How to check if your roof is suitable for solar: houses

Solar installation has come a long way in a short time, and most roofs can sustain panels easily. But there are a few considerations.

Every solar installation is unique: it’s not uncommon for 2 homes in the same street to have very different setups. Factors such as the size and position of your roof, the overall condition of your home, tree cover, shade and the proximity of surrounding buildings can all have an impact.

“We’ve seen a huge variety of solar installations in the council area recently,” said Melinda Dewsnap, Sustainability Engagement Manager at the City of Sydney. “Improved technology and lower costs have made it easier for residents to add rooftop solar.”

Here are the most important factors to look at if you’re considering rooftop solar.

How much roof space do I have?

Do you know exactly what is on your roof? You may be surprised to discover aerials, old skylights or other obstructions that could reduce your available roof space. But don’t be discouraged if your roof space is small: correctly installed rooftop solar can still make a big difference.

Photo: Jessica Lindsay

Which way does my roof face?

A north-facing roof is ideal for solar because it gives you good exposure to sunlight throughout the day. In a sunny location such as Sydney, east-facing and west-facing roofs also perform well. South-facing roofs are less suitable but can still offer decent output depending on total available roof space.

What’s the angle of my roof?

Solar panels perform best when angled between 10 degrees and 45 degrees. If your roof space is flat, you will need to install roof brackets to hold the panels at an angle.

Is my roof shaded?

Shade from trees and surrounding buildings can substantially impact how much energy your panels generate. Not all shading is immediately obvious – for example, deciduous trees cast less shade in winter. Consider, too, whether any building construction is planned nearby that could cast shade.

Is my roof sturdy enough for panels?

The vast majority of roofs in the City of Sydney are strong enough to accommodate solar panels, but older roofs may need to be repaired or reinforced first. If your roof is tiled, it will be necessary to affix brackets to hold your panels. Your accredited installer will be able to assess this for you.

Is my home in a heritage area?

Dwellings within heritage areas can still install rooftop solar, but certain conditions apply and a development application [HYPERLINK TO ARTICLE #10] may be required.

What can I do if my home isn’t suitable for solar?

If you’d like to access renewable energy but can’t generate it yourself, consider signing up for GreenPower, which provides green electricity through the regular energy grid. Start by talking to your energy retailer.

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