Lyons Roofing

Which Types of Roofing Are Best for Building Solar?

Solar power is rapidly growing in popularity, and Arizona is one of the hottest (pun intended) markets in the country right now. The idea of being able to harvest just a small portion of the energy that the sun pummels the earth which each day to power our homes is one which has a lot of people excited. In fact, solar is growing so quickly that people are often looking to build or even remodel their homes with solar energy farms in mind.

Most homeowners choose to install solar panels on their rooftop because their roof receives a ton of unencumbered direct sunlight each day, which makes them the most productive and maximizes the return on their investment. However, mounting solar on your rooftop does mean you have to work around the material your roof is constructed from. Solar panels aren’t exactly light, and they’ll need to be securely mounted to your roof in order to withstand wind, rain, and other natural hazards which could cause them to shift or fall.

If you know you’re going to have to replace your roof soon or you’re looking for the ideal roofing material to use when building your new home, and you want to build it with solar in mind, then this blog is for you. We’ll take a closer look at which materials are best for solar integration, including which will last longest, keep your roof the most secure, and keep your home as energy efficient as possible.

Clay Tiles

Clay tiles are one of the most common types of roof material in Arizona. Their lighter color helps keep heat out, their solid nature helps prevent damage from a number of sources, and they’re incredibly durable, with some installations lasting 50 years or more. They’re also a great material for installing solar! Because the tiles are small, it’s extremely easy to work around them when installing mounting hardware. Keep in mind that your installers may need to remove some of the tiles or modify them in order to make sure your mounting is properly configured. However, good installers are skilled in doing so, and can make sure your roof remains leak-free and protected from the elements even with solar mounting hardware installed.

However, there is one downside to a clay tile roof: solar installation is a bit more expensive. Because of the added labor needed to work through the solid clay tile surface, installation does take more time, and that means a more difficult project. Additionally, you may need slightly different mounting hardware in order to hold your panels above your roof. Your panels can’t rest on the surface of a clay tile roof (the weight may crush the tiles) and the changed mounting hardware could cost slightly more.

Tar & Gravel Roofs

Tar and gravel roofs are a popular type of flat roofing used in many businesses, but are becoming more prevalent in homes. Their low cost, impeccable durability, and general energy efficiency make them an ideal choice for a roof in Arizona. Because these roofs are coated with a thick layer of gravel, they’re quite good at rejecting heat from the sun. They’re also great for working with, and are pretty easy to install solar panels on.

When installing solar on a flat roof, your mounting hardware will be different. Panels need to be mounted at an angle in order to maximize sun exposure and productivity, so you may be spending more on the mounting hardware in general. However, the lack of slope makes solar particularly easy to work with. And mounting to tar and gravel roofs is particularly simple, as the material isn’t prone to cracking or additional damage during the mounting process.

Composite Roofing

Composite roofing is becoming popular because it’s becoming cheaper to manufacture, thus bringing the cost down. Often times composite roofing is composed of recycled or recyclable materials, and that means these roofs are eco-friendly and don’t create waste when they wear out and need replaced. Much like other types of tile roofs, they are generally pretty simple to work around when installing mounting hardware. However, just like clay tiles, they may require some type of modification in order for the mounting hardware to sit properly and your roof to remain fully-functional.

A Note About Asphalt Shingles

It’s not uncommon for people to come to us wondering about the feasibility of asphalt shingles when it comes to solar panel integration. While it’s true that shingles is perhaps one of the best materials for solar integration in general, it is not an ideal material in Arizona. Our climate is far too harsh for shingles to be a viable roofing material. The long months of brutal, triple-digit heat and unceasing sunlight cause asphalt shingles to wear out far faster than they would in other climates found around the country. Their dark color also makes them absorb a lot more energy, and that means they actually absorb more heat, which filters into your home and actually makes it less efficient.

Whereas in other climates these roofs have a lifespan of around 15 to 20 years or more, Arizonans may find themselves replacing an asphalt shingle roof sooner than that. If you have solar panels on your roof, that means you’ll have to have your panels removed, then your roof replaced, and then your panels re-installed, which adds considerable time and expense to your roof replacement project. If you have a shingle roof it would be prudent to determine how much life you have left in your roof before making an investment that you will have to pay to remove and reset in short order.

Do you need your roof replaced? Call the experts at Lyons Roofing at (520) 447-2522 and request a consultation with our team today!