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Where can I install solar panels besides my roof? Will they work on a flat roof?

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, used to produce electricity, may be installed on roofs with south, west, or east facing exposure, in yards as a pole mount or ground mount, or as an architectural feature such as an awning, pergola, or carport.  Panels can be installed on a flat roof when supported by racking mounted at an angle and typically grounded with ballast weights to avoid penetrating the roof. Installers can analyze the distribution of ballast weights to satisfy wind ratings and dead weight maximums.  See the image Gallery on this site to see some of the ways that local residential, commercial, and institutional solar owners have installed panels.
Solar thermal panels, used to heat water, should be installed directly above the water tank or as close to the tank as possible. Solar air furnaces should be installed on a south-facing wall and vented to an inside room with good air circulation.

On the subject of roofs, people often ask if the age of their shingles matter. It is probably best to replace shingles before installing solar panel if the shingles are near the end of their life.  (Covering shingles less than halfway through their expected life may extend their life.)

Category: Solar Basics

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