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How are Solar Panels Installed on a Roof?

installing solar panels

Installing solar panels on your roof is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on energy costs. It’s no wonder that more people are turning to solar power these days. But what does it take to set up a rooftop solar power system? In this blog post, we’ll break down the steps involved in setting up a complete rooftop solar power system.

Step 1 - Inspection

Getting your roof inspected before installing solar panels is both a requirement and creates many benefits. First, an experienced and qualified inspector will be able to properly assess the condition of your existing roof before any new materials are installed over it. This will help determine whether it needs repairs or if it just needs routine maintenance in order to provide you with maximum performance and longevity from your solar panel system.

Second, an inspector will be able to identify any potential problem areas that could cause costly damage down the road due to improper installation or defective products. Additionally, an inspection can also identify any potential safety hazards that could result in injury to yourself or others if left unaddressed.

And finally, the inspection verifies that your roof's supporting structure can bear the weight of solar panels; which is one of the main reasons a homeowner can be disqualified from solar.

Interior Inspection Procedure:

During an interior inspection, a professional will come into your attic and look for any signs of trouble. They will be looking for insulation issues, ventilation problems, any mold or mildew, and the status of the rafters. All of these can be early signs that there is trouble with your roof. For example, if there are any issues with the rafters, it could be an indicator that the roof will be unable to support the weight of a solar panel array.

Exterior Inspection Procedure:

After the interior inspection has been completed, the inspector will move on to the outside of your home or building where they will look for anything that might indicate potential problems with your roofing structure as well as ensure quality weather proofing. It is also a way to identify anything that will obstruct panel installation like air vents, skylights, conduit, etc. This includes checking for signs of aging in the material itself as well as any weather damage to roofing tiles or shingles that may have occurred due to storms or other natural disasters. The inspector will also check for any leaks or loose shingles that could potentially cause further damage down the line if not addressed promptly. Removing panels and then reinstalling them is a huge pain. So it's very common to recommend updates or fixes to a roof that will eventually (or immediately) be needed so as to avoid having to remove and reinstall the panels at a later date.

A comprehensive roof inspection by a professional is essential when it comes to ensuring your home or business building is fully ready for solar installation. It’s important to not only check for visible signs of damage but also underlying problems which can lead to more serious issues further down the line if left unchecked. Any trouble with the roof could cause complications during installation so it’s best to address them before beginning work on the project.

Step 2 - Planning

Planning a solar installation project can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right planning and preparation steps, you can ensure that your solar project is successful and that you are able to get the most out of your solar power system.

Identifying Shady Areas and Obstructions

Before beginning any sort of installation, it is important to identify any shady areas or obstructions that could affect your solar panel array’s performance. Having your solar installation professional identify these potential problems is key in optimizing your solar project and maximizing the energy output. The solar installers use specific software that simulates sun coverage for your specific situation throughout the year. They are able to predict with high accuracy the kind of coverage a panel layout will get throughout the seasons and changing daylight patterns.

Shady Areas

The location of your installation is important. Not only do you want a space with plenty of sun exposure but you also want to make sure that this area is not shaded by trees, buildings, or other obstructions throughout the year. It is important to keep in mind that shadows can move throughout the day and even change seasonally due to foliage changing leaves or branches growing. If there are any potential obstacles nearby, it is best practice for a professional installer to inspect them before beginning installation.


It is not just shading that can interfere with the success of your solar panel array; obstructions such as chimneys, antennas, and vents must be considered as well. These types of obstructions can block some of the sun’s rays from hitting a portion of your panels which would result in less energy output overall. For example, if an antenna were placed in front of a third row of panels, those panels would receive significantly less sunlight than their counterparts further away from the obstruction. It is important to note these areas ahead of time so they can be taken into consideration when designing your layout accordingly.

Identifying Ideal Direction For Your Solar Panel Array

It is important to consider the direction in which you will be pointing your panels, because this can dramatically affect how much energy your system produces. Generally, south-facing roofs perform best, but east-facing systems can also be effective depending on location and climate considerations. To get the most out of your system, it is always a good idea to consult an experienced professional who will be able to advise you on the best orientation for your solar array.

Choosing Panel Layout To Optimize Power Bill Offset

Once you have identified the ideal direction for your solar panel array, you need to consider how many panels will be needed in order to offset your energy bills. It is important that you take into consideration both current energy needs as well as potential future needs so that you can determine the size of the system that best suits your needs and budget. Working together with an experienced installer will help ensure that all requirements are met in order for maximum efficiency from day one.


From local zoning regulations to state and federal laws, there are various considerations when it comes to getting permission to install a solar system.

Local Zoning Restrictions

Depending on where you live, there may be specific rules related to installing a solar power system. You will need to make sure that your proposed installation does not violate any of these regulations. This includes ensuring that the size and placement of the panels do not exceed any restrictions or interfere with public utilities, such as electricity lines or sewer pipes.

Homeowners Association Rules

If you live in an area with a homeowner’s association, you will need to check their policies regarding solar installations. In most cases, homeowner associations will have their own set of rules and regulations that must be followed in order for you to receive approval for the installation of your solar system. It is important to check with your HOA early on in the process so that you can ensure compliance with all relevant requirements before moving forward.

State and Federal Laws

Once you have checked your local zoning regulations and complied with any applicable homeowner association requirements, it is important to familiarize yourself with state and federal laws related to solar power systems. Many states have adopted renewable energy standards or incentive programs for homeowners who choose to install solar systems on their property. Furthermore, some states may offer tax credits or other financial incentives for making this type of investment in green energy sources. It is essential that you understand all relevant state and federal laws before beginning the permitting process.

The permitting process for installing a solar system can seem daunting, but the good news is that with SolarUnion, we’ll guide you through each step of the permitting process. You don’t have to figure it all out on your own.

Step 3 - Installation

Set Up Scaffolding Installer Safety and Access

The first step in installing a solar system is to set up a system of safety for the installer to access the roof safely. Installers sometimes use scaffolding, but often just use a ladder and then a tether affixed on top of the roof. The exact setup will be different each time depending on the roof.

Install Solar Panel Mounts

Once safe access is set up, the installer will begin by mounting the panels onto your roof. Depending on your roof type and layout, different mounting systems may be used (e.g., tilt mounts or flush mounts). The installer will ensure that each panel mount is securely fastened and aligned properly with respect to sunlight exposure throughout the day.

Install The Solar Panels

Once all of the panel mounts are installed, it's time to attach each panel to its mount(s). The installer will use screws or bolts as necessary to secure each panel in place. Some panels may require additional sealing around edges or corners, which can include caulking or other sealants as required.

Wire The Solar Panels

Next, it's time to wire the panels together into strings in order for them to be connected into one circuit running from your roof down into your inverter. This wiring process requires precision and care since any mistakes can cause problems down the line. The wiring must also comply with local building codes so that it is safe for both you and your family as well as any surrounding homes or businesses.

Install Solar Inverter

Once all of the wiring has been completed on your roof, an inverter needs to be installed. They can be installed either inside or outside of your home depending on the space available and the type of inverter. This inverter takes direct current (DC) electricity generated by your solar panels and converts it into alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used by most household appliances such as lights and televisions. The inverter also provides monitoring capabilities so that you can track how much energy you are producing at any given time throughout the day, week, month or year.

Connect Inverter To Consumer Unit

Once all components have been securely connected and tested, the installer will then connect the inverter to the home’s main electrical panel—the central hub where all of your electrical circuits meet up—so that power generated by your solar system can be distributed throughout your property.

Start & Test Solar Panels

Once everything has been installed and connected correctly, it’s time to start up the system and begin testing it out! This involves switching on each individual panel one-by-one while monitoring their performance using specialized software tools. These tests will be done by SolarUnion installers.

Final Checks & Documentation

Finally, once all tests have been completed successfully, our installers will provide you with detailed documentation regarding how best to maintain your new solar system over time as well as instructions on how to use it safely and efficiently. They will also go through any remaining questions or concerns you may have about getting started with renewable energy sources for yourself or business premises.

The system can be turned on (and kept on) once the city provides permission to operate. The installers can test the installation, but after install the city has to provide the green light to operate the system. The process for obtaining this "go ahead" is unique to every jurisdiction.

Step 4 - Long Term Maintenance

Having a professional occasionally maintain your solar system is the best way to ensure that it is running at optimal efficiency. Though this happens infrequently, professional maintenance helps identify potential issues before they happen and keeps your system running at peak performance, while avoiding costly repairs down the line. Not only do you get peace of mind knowing that a trained professional is taking care of your system, but you also get a warranty on all service and repairs provided by SolarUnion professionals.

In addition, SolarUnion professionals offer tailored maintenance plans that can help save time and money when it comes to caring for your solar system. These plans include regular inspections as well as preventive maintenance services such as cleaning panels, replacing parts, and inspecting wiring connections for signs of corrosion or wear. There are also additional services available such as monitoring systems, remote diagnostics, and more advanced maintenance services like inverter testing and battery storage checks. With these options, you can rest assured knowing that even the most complex components in your solar power setup are being taken care of by experts.

Something to Keep In Mind

Solar installation is not about punching holes into your roof—it requires careful attention to detail in order to ensure that your system functions optimally for many years down the line. At SolarUnion, we take great pride in our craftsmanship and make sure that every step of the installation process is done correctly. From electrical wiring to mounting brackets, we double-check every aspect of the install to make sure that everything is up to code before leaving the site. For specifics on our quality assurances, ask your SolarUnion rep about our roof and production warranties.

Now that you better understand the process of installing solar on your roof, you can rest assured knowing that your system will be installed correctly with no damage to your home. If you’re ready for solar or want to know more, call us today. We’re ready to help you on your journey to solar!

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