We must all do our bit for the environment. And that includes seeking out green energy sources. Even in Scotland, solar power is very effective. But what kind of roof do you need for solar panels and is yours suitable?

Which way should solar panels face?

A pitched roof is the best candidate. While flat, or low pitched roofs can work, they won’t be nearly as effective, so are rarely recommended. A 30-40° slope is ideal and brackets can be used to ‘cheat’ your roof’s angle. Bear in mind, that the lower the pitch, the more frequently they must be cleaned, as they’ll gather dirt easily. 

The actual material of the roof matters little. It’s all about its strength, so some types may need a little extra re-enforcement. Standard asphalt is usually the most workable. But don’t be deterred if yours is non-standard. Most of the materials used in roofs across Scotland and the north of England will work with solar panels. 

Can you put solar panels on an old roof?

Yes. Plenty of older properties have them. But you do need to ensure it is able to withstand installation. If any remedial works are required, these should be completed ahead of solar panels being added. Otherwise, you’ll increase the initial problem and the cost to fix it will grow accordingly. Usually planning consent isn’t required. However, if you have a very old property that’s listed, or in a conservation area, you will need to check the specific rules. 

Solar panel suitability checker UK

Another issue with suitability is the direction your roof faces. Naturally, a south-facing position is the best. However, east and west can still be effective. If your roof is purely north facing, you may want to consider whether this is going to be worthwhile for you. Seek independent advice and ascertain if the cost of the outlay will balance with the potential saving. Velux windows, turrets and vents won’t preclude installation, yet the extra work required to fit around these may increase the cost somewhat. 

Should you still be unsure, you can use this solar panel checker to find out whether your own property is suitable for installation

Once installed, it’s important that your panels are well-maintained. Proper and regular cleaning is key in this. Hiring a professional to do it for you is safer (especially if the panels are situated at height), easier and won’t risk expensive damage.