Can You Put Solar Panels on a Flat Roof?

Solar panels on a flat roof are not only feasible but very effective! Our guide covers everything you need to know.

Tom
February 14, 2024
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Quick Navigation:

  1. Can you put solar panels on a flat roof?
  2. How do solar panels on a flat roof work?
  3. Pros & Cons of Flat Roof Solar Panels
  4. Costs of Installing solar panels on a flat roof
  5. Do you need planning permission for flat roof solar panels?

Are You considering solar panels on a flat roof? This guide is your go-to resource for understanding how to harness solar energy with flat roof installations. 

In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about solar panels on flat roofs – from installation techniques and optimal angles to the unique benefits and considerations they bring.

Can you put solar panels on a flat roof?

It's completely feasible to install solar panels on a flat roof. The process might be a bit different from pitched roofs, but it's equally effective. Installers, like the experienced team at MakeMyHouseGreen, use the same type of solar panels for flat roofs as they do for pitched ones. However, there are some extra considerations to ensure that your solar PV system operates at its best.

These considerations might involve adjusting the angle of the panels to ensure they capture the most sunlight or considering the layout to avoid potential shading.  

With MakeMyHouseGreen, you can rest assured that fitting solar panels on your flat roof will be straightforward and efficient, tailored to harness the sun's power effectively.

Curious about how solar panels could benefit you? Our solar panel tool offers a 96% accurate estimation, giving you detailed insights into costs, potential savings, and energy production. It’s a great way to explore your options and see just how advantageous solar panels could be for your specific situation. Get started today and discover the potential of solar energy for your flat roof!

How do solar panels on a flat roof work?

Solar panels on a flat roof will work the same way as solar panels do on other roofs - they capture photons (packets of light energy) from sunlight and convert these into electricity. This is made possible due to the Photovoltaic material that solar panels contain. 

The only difference is that to capture as much sunlight as possible, flat roof solar panels need to be artificially raised to a 20–50-degree angle. Installers will create the angle by using specially designed tilted frames for solar panels.

Also, remember that you might not be able to fit as many panels on a flat roof as you would on a pitched roof. To avoid shading from the raised structure of the panels, there needs to be about a metre gap between each row of solar panels on a flat roof. This makes the shadow from the panels fall on an area without any panels. A pitched roof can have the panels placed closer together which is why you’d be likely to fit more panels.

Recommended Guide - How do Solar Panels Generate Electricity?

Solar panels on a flat roof

What is the best angle for solar panels?

To get the most out of your green investment, the solar panels should be mounted on the roof at an angle that best optimises sunlight exposure for that location. This is something that our Green Gurus will discuss with you during your free consultation. For the majority of roofs, this angle will be between 30 degrees and 45 degrees.

To achieve this angle on flat roofs, the panels will be placed in specially designed frames to create the desired angle.

Pros & Cons of Flat Roof Solar Panels

Flat roof solar panels have their advantages as well as some disadvantages. Important to note however is that the disadvantages can be overcome by taking into account some extra considerations.

Pros of Flat Roof Solar Panels

1) Flexible system design: When mounting solar panels to a sloping roof, installers will need to work with the existing angle and pitch of the roof. For flat roof panel installations, the solar panels will be placed on frames that can be angled as desired. This way, your system can capture as much of the sunlight as possible. 

2) Self-cleaning: When it rains in the UK, water will help the panels ‘self-clean’ and prevent damage from pooling water thanks to the tilt of the panels.

3) Safer maintenance: Solar panel maintenance and repairs are easier on flat roofs as there is often more space around the panels for someone to stand when working on the panels.

4) Better-looking configurations: Panels on flat roofs are less likely to be visible from the street.

Cons of Flat Roof Solar Panels

1. Space Limitations: Due to the need for tilted frames and spacing to avoid shading, you might not be able to fit as many solar panels on a flat roof compared to a pitched roof. The additional space required between rows to prevent shading means less overall surface area is available for panel installation.

2. Structural Considerations: The weight of the solar panels and their mounting systems could be a concern, especially for older buildings. It's important to ensure that the roof structure can support this additional weight without compromising the building's integrity.

3. Wind Exposure: Flat roof solar panels might be more exposed to wind, which can increase the risk of damage. This can be overcome by installing robust mounting systems to secure the panels against high winds.

4. Drainage Issues: Proper drainage is crucial to prevent water from pooling around the panels. Ineffective drainage can lead to water damage or accumulation of debris, which might affect the panels' efficiency.

Solar panels on flat roof that have been set up for best performance

Costs of Installing solar panels on a flat roof

The cost of installing solar panels on a flat roof can vary due to several unique factors. While the price of the solar panels and basic equipment is consistent with pitched roof installations, flat roofs often require additional mounting gear to angle the panels correctly, potentially increasing equipment costs. 

The installation process on flat roofs can be more intricate, leading to higher labour costs, especially if structural modifications are needed to support the panel system. Despite these potential additional expenses, the ease of maintenance and the ability to optimise panel angles for increased efficiency can make flat roof installations a cost-effective option in the long run. 

As costs can differ based on your specific requirements and property, we’d advise using our solar panel tool to receive a personalised price estimate. For more information about the cost of solar panels in the UK, we’d recommend the linked guide. 

Do you need planning permission for flat roof solar panels?

Planning permission is necessary if the solar panels would increase the height of the property by more than 20cm when installed on the roof. Normally this is only the case if the flat roof is at the very top of the structure.

If in doubt, check with The Planning Portal – the national planning application service for England and Wales – or get in touch with one of our expert Green Homes Gurus who will help with the solar system design and walk you through the requirements. 

Flat Roof Solar Panel Installation 

Opt for MakeMyHouseGreen for your flat roof solar panel installation to ensure a system that's tailored for optimal efficiency and performance. Our expert team specialises in flat roof setups, taking care of every detail from equipment selection to precise installation.

To understand the full benefits and costs for your specific property, use our solar panel calculator tool. It provides a personalised estimate, including system size, potential savings, and investment needs. 

Final Thoughts

In summary, with a correctly designed system, solar panels on flat roofs can be as effective as on pitched roofs!We’re here to provide you with all the other tools needed to work out which green home improvements would work best for you – simply check out our Green Guides section or drop us an email via team@makemyhousegreen.com.

Recommended Guides:

- How many solar panels will fit on my roof?

- Do solar panels work without sunlight?

- How do solar panels work?

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