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Rooftop Mounted Solar PV Systems
Rooftops make the perfect home for Solar PV (photovoltaic) systems. Rather than using up valuable farm land that could possibly used for another purpose such as growing food, place the solar panels on a barren rooftop. In most cases, the majority of electrical power produced, is consumed within the same building, or those next door. This distributed production reduces the load on transmission lines, and produces the most power during the naturally occurring peak load interval.
Rooftop solar PV systems also provide shade which can reduce the need for air conditioning within a building and also prolongs the life span of the roof surface.
As a solar PV system will impact the structure to which it is mounted, it's important to follow local building code requirements. In order to obtain a building permit, most municipalities will require a structural engineer to certify the installation configuration.
Flat Rooftop Solar PV Systems
Flat rooftops can use a ballasted type of mounting system or an attached mounting system. Ballasted systems are most common where a rooftop will hold the additional weight presented by the solar system (mounting, panels, ballast, wind, snow). The amount of ballast (often cement patio blocks) added to the mounting system, is determined by the surface area of the solar modules, roof area covered by the mounts, peak wind speed, etc. Attached mounting systems will either penetrate the rooftop and attached to the weight bearing structure, or may be suspended between the outside walls (to which they are attached). For traditional solar panels (mono or poly) the mounting system allows for an optimal fixed angle. A few of these mounting systems also allow the angle to be changed throughout the year, to increase electrical production.
Where a large surface is available, or when additional weight is an issue, thin film solar PV modules may be used. Flat mounting systems for thin film modules tend to provide a very shallow angle towards the sun - mostly straight up. Thin film mounting systems are often very light to ensure minimal weight impacts.
Angled Rooftop Solar PV Systems
When considering a Solar PV installation for an angled rooftop, the orientation towards the sun is important.