Best Place to Install Solar Panels
Most people will choose to place solar panels on the roof of their home or garage. While this is the norm, it is also feasible to place solar panels on outbuildings or barns.
In fact, structures not meant for human habitation, like barns, for example, require less paperwork and even easier to permit than a standard home. A solar array can be placed on the ground as well if your roof is questionable.
Making Your Roof Work
Your roof should be structurally stable and able to handle the weight and wind-driven forces exerted by a solar installation.
Now, solar panels are very light. They only weigh about 45 lbs a piece, so structural integrity is usually very easy to analyze and permit. In fact, most modern Washington and Oregon jurisdictions carry an expedited permitting process for this reason.
The wind and snow load requirements vary from region to region, but again, modern framed homes usually carry a fast-track permit option when standard construction practices are used.
In the event your roof is not of standard construction, it may be necessary to have a structural engineer take a look to ensure that structure will hold. This process is usually fairly inexpensive and only adds a nominal fee to the cost of an installation.
When solar is installed on a newer roof, the solar panel array itself can help to protect the roof underneath from rain, snow and sun damage. Re-roofing around and under a solar array is not difficult, but it will add a small amount to the cost.
Not All Buildings Require The Same Amount of Detail
Barns and outbuildings do not require the same level of permitting as homes and garages. This can make them an excellent choice for solar and at a lower cost! If no roof is appropriate, a ground-mounted system can perform extremely well, and will only add a small amount to the total cost of an installation.
Are You Are Unsure?
It is best to have a reputable solar installer take a look during a free site evaluation. Re-roofing after going solar can be a little more expensive, so it is important to consider your roof life and the scheduled maintenance of your home. Your roof should be fairly new and have at least 10 years of rated life remaining to it.