Is My Roof Suitable for Solar Panels?
When it comes to considering powering your home with solar energy, it’s likely that you’ll question whether your roof is suitable for solar panels.
Fortunately, the majority of UK homes have a suitable roof for solar panel installation – great news for anyone looking to generate their own electricity, lower their energy bills and reduce their home’s impact on the environment.
To help you make the right choice when having solar panels installed, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions on roof requirements.
If you’d like to speak to an MCS certified (or equivalent) solar installer for advice – you can get free no-obligation quotes from up to 3 solar installers in your area using Solar Guide.
Which direction should my roof face for solar panels?
The best type of roof for solar panels is a south facing roof as they tend to generate the most electricity from solar panels. South facing roof panels see the sun when it is at its most intense for the longest period of time, which is why they generate the most energy.
However, this doesn’t mean that east or west facing roofs can’t also be suitable for solar panels. If your roof faces another direction as you can likely still see plenty of benefit from installing a solar array. East and west facing roofs are also suitable for solar panels and will still see a good deal of energy generation throughout the course of the day. For example, an east facing roof will be exposed to sunlight in the morning whereas a west facing roof will take in more sunlight in the afternoon and evenings.
Using our Solar Calculator we’ve compared the potential savings a solar PV system could give you in their first year depending on which direction they’re facing.
As you can see, a south facing roof gives the optimal direction for solar panels, delivering a potential saving of £194.41 in the first year. Meanwhile a north facing roof would still save you money on your energy bills but not as much (£92.35).
Does your home have a south facing roof? Get free quotes from solar panel installers today.
Do solar panels have to face south?
While it isn’t recommended to have solar panels installed on a north facing roof in the UK, you can still have them installed if you wish but they won’t perform as well – as we saw from the table above. So if you don’t have a south facing roof, don’t let that put you off the idea of renewable solar energy as it is still very much a possibility.
What’s the best roof pitch for solar panels?
The best roof pitch for solar panels is between 30-40°, but the angle of the roof can fall outside of this range and generate electricity effectively.
Solar panels can still absorb sunlight even when horizontal. However, solar panels which are more below 12º from horizontal won’t be able to self-clean and may become less effective as dirt builds up on them.
Is my roof big enough for solar panels?
Whether you roof is big enough for solar panels depends on the size of the array you want installed.
For a standard 4kW size system you would need around 28 square meters of clean roof space. You should bear in mind any areas of your roof that may cause obstructions or interrupt the layout of your solar panels. This includes things like skylights, turrets or roof vents. Whilst installers can generally work around these obstacles, it could have an impact on the installation cost.
Shaded areas also need to be factored in here, which leads us to the next question…
My roof is shaded, will solar panels still work?
Shade can really diminish the amount of power that solar PV panels can generate and even damage them! If your roof has a lot of shadows cast upon it for long time periods you may want to look at other solar options (for example ground mounted).
Installers will be able to assess your situation, potentially perform a shading analysis and offer advice on the best way to proceed. You can learn more about choosing the best installer in our handy guide.
What material should my roof be made from?
The material your roof is made from may impact the cost of installing an array, however a solar PV system can generally be installed on most roof types. One of the most important factors you will need to consider is how strong your roof is. Installers should carry out a structural report to assess this and likely recommend strengthening if your roof requires it. You can read more about this in our guide to questions you should ask your solar installer.
Asphalt, or composite roofing, is arguably the most suitable for a solar panel installation. It’s a durable and highly-reliable material that has grown in popularity across the UK.
A metal standing seam roof is another great contender for best roof material for solar panels as they can be fitted with ease – potentially saving you money on the installation.
A tar roof tends to be flat and while it’s possible for flat solar panels to generate electricity for your property, your installer might recommend a bracket to tilt them at a more optimal angle of 30-40 degrees. The same can be said for a gravel roof which are also normally flat.
Wood is the best material to sit below a solar panel installation – largely due to fire safety concerns – but that doesn’t mean you have to rule having a solar PV system installed.
It’s not essential for solar panels to be installed onto a roof, there are now options to have a solar system on the ground and new innovation solar tracking technology from Heliomotion even moves to follow the sun during the day to increase generation.
Will I need planning permission to have solar panels installed?
Generally homeowners don’t need planning permission to have solar panels installed. However, if you live in a conservation area or if your house is listed you may need planning permission in some cases.
Consider flexible solar panels
Solar technology is constantly evolving and has become more accessible to owners of homes with unconventional or lightweight roofing thanks to flexible solar panels.
Flexible solar panels are thinner and lighter than conventional solar panels to make the installation easier and more flexible. On top of being flexible, these panels aren’t affected by shading or high temperatures to the same extent as conventional solar panels.
Is your roof suitable for solar panels?
Even a roof that doesn’t fit the ideal requirements can still be suitable for solar panels. All you will find is that solar installers will advise slightly differently about the best way to maximise energy generation, and can recommend additional technologies you can use to boost your supply.
If in doubt, find a few solar companies to carry out a survey on your roof and give you projections for how much electricity you’ll be able to generate in an average year. You can then work out how long the ongoing electricity savings will take to pay you back on your investment.
Finding a solar installer
To take the hassle out of finding solar installers in your area, we’ve made the process simpler than ever. To get free quotes from up to 3 installers based near you simply take a few moments to complete our online form.
Once finished, you’ll be matched with MCS certified (or equivalent) solar installers and each will be in touch to provide their free no-obligation quote. Comparing multiple quotes with give you the best chance of finding the most competitive price and saving money on the installation.