Can You Have a Solar Panels on a Flat Floor?
The solar industry is booming. With the cost of installing solar panels going up, many homeowners are looking for ways to save money and space on their roofs.
One solution that has been increasing in popularity is the installation of a flat panel system.
But, can solar panels be installed flat?
This article will discuss how these systems work and what you should know before deciding if they’re right for your home.
So without further ado let’s go into details.
Solar PV On A Flat Roof
Yes, solar panels can be installed flat.
Instead of using traditional mounting systems that are typically mounted at an angle on the roof, certain inverters can use flat-mounted panels.
This is often used in commercial installations where roofs are not suitable for standard mounting systems due to roof geometry or HVAC equipment layouts.
When utilizing solar panels that are mounted flat, the system will typically have lower output compared to those installed at a standard angle.
Related Article: How Close Solar Panels Can Be to the Edge of a Roof?
How Do Solar Panel Systems Work On A Flat Roof?
Utilizing flat-mounted panels on a roof is not very different from using traditional roof-mounted systems.
The key difference when installing solar panels flat is the inverter, which will need to have an automated tilt function to tilt the panel up at an angle during periods of higher sun exposure (if installed facing south).
Since standard mounting systems are not compatible with flat-mounted panels, a custom system needs to be designed and installed for the flat panel system to operate.
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How Long Have Solar Panels Been Installed On Flat Roofs?
In recent years, this type of system has become much more commonly used.
However, the idea of flat panels on a roof has not been new by any means.
Solar models have long slowed to gather energy from rooftops because it is easier to position them properly to get the most out of each panel without worrying about mounting issues.
Just as solar collectors can be mounted on inclined surfaces to make use of the extra energy, they can also be installed on flat roofs to make use of their total area.
Related Article: How Are Solar Panels Installed On Tile Roof?
How Much Electricity Do Solar Panels Produce On A Flat Roof?
The amount of electricity produced by solar panels is based on several factors including:
- weather conditions (sunny days are best),
- The output of the inverter (the higher the better)
- orientation of the solar panels (a south-facing roof will produce more electricity than a north-facing roof).
The average person can expect to produce anywhere from 5-300 kWh per day, but these numbers will change depending on your energy needs.
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Advantages and disadvantages of flat roof solar panels
- Typically cost less than traditional mounting systems
- You can have different types of panels on one system, for example, solar panels that face East, West, North, and South
- easy access for maintenance
- rarely visible from the ground
- Lower output as compared to standard roof-mounted systems
- Limited roof geometry for this type of installation
- Greater shading loss due to lack of space between panels
Related Article: Do Solar Panels Damage Roof?
Will The Efficiency Of My Solar Panels Be Reduced If They Are Installed Flat?
So long as the solar panels are installed at an angle (±15°) to optimize production, they can remain in that position for their entire life.
Solar panel systems that utilize flat-mounted panels will typically produce less electricity due to the limited surface area of each panel compared to standard roof-mounted systems with higher tilt angles.
This is often offset by the lower installation costs for this type of system.
Related Article: Are solar panels easily damaged?
Do I Need Planning Permission For A Solar On A Flat Roof?
Most municipalities require planning permission for flat-panel systems to be installed, even when the panels are not visible from the ground.
It is best to check with your local municipality before purchasing and installing a solar panel system to ensure compliance with any building codes or other restrictions that may apply.
Related Article: What Permits Do I Need To Install Solar Panels?
What Wind Considerations Must Be Made When Installing Flat Roof Solar Panels?
High wind areas will require the use of additional masts or ballast to secure flat roof solar panels.
In these cases, a fixed-tilt system is better suited because the increased load may cause the roof to shift over time.
Related Article: Can I Add More Solar Panels to My System?
Is It Necessary To Use Special Equipment To Install Solar Panels On A Flat Roof?
Solar panel systems on flat roofs will typically use a more advanced inverter that can automatically adjust the tilt of each solar panel for them to stay optimally angled during periods of higher sun exposure.
Without this advanced inverter, a more advanced installation with a custom system would be required for the panels to optimize their production.
Related Article: Can You Put Solar Panels On A Shake Roof?
Is There Any Installation Or Environmental Issues With Flat Panels?
Flat-mounted systems do not pose any additional installation or environmental concerns.
The only requirement is that the solar panels must stay clean and must be cleaned regularly to maintain optimal output.
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Is There A Limit To The Number Of Solar Panels That Can Be Installed Flat?
There are no limits as to how many panels can be mounted flat, but it will depend on the size of the roof and the available area to install solar panels.
Since these systems are designed for commercial use, they’re typically installed on larger buildings with plenty of space to use flat-mounted panels.
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What Angle Do Solar Panels On A Flat Roof Need To Be?
Typically, solar panels should be installed flat at roughly a 15° angle from horizontal.
This will maximize the panel’s production and optimize the system for high sun exposure times during the day.
In some cases where roof geometry allows for it, higher tilt angles may be required to compensate for lower daily energy output due to limited surface area.
Related Article: Can You Put Solar panels on an East Facing Roof?
Is Installing Solar Panels At An Angle More Difficult Or Expensive?
There is no additional difficulty in installing a standard system vs an angled system.
The cost for this will depend on the roof structure you have and how accessible your roof is.
Angled solar panel systems are more expensive than standard ones due to having longer rails, which can be difficult to install in certain situations.
The equipment used for flat-mounted panels is typically not compatible with traditional systems so additional components may need to be purchased when installing this type of system.
Related Article: How Long Does It Take To Install Solar Panels?
How Do I Select The Best Solar Panel System For My Needs?
To determine which type of solar system will meet your energy needs, you first need to know how much electricity you use per month.
Once you know this number, you can work out how many panels are required to meet your demand each day and also see what kind of gains can be made by re-orientating your panels during the day.
Any type of solar panel system can be installed on a flat roof.
However, the panels need to be adjusted in such a way that they will receive optimal exposure to the sun.
A fixed-tilt system is better suited when there is no access to the roof for angled installation.
We hope you enjoyed this article as much as we did.
If you still have any questions, share them with us in the comment section below.