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Understanding Your Roof and Installing Solar

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Roof for Solar

There are a number of different roof types, and with each roof type, there is a different racking application that will help maximize your energy potential. Identifying your roof type begins by first working with the materials used on your roof. Composition shingle roofs will require different attachment points than tile or metal roofs. Composition roofs will typically use flashings, whereas tile roofs will use hooks, and metal roofs will require clamps. Racking components are often cross compatible, meaning that IronRidge rails will work with clamps from S-5!. Selecting the right attachment point is essential in ensuring that your roof mount system will be strong, and meet your cities requirements for structural stability.

Flat roofs have two different applications to gain the desired tilt, tilt legs and ballasted roof mounts. Tilt legs can work with all attachment points, however careful planning and cross compatibility need to be planned and approved prior to installation. The benefit of tilt legs for residential systems is that they are less costly than a ballast system and carry less weight. Ballast systems are typically used in commercial applications where large concrete roofs can handle the load put onto them. Ballast trays require concrete weights to hold the system in place rather than drilled attachment points. Permitting for both residential and commercial systems will require a load analysis to be conducted as the additional weight may not work for the majority of installations.

Composition Shingle Roof

*Composition Shingle Roof

Flashings will always require drilling to be made on your roof which makes many homeowners uneasy. However, racking manufacturers specifically design their flashings to divert water way from the attachment points. New technologies such as IronRidge’s Flashfoot 2 have built in features that move water way from the attachment points as well as feature a water tight seal on the top of the attachment points. Tile roofs have a couple of different options including shaving the tile or cutting the tile to add in the attachment points. The process is a bit more time consuming than the installation process in a composition shingle roof because of this. Metal roofs have a variety of shapes and sizes so matching the roof type to the correct clamp is key in determining which clamp you should use with your system. You can determine the number of clamps you will need by the number of attachment points that is required for your system

Tile Roof

*Tile Roof

Finally, roofs with multiple planes and levels may need to split the system up into small sections to install the number of panels needed for the system to produce the energy required. This will largely change the size of the rails that you need, but will also give homeowners the option of dispersing weight and laybacks as required by your city for permitting. Even roofs that are not perfectly south facing can be utilized and enhanced when combined with optimizers and microinverters.

Metal Roof

*Metal Roof

There are a number of different roof types, however with the right combination of attachment points and rails, home and business owners can find the right racking components for them. With a little bit of planning and communication with racking manufacturers, you can put together a racking system that is perfect for your roof and will enhance your entire system’s performance.


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