How Are Solar Panels Attached to Roof

Anthony Joseph Lalonde

Last updated on August 23rd, 2022 at 09:27 am

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    Ever wondered how are solar panels attached to roof? Solar panel installation is a tough job. They have to be lifted onto the roof, attached securely and connected with each other. The entire work is done by specialized technicians who are highly skilled in handling this type of work.

    There are a lot of variables and that have to be considered before and during installation. The roof structure and insulation has to be checked to ensure that it can bear the load and in which direction and angle the panels are to be installed. The rafters have to be checked for strength and the roof has to be replaced if it is found not strong enough.

    Securing them and the wiring itself involves a good degree of skill and knowledge and the cables that conduct power must be connected properly to the rest of the system after installation is complete. The type of roof may not be ideal for solar panels as well. It has to have a pitched structure so water doesn’t collect on it and this should provide easy access for ventilation as well as maintenance work.

    However, in this article we will look at the methods of installation of solar panels and discuss the steps involved in a general sense.

    Different Types of Roof – How Are Solar Panels Attached To Roof

    Different types of roofs have different requirements for attaching Solar Panels top them and it best that a thorough assessment is done before attempting to install said panels.

    The following are different types of roofs that are commonly found and how one might go about installing solar panels on them.

    1. Asphalt Shingle Roofs

    As the name suggests, asphalt shingle is the most common type of roofing in use. Asphalt shingles are laid in overlapping rows that protect the underlying roof structure from rain and snow.

    The best way to attach solar panels on an asphalt shingle roof is by using a lag bolt and flashing the panel in-between the shingles. This will ensure that there are no holes created which means that they can be easily patched when it is time for maintenance. The panel is then attached to the flashing with bolts.

    There are other ways of doing it as well, but they vary depending on what will work best for each installation. Some companies make custom solar panels that fit between the shingles and some others attach metal rails directly onto the roof which can support far more weight than asphalt shingles can. 

    2. Standing Seam Metal Roofs

    Standing seam metal roofs are very popular because they are durable, efficient and have a nice appearance. They are also typically used in the construction of commercial buildings because they can withstand heavy loads.

    To install panels, a U-clamp is attached to the raised seam and then another U-clamp is attached to the panel over the metal roof. Now both of these U-clamps sandwich the seam, holding it together and holding the panels in place. This will prevent any movement that would otherwise cause damage to the panels or roofs due to wind.

    3. Corrugated Metal Roofs

    When it comes to installing solar panels on a corrugated roof, the best way to go about it is by bolting them in-between the panels. Some manufacturers do make custom photovoltaic systems that take the shape of these roofs and are bolted directly onto it without gaps or holes that would interfere with waterproofing or ventilation when installed properly. 

    The bracket fits over the rib and the panel is secured to it with a bolt. This way, there’s no need for separate flashing or fastening and it can be easily removed when needed as well.

    4. Flat Roofs and Rubber Roofs

    Solar Panels are generally not recommended for flat roofs because of their low capacity to bear weight without buckling, they do not ventilate well and they cannot support or drain water properly. 

    However if one insists on using solar panels on a flat roof, make sure the structure is strong enough and repair any leaks before installation begins. The most common way to install solar panels on flat roofs is by using ballast mounts. These are metal attachments that bolt onto the roof. The good thing about ballast mounts is that they can tilt with the panels to allow for maximum sun exposure.

    There are also metal rails attached directly onto the roof which support far more weight than ballast mounts can without having to use a significant number of them and create extra gaps between the panels and the roof. 

    5. Sloped roof 

    For roofs that are sloped towards the edge, attach them with ballast mounts or metal rails. These will provide enough support to keep the panels in place securely.

    If you are attaching them on a roof that is sloped away from the edge, use brackets that clamp underneath the panel using its frame as a way of securing it in place instead of attaching directly to the roof.

    In some cases, rail-less ballast attachments can also be used. These are metal brackets that screw onto the roof’s surface and have tabs on them which hold the panels in place. The panels are then secured with bolts to these tabs.

    6. Roof Waterproofing

    Roof Waterproofing
    Source: Baumerk

    An additional but very useful think to keep in mind when installing solar panels is that you should waterproof the roof before attaching them. This will help prevent damage to both, your roof and your panel down the line. Make sure it’s properly dried out before adding flashing over the seams to keep water from seeping in.


    Do solar panels ruin your roof?

    As long as they are installed properly using suitable materials, all rooftop solar panel installations will not harm your roof. Even if you live in an area where there is plenty of snowfall or hail throughout the year, panels can normally be easily removed during storms to keep them and your roof safe.

    How long do solar panels last?

    You can expect solar panels to last 25-30 years, although their efficiency will decrease over time. Almost all panels come with 25 year warranties, which is usually the minimum you should expect out of them.


    When looking up how to install solar panels on your particular type of roof, be sure to assess whether or not they are safe for installation before proceeding with any sort of installation because the last thing anyone wants is something getting damaged due to improper installation practices. 

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