Installing solar panels can provide high-quality renewable energy for many years to come. Whether you’re doing it to reduce your environmental impact or you’re trying to save money, there’s no denying the usefulness of solar panels. However, many potential consumers are worried because they don’t have a flat space for the installation.
You can install solar panels on a curved roof if you choose flexible panels. You can also install a flat rack. Flexible panels form to the shape of the surface they’re on. You can use them on RVs, houses, and more. Building a flat rack allows you to mount panels without worrying about the curvature.
Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following info about installing solar panels on curved roofs:
- Different types of panels that you can use on your roof
- Step-by-step instructions for each kind of solar panel
- Avoidable mistakes and misconceptions about the installation process
Which Solar Panels Can Fit on a Curved Roof?
If you’re trying to mount solar panels on your curved roof, then it’s essential that you know which ones will work and which won’t. Trying to mount a flat panel on a curved surface is very difficult. IPSUN Solar has an excellent example of how you can get it done, but it’s challenging to do that sort of installation without professional assistance.
Here are the two methods that you could try:
- Use flexible solar panels. If you don’t need too much power, you could try the Renogy 175W 12V Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel. These panels form to your roof’s shape, so you don’t have to worry about building brackets or massive roof systems. Note that they don’t provide as much energy as traditional panels, but they’re worth it if you need to charge power tools, tech devices, and other low-energy gadgets.
- Create a structure to mount flat solar panels. You’ll have to build it high enough to be a couple of inches taller than the highest point on your roof. Using metal brackets and bars is an excellent choice. This formation allows you to use any solar panels that you’d like to.
I know that the cost is something many people worry about when it comes to solar energy. According to Energy Sage, the average household saves over $1,400 per year on their electricity bills from switching to solar. It’ll take a few years, but you’ll profit quite a bit. The sooner you change to renewable energy, the better off you’ll be.
Now that you know the two best ways to DIY install solar panels on a curved roof, it’s time to learn the details of the process. Proceed to the next section to figure out how you can put solar panels on almost any roof, regardless of the curvature.
How to Install the Panels
Let’s break down the installation details into two sets; One for flexible panels and one for building a structure. You can use both guides as reference points.
Installing Flexible Solar Panels on a Curved Roof
- Measure the dimensions of the panels, then do the same for your roof. You should leave about eight inches on all sides for wiring, mounting tape, and drainage.
- Place the flexible solar panels on the roof, ensuring they’re pressed flat against the surface. Most flexible panels come with adhesive that holds that to the roof, but you might have to get mounting brackets if they don’t.
- Once the panels are mounted to the roof, use mounting tape to secure the sides and prevent moisture from getting underneath the panels. I recommend EternaBond Sealant Tape, but there are plenty of options. Make sure that the tape is at least four inches wide to secure the panels. Leave a small gap to allow water to drain.
If you prefer a video format, review this helpful guide from Boss Watt on YouTube:
How to Build a Raised Structure for Solar Energy
- Use 5-foot to 10-foot lengths of Genuine Unistrut to line the areas where your panels will be. Unistrut is designed to withstand the elements, so it’s a perfect solution for mounting solar panels on a curved roof. If your roof is too steep, consider creating a raised wooden structure with pre-treated Maplewood 2 x 4’s to even it out with the peak of the roof.
- Install mounting brackets, such as the Genuine Unistrut Mounting Posts. They’ll fit on both ends of the Unistrut bars, but you might have to add a few brackets between each bar for extra support.
- Add caulking along the edges of every screw, bar, and bracket that comes in contact with the roof. It’ll prevent leaks, rust, corrosion, squeaks, and many other issues.
- Place the flat panels on the bars using Z-brackets (or your preferred solar panel mounting bracket. Z-brackets are designed to hold a solar panel to another flat surface, such as a roof, wooden posts, or Unistrut bars. Secure the brackets to the panels and the bars, then add screw glue to prevent rust.
Here’s a quick video tutorial to give you a visual representation of the process:
Installing solar panels is relatively easy if you have all of the supplies. Even if you have a curved roof, you should be able to get the job done in about five to ten hours.
Note: If you have a massive roof and you want to tie it into your house’s electricity grid, I highly recommend that you ditch the DIY route and hire an expert. You don’t want to risk electrical injuries or damage to your roof during the installation.
Here’s a list of several common mistakes that people run into along the way:
- Never forget to seal the panels. Many people think they’re done when the screws go into the roof, but you need to use caulking and screw glue. Failure to do so will result in rust, leaks, cracks, discoloration, stripped screws, and more.
- Leave extra room on the roof. You don’t want the panels to go end to end, especially when you’re using flexible solar panels. There needs to be enough space for water to drain and wires to run through.
- Position the panels to match the sun. The sun rises in the east, so make sure the panels have enough exposure from sunrise to sunset. You’ll get much more energy, and you won’t have to worry about wasting time and money.
- You have to clean the roof before you install the solar panels. A dirty surface causes most adhesives to loosen, preventing them from getting secured. Use a blower and spray down the roof with a hose, then dry it off and choose your installation method.
The #1 tip I could give you is to take it slow. It’s easy to make a mistake if you rush the process. Be safe, wear a hardhat and gloves, and ask a friend for a helping hand.
Just because your roof is curved doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the numerous solar energy benefits. Whether you’re driving an RV or looking for low-cost electricity for your workshop, there are countless reasons that you should try solar power.
Here’s a quick recap of what this post should’ve taught you:
- You can choose to install flexible panels or create a flat rack to mount them on your roof.
- Make sure you attach brackets to the panels and the roof with screw glue.
- Clean the panels regularly to prevent corrosion and displacement.
- Never drill into a fragile, brittle roof.
- Position the panels to match the sun’s patterns.