If there’s space and sunshine on your roof, you’ll be able to get solar power. But certain types of roofs make it a little more difficult to install panels, which might make the cost of installation slightly higher.
When an installer has to go out on tile or shake roofs, it’s hard to avoid occasionally breaking tiles that will then have to be replaced. If your roof happens to be much steeper than usual, it might add time to the installation, or require special equipment. Alternatively, flat roofs might require more racks to install your solar panels at the right angle.
Before you install solar panels, you’ll want to consider how long your current roof is expected to last. If your warranty is almost up, or your roof is starting to show signs of serious wear and tear, it will make the most sense to get a new roof before putting solar panels in. A good rule of thumb is that if you have at least five years of good use left in your roof, you can go ahead and install panels rather than replacing your roof first. The panels will help protect your roof from some of the effects of weather, so it may last a little longer than it would have otherwise.
Installation methods depend on your roof type. Flat roofs usually use racks attached to ballasts to hold panels. Shingle roofs usually use mounts that are bolted into rafters, and the solar panels are attached to rails on the mounts. Any gaps around mounts are sealed and weatherproofed.
If your roof isn’t well-suited for solar power– maybe there’s too much shade, or your roof isn’t facing the right way– another option is to mount solar panels on the ground. Pole mounts will require a little space in your yard, and installers will need to dig a trench so that electric wires can run from the mounts to your home’s electric panel.
Solar panel theft is very, very rare. If you’re concerned about protecting your panels, you can buy a locking system for them, and your installers can seal them in with cements that are very difficult to remove. You should also be able to cover your solar panels through your home insurance, and the extra coverage shouldn’t cost much (it may even be free, depending on your location). Ask your insurance agent for details.
Related: Solar Shingles