As a PV solar installer in New Mexico, we have come to understand the challenges of roof top solar installations.  As an important component in the solar site analysis, we identify and evaluate several characteristics, such as (but not limited to):  roof drainage, wiring layout, roof age, roof quality, and wind/debris events.  Roof tops are usually the most common way to locate solar, because of the proximity to utility hookups and least likely to be shaded.  Also, it’s the most cost effective way to put solar on a building, because it does not require additional infrastructure.

Do I need a new roof for a solar installation?

During the site analysis, we perform a roof evaluation.  One of the first questions we answer is “Does it make sense to install the solar array on the roof?”  Sometimes, the roof is not always the best place to install solar. Other options can include pole mount, ground mount, and carport mount systems. If the customer is planning a re-roof, a solar electric system installation is best planned simultaneously, and rolled into the PV system package.  This way, the roof work will qualify for tax credits as well.

How will solar affect my roof?

There are a variety of technologies to install solar on roofs.  First we consider how we would mount it.  There are non-invasive options, such as ballasted racking.  Ballasted racking is a great option for flat roofs to avoid any penetration into the roof by racking.  It is held down by weights, so there is no risk of compromising the rooftop.  Another advantage to using ballasted racking is that it uses a low-tilt angle, which (for many people) is considered more aesthetic.

New Mexico rooftop solar installation

For New Mexicans, the two most common roof types are brai and metal roofs.  For brai roofs, we have found that roof jacks are leak-proof.  For this type of installation, we have the roof dressing completed by a roofing company.  For metal roofs, the racking attachments are carefully designed and installed.  Most common, this type of racking is backed with a 10 year warranty.

Solar and roofing have an important relationship, and the technology of the future promises an even easier integration.  New installation methods are being developed, and with proper planning, each roof top has the potential to be a great solar project.


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