How to Get Solar Power on Your Roof without Breaking the Bank
Posted September 05, 2018 07:04:49 When it comes to energy efficiency, rooftop solar panels have a long way to go to meet the same standards as their bigger cousins, which are now cheaper and more common.
But there are some things you can do to make the most of rooftop solar.
Here are eight tips to make your solar system look great, including how to align the panels to your roof and how to make sure the panels don’t block the sun’s rays.
Use the best material for your solar panel: When it first came out, rooftop panels were made from a mix of materials.
Some of these were recycled, like plastic, but other materials, like copper, tin, and iron, have a tendency to chip and tear.
You can avoid these problems by using materials that are easy to clean, absorb UV rays, and don’t crack, says Chris Wood, director of energy systems at The Greenhouse Institute.
If you’re building a new roof, Wood recommends using a panel made of copper or aluminum.
These materials are more durable and will last longer than cheaper copper panels.
Use a wide array of colors and textures: Colors can add a touch of sophistication to your solar panels, Wood says.
“I have a couple of customers that use this material to add some character to the panels and make them more appealing to their customers,” he says.
Use different panels for different climates: Some people like to use panels made of different materials for their roof, such as glass and aluminum.
But some of us want to use a material that reflects more sunlight, like aluminum.
“If you’re trying to achieve a more efficient system, you want to make it as reflective as possible,” Wood says, so it doesn’t chip or shatter.
“And if you’re in a cooler climate like in the south, you might want to stick with glass.”
Get a new panel for every project: The more panels you have, the less space you’ll have to install new panels on your roof.
So if you need a bigger solar array, “you might want two or three panels per roof,” Wood explains.
And if you can afford it, he suggests building a solar system in the home or apartment, and then replacing the panels after a few years.
Get an array for your home or business: There are different types of solar panels available to homeowners and businesses.
Wood recommends choosing the type that offers a higher efficiency than the average commercial system, such, for example, the “energy-efficient” or “solar-fiber” panels.
“The residential market has grown tremendously,” Wood tells Tech Insider.
“You can get them in a number of different configurations, but the ones that have the highest efficiency are generally the residential ones.”
Use your roof’s shading to make solar panels more efficient: Some homeowners are using their roof’s shaded area to reduce the amount of UV radiation entering the solar panels.
To do this, Wood suggests using different materials like glass and tin, which absorb more UV radiation.
For example, he recommends “glass-covered” panels for roofs in climates that have a high amount of sunlight.
And he recommends using materials such as aluminum and tin that absorb less UV light.
Choose a solar panel with a good thermal performance rating: Many homeowners install solar panels to use as heaters, so the amount that you heat up the panels depends on how warm or cold the weather is.
For this reason, “You need to be careful when selecting solar panels that will be rated for heat,” Wood warns.
“In cold climates, the best thing you can choose is one with a higher thermal capacity than a traditional solar panel.”
Get panels with a solar array’s most efficient characteristics: “The more efficient your system is, the more energy it uses, the longer it will last, and the more efficient it will be,” Wood recommends.
“So the more panels there are, the better it will perform, and that means the longer you can keep the system running.”