectly possible to install solar panels on a flat roof. This is often something you see in a commercial situation but many domestic properties also have flat roofs. There’s no reason you cannot harness the natural energy of the sun and make your property more sustainable.

However, laying solar panels completely flat may result in them not performing as well due to decreased exposure to the sun. But all is not lost, installers are skilled at fitting a frame system which will raise your panels and give them the tilt they need for maximum efficiency and performance.

What’s The Best Angle For Solar Panels?

It’s commonly accepted that the best angle for solar panels is anywhere between 30 and 45 degrees.

But if your panels cannot be installed within these confines, that isn’t to say that they won’t work.

There are ways to get around the problem such as the frames I mentioned in the previous section and even solar panels that are placed completely flat will still produce power; just less of it.

What’s The Best Direction For Roofs With Solar Panels?

It doesn’t matter whether you are installing solar panels on a flat or pitched roof, it’s always important to think about which direction your solar panels are going to face. Now, on a flat roof, the sun will hit the top of the roof throughout the day but in most cases, the panels are installed on a frame so we have to think about which direction this frame will cause your panels to face.

South-facing roofs get the most exposure to direct sunlight throughout the day so most experts will advise fitting solar panels to the south-facing roof.

However, if your property doesn’t have a south-facing roof or this part of the roof is not suitable for solar panel installation, using an east or west-facing roof will work well.

That said, it is important to keep in mind that east and west-facing roofs don’t get quite as much direct sunlight so panels tend to be between 10 and 20 percent less efficient.

It is not usually recommended to place solar panels on a north facing roof owing to the significant lack of direct sunlight. While it is possible where no other solution is available, your panels may perform up to 40 percent less compared to those that are south facing.

Do You Need Planning Permission For Solar Panels On A Flat Roof?

In most cases, solar panels on any kind of roof come under permitted development. In a nutshell, this means that you won’t need to obtain planning permission.

That said, it is always a good idea to check before going ahead with your installation. The last thing you want is to discover that you did need planning permission and the installation has to be removed.

However, this typically only applies to properties in an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty or other conservation or heritage site or if you live in a listed building.

Things To Consider When Installing Solar Panels On A Flat Roof

Having solar panels installed is one of the most eco-friendly decisions you can make for your property. With that said, when installing the panels on a flat roof, there are a few additional things that you need to consider.

For starters, as I have already discussed, you’ll need to have the panels mounted on an angled frame in order to make the most of their potential. While this isn’t mandatory, it will certainly increase the amount of power the panels generate and will allow you to create the most sustainable property possible.

In addition to this, it’s worth considering that there may be obstructions on a flat root that your installer needs to work around. This might include things like curbs, vents, fans and drains, for example. However, if you’re working with a good installer, they will have the correct experience to handle this.

I would also recommend thinking about solar panel maintenance when installing on a flat roof. Angled solar panels tend to allow rainwater to flow off with ease, taking with it any dirt or debris.

While angled panels do still need to be cleaned at least once every six months, those that are laid completely flat are more likely to gather dirt quickly. This means that you’ll need to clean them more frequently.

Cleaning solar panels is very easy but you have to be sure that you have the time to dedicate to this maintenance. If not, you’ll find that your solar panels become less efficient as they gather dirt, dust and debris.

Finally, consider that flat roofs are more likely to suffer from pooling water, especially after heavy rain. This in itself can pose a problem with leaks and that risk increases where holes have been drilled into the roof to secure the solar panels and their mounts.

However, there are ways to address this problem such as using weights to keep the panels in place which eliminates the need for any drilling.

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