Installing solar panels is a highly effective, environmentally friendly way of harnessing the power of solar energy by turning it into electricity using photovoltaic technology. Solar panels are designed specially to capture as much sunlight as they can, with row upon row of photovoltaic cells running across the panel’s surface to absorb energy from the sun and start converting it into electricity.
Many solar panels in the UK can be found attached to traditionally sloping rooftops to maximise exposure to the sunlight. However, there are also many examples around of flat roof solar energy systems that lie horizontally to the ground, as opposed to along the slope of the roof. These are particularly common on commercial premises, which tend to have flatter rooftops taking up far more surface area than the pitched rooftops of domestic dwellings or outhouses.
Caring for a flat roof solar panel system
Installation and maintenance for a flat roof system are largely similar to that of a pitched roof. Care must be taken to choose a suitable area that receives optimal amounts of sunlight, and that is away from things that can potentially damage it, such as vehicles, agricultural stock or vandalism. However extra attention must be paid to protecting a flat roof system from high winds and flying dust and dirt, as this will not slide off quite so easily with rainfall, for example, or via gravity. Make sure you can access the panels easily for repairs, inspections and regular cleaning.
Advantages of flat roof solar panels
There are several advantages to installing solar panels on a flat roof. They are usually easier to access (and stay safely upright during installation) than pitched alternatives. They can also be a more discreet option if you don’t wish your new panels to be visible from the street, other people’s houses or surrounding commercial offices or local amenities. You normally do not need planning permission to install flat roof solar systems, although it would be prudent to double-check this with the relevant local authority, as there are likely to be some exceptions to this rule.
Disadvantages to flat roof solar panels
You will need to ensure that the panels are easily accessible for cleaning, as the dirt will not run off quite so easily, as discussed above. You may also find it harder to identify a suitable location if your rooftops are all pitched, or you have a cluttered flat roof already. Solar panel experts can help you with this, and assist you in sourcing the most suitable system for your location and requirements. Flat roof panels can also be more susceptible to damage from storms and strong winds, which can cause greater harm to panels fixed on sloped rooftops if they are not attached correctly with adverse weather accounted for.
How to fix your flat roof panel system
Flat roof panels should ideally be fixed at an angle of around 20 to 50 degrees. This slight tilting upwards allows the PV cells to capture more sunlight than if they were placed completely flat. Installers often use an A-frame to mount panels at the desired angle and an expert can advise you on how best to go about fixing and angling your new solar panel system on a flat roof.
If you wish to add a solar thermal system to help offset your standard domestic or commercial heating bills and generate your own hot water, this can also be done on a flat roof or surface, with the system attached in the same way as solar panels. Ensure that you hire a qualified professional to source and install your system so that it can start working for you straight away and will not create problems or malfunction further down the line.
Want to know more?
If you are interested in installing a flat roof solar panel system, or solar thermal system on your domestic home or commercial premises, give UPS Solar a call today. We can arrange a no-obligation consultation and free quote to help you decide on your next steps towards a more sustainable way of living and generating and storing greener energy to heat, light and power your office and work operations or your home.