Why You Need a Structural Engineer When Installing Solar Panels

Why You Need a Structural Engineer When Installing Solar Panels

With everyone being a lot more environmentally conscious, many property owners are looking to help reduce their carbon footprint by installing solar panels on their roofs. Choosing this energy source can have a multitude of benefits such as reducing the cost of electricity. In fact, they can generate a significant amount of electricity even when the weather is overcast.

Solar panels really don’t need much to operate apart from natural light, but your home or building will need to meet certain safety requirements to ensure that it is suitable to have them installed.

This can be done by consulting with a professional, such as a structural engineer, who will be able to evaluate whether the roof will be able to withstand the weight. We have taken a look at some of the reasons why you will need a structural engineer when installing solar panels.

Roof Support

The roof will need to be strong enough to support the weight and the size of the solar panels. This will all depend on what type of roof you have and if it is flat or sloped. A structural engineer will be able to carefully examine the roof to see whether or not it will be able to withstand the weight of the solar panels as well as the mounting systems they will sit on. Solar panel installers may not have any knowledge about roofs and will not be able to confirm whether the roof is structurally sound or not. This is why it is essential that you seek the assistance of a structural engineer before you proceed.

However, despite knowing whether or not you have the right type of roof for solar panels, there are often solutions for all types of roofs where solar panels can be adapted on to them. Many solar installers will advise slightly differently about the best way to maximise energy generation if your roof is a little different.

Roof Material

Another reason you will require the assistance of a structural engineer is because they will need to determine the materials your roof is made of, as different materials will require different levels of care. If a roof is made up of slate tiles, then the installers will have to take extra care to try not to damage it.

It is important to also remember that different materials will have a different capacity when it comes to supporting the solar panels. Materials such as concrete tiles may be of high material weight, but they can usually support high loads as well as being considered to be more durable than other materials. A structural engineer will use a calculation for the weight of the solar panels to come up with the correct load capacity of the roof material.

Roof Age

Another consideration is also the age of the roof, and this is because solar panels typically have a lifespan of around 25 years, therefore, your roof will need to also have a lot of life left in it.  If your roof is nearing the end of its life, you may need to replace it beforehand or have it reinforced to ensure that it will last just as long as the solar panels.

As you can see, there are many considerations to think about before you go ahead and installing solar panels on your home, but you should seek the advice of a structural engineer before doing so. Here at Martin Perry Associates, we are experienced structural engineers in Cornwall and the surrounding area who will be able to assist you or answer any questions you may have. If you have any questions regarding the services we provide, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 01579 345777.

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