How to Add Solar Panels to a Flat Roof

With growing concerns over the environmental effects of burning fossil fuels and rising energy prices, many people are looking to renewable energy as a clean alternative and a way to cut down on energy costs.

Installing Solar Panels

Installing solar panels into a home not only will reduce electrical bills, but may also actually help you make money by generating electricity. Although the installation cost can be expensive, the government offers programs and tax credits for "green" home improvement projects like this one.

Determine how big the array on your roof will be and mark off where it will be installed.

Use a stud finder to locate the studs in the area where the panels will be installed and mark them off. The attachment points will be spaced in a rectangular grid pattern, 4 to 6 feet apart.

Align the mount over the stud where it will be attached and drill a pilot hole.

Use stainless steel lag bolts to attach the mounts to the roof, driving them in through the pilot holes you've drilled.

Slide the flashings over the mounts, tucking the top edge under the shingle and nailing it to the roof.

Attach metal rails to the posts with 3/8" stainless steel bolts. Install the solar panels and connect them so they form an array and also install all the wiring connections.

Wiring

Run the electrical conduit from the array to the place the inverter will be located, attaching it to the roof.

Run the wiring through the electrical conduit, following the instructions provided by the manufacturer to connect the wires to the solar panels correctly.

Take the side of the wiring that's not attached to the array and run it into the inverter and disconnect switches. The inverter converts the DC current that the solar panels produce into the AC current you use in your house. The disconnect switches allow you to turn the system off so that you can safely make repairs. The control equipment should be placed near your electrical box.

Install a new circuit breaker in your electrical box and feed the lines leading from the solar array into the electrical box through the new circuit breaker. You might want to hire an electrician for this step if you're not comfortable doing it.

Things You Will Need

  • Solar panel array
  • Chalk
  • Stud finder
  • Solar panel mounts
  • Drill
  • Stainless steel lag bolts
  • Metal flashings
  • Metal rails
  • 3/8" stainless steel bolts
  • Electrical conduit
  • Circuit breaker

Tips

  • Ideally, you should install the solar panels while the house is under construction or a new roof is being installed.
  • When you're attaching the mounts to the roof, use a chalk line or laser sight to keep them in a straight line.

About the Author

Carson Barrett began writing professionally in 2009. He has been published on various websites. Barrett is currently attending Bucks County Community College, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in sports management.