Is your roof construction suitable for solar panels?

Solar thermal systems – producing hot water and/or central heating support need panels and these panels are usually fixed to a roof. In the United Kingdom we have literally hundreds of roofing materials and types as well as roof designs and locations so a manufacturer like Genersys designs roof fixings which we hope will cover every type of roof. What follows below are details of the options that you as a consumer will have.

 Bear in mind that there are two ways that the panel can be fitted on a sloping roof – “on roof” which places the panel parallel to the roof – and “in roof” which builds the panel into the roof.

 “On roof” systems are less expensive but “in roof systems look nicer and neater and generally perform slightly better because there is no heat loss by wind passing under the panel.

 Whatever the roof fit we have taken great care with the design of the fittings so that the integrity and performance of the roof will not be affected.

 Roof Loads

 

Each Genersys panel weighs around 35 kilos and when the panel is operation the weight increases to around 38 kilos. An average system in the UK usually has two panels and with the roof frame of whatever kind is used the roof load is less than 80 kilos.

The roof frame is fixed to the roof timbers by four fixing points for a two panel system and six fixing points for a three panel system. I am not a structural engineer by it will be seen that the load that the roof has to bear is very small – 80 kilos spread out over four fixings or 120 kilos spread out over six.

Generally speaking, if the roof is strong enough to walk on, it will easily handle a Genersys solar thermal system.

 

If you option to have the system fitted “in roof” so that the overall effect is like a flat glass roof window the weight of the tiles removed will often be more than the weight to the solar panels fitted.

 

Standard Tiles

 

I know that there is no such thing as a standard roof tile but here I mean the flat rectangular tiles which can be made from clay or cement. The panel frame can be connected to the supporting roof timbers and usually for an on roof fit this needs no more than lifting the tile, fitting the roof hook or roof fitting, adjusting it for length and putting back the tile. This happens four times which creates the anchor points for the solar panel frame.

 

For in roof systems the tiles are simply removed the frame fitted leaving a gap above the timbers (so that the metal frame will not cause condensation on the timber frames). The panels are placed in the frame and flashings seal around the frame.

 

Pan tiles

 

In some parts of the country Pan Tiles provide a beautiful flowing roof. One tile is fitted concavely with its partner fitted convexly. I have seen these in Suffolk, Lincolnshire and in Sussex and Kent and I am sure that they exist in other places. I have also seen them in Mexico City.

 

For Pan Tiles, whether in roof or on roof, we have a fitting that enables a simple fit, taking account of the design of the tiles.

Slate roofs

 

Slates provide a superb natural roofing material which can last for hundreds of years. They are usually pinned to roof timbers and we do not recommend moving slates for on roof systems. For these we have designed a roof fitting which can be screwed down through the slates into the supporting timber. The fitting is self weather sealing.

 

We had to design the fitting especially for the United Kingdom’s slate roofs, but having done this, we found that fro some countries which have different roof constructions the slate fitting is the best option.

 

Slates are very thin compared to tiles so we have had to design an “in roof” slate fitting system. This will mean removing slates and replacing the area of slates removed with solar panels. The Genersys installer will always do their best to remove the slates without damaging them (this may not be possible if the slates have been glued to the roof instead of being pinned) so that you can recycle them or use them as spares for damaged slates.

Zinc and Metal Roofs

These have special fixings so that the roof is not damaged and the fixings meet the approval of all major metal roof manufacturers so that your roof guarantee will not be affected.

Thatched roofs

 

I am not aware of any solution for thatched roofs, but people who live in thatched homes can mount “A” frames in a discrete part of the garden so that the panels do not have to be roof mounted at all. Your Genersys installer will advise of whether this will work in the case of your own thatched home.

 Flat roofs

 

Flat roofs can be ideal for solar because it will usually be possible to position the panels perfectly so that they face due south at the best angle to optimise the collection of energy from light.

For flat roofs we provide “A” frames or “racks” into which the panels sit. In areas of high or persistent wind the installer will check the wind load stresses and will have to ensure that the roof is strong enough because the racks or A frames will have to be weighed down to be able to cope with any high winds.

We have worked hard to make sure that we have a range of fitting that can fit our solar panels to your roof, safely and properly where ever your roof is and almost whatever it is made of so that you can enjoy the benefits of pollution and no free heat energy and so those who follow you will have a safer environment that I hope will not be too different from the environment that we grew up in and enjoyed.

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