Installing Solar Panels on a Tile Roof
The roof is the most popular place to mount solar panels. But if you don’t have a flat roof, you may be wondering if installing solar panels on a tile roof is possible. The answer is yes!
While installing solar panels on tile roofs poses a slight challenge, it’s not impossible. The solar industry now has mounting solutions for all roof types, including concrete tile roofs, clay tile roofs and Spanish tile roofs.
This blog will share some things you should know about installing solar panels on a tile roof.
What to Know Before Installing Solar Panels on a Tile Roof
Walk Carefully on a Tile Roof
Roof tiles are notoriously fragile. Generally, you should avoid walking on them. But if you’re setting up a solar panel system, you don’t have another option — so proceed with extra care.
If you are installing solar panels on a Spanish tile roof, step in the center of the tiles that curve toward the roof. This way, you’re applying pressure on the peak of the tile that is laying directly on the roof surface, not the part of the tile that has no support beneath.
For other types of concrete tiles or clay tiles, you’ll want to step on the bottom edge of the tile where it overlaps the tile below. You’ll have support from the lower tile, making the tiles less likely to crack.
It is also good to balance your weight between both feet, so you aren’t applying too much pressure in one spot.
Have Spare Roof Tiles Handy
Even if you step in all the right places, there’s a good chance some roof tiles will still break. So, make sure you have some spare tiles on hand before starting. You might be able to save some money by buying used roof tiles from your local roofer.
Pro-tip: You’ll want to purchase spare roof tiles that match your existing tile shape. They don’t necessarily need to match in color, as your solar panels will cover the replacement tiles.
Consider Installing Shingle Under the Solar Array
Many solar installers prefer to replace tiles under a solar array with shingles instead of installing the solar panels directly on a tiled roof.
It’s easier to mount solar panels on shingles. But you must ensure the edges where the roof tiles meet the shingle seals shut. You don’t want water doesn’t permeate into your roof, causing unwanted leaks or damage.
How to Install Solar Panels on Tile Roofs Correctly
Here are some other pro tips that you need to know now that you’re ready to install solar panels on your tile roof.
Make a Pathway
One trick that solar installers use when dealing with a tile roof is to create a pathway from the ladder to the solar array by removing all the tiles in that path. This way, you won’t have to worry about where to step while carrying tools, racking systems and solar panels to your installation area.
Flash the Paper
Your roof still needs to keep you dry around the clock. The roofing paper under your roof tiles is where the waterproofing magic happens. When installing solar panels on tile, you must protect the roofing paper with flashing to prevent water from getting underneath the paper.
Choose the Right Hardware Solution
Many installation solutions for solar panels on tile roofs are available today. Here are a few options.
Roof Tile Replacements:
- This solar mount for tile roofs (like this one from IronRidge) replaces a whole roof tile at every solar mount.
- Pros: You end up with a few extra roof tiles to replace ones that might break during installation.
- Cons: You have to have a compatible roof tile shape.
Universal Roof Tile Mounts:
- A universal roof tile mount is a large, flexible metal flashing that can be bent to shape your roof tiles.
- Pros: Works with any tile shape.
- Cons: You’ll have to cut the existing tiles and bend the metal flashing, which is time-consuming. Universal roof tile mounts are also expensive.
- We highly recommend that you mount your solar panels on a tile roof using tile hooks.
- Tile hooks mount under the tile, with a part that sticks out to hold the solar racking.
- Pros: Works with any roof tile, and no cutting or shape matching is necessary. Opt for a brand like Quick Hook mounts — these include metal flashing to protect water penetration through your roof’s paper.
Need More Help Installing Solar Panels on a Tile Roof?
If you have concerns about installing solar panels on your tile roof, don’t worry — help is just a call or email away! Here at GoGreenSolar, we’re veterans in the solar industry and specialize in solar panel kits for DIY installation. We’re happy to help you choose the right hardware and solar panels for your specialty roof and will support you throughout your solar installation with great detail and care! Contact us today.