This article is about how you can install a solar panel system on your house, RV, or boat.

There are a lot of considerations to take during the installation process and it’s important that you do it right the first time. If not, then there could be problems with power output and efficiency down the line.

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the process of deciding what type of roof surface will work best for homeowners wanting to create solar energy, as well as how to attach solar panels to roofs and a variety of different surfaces!

How to attach solar panel to roof

Replace roof with solar panels 

It is possible to replace your roof with solar panel tiles or solar shingles, though they are relatively new in the solar world. The solar panels can replace particular tiles on your roof, or they can completely replace your existing roof.

They are designed to blend in with the original roofing material, and you won’t have to worry about them being an eyesore. Best of all, these solar panels will help lower your monthly electricity bill!

These solar roof tiles generate power in the same way as a normal solar system, as they are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells. Solar panel tiles are specially designed to be power efficient and durable, and will significantly reduce your electricity bill.

Installing solar panels on different roof types

Solar panels can be installed on a variety of different roof types, and the process for installing them is relatively straightforward.

The first thing you need to do is assess your roof type so that you’re able to choose solar panel options accordingly.

Generally speaking, there are three main types of roofs: metal roofs, clay tile roofs, and flat roofs, though asphalt shingles are particularly popular.

Can solar panels be installed on a metal roof?

You might be wondering if a solar installation is possible on metal roofing (link to my article). The answer is yes!

Photo of a metal roof for solar panel

Metal roofing is very durable and often comes with an insulation coating that reflects heat, which means your energy levels will stay higher for longer periods of time. This also means better efficiency for the solar panels.

Mounting solar cells on a standing seam metal roof yourself can be challenging, however with a metal roof structure, it can be accomplished with relative ease. Standing seam metal roofs will need clamps to mount the system to the metal roof without penetrating it. However, if you have a Trapezoidal or corrugated metal roof, direct attachment to the roof is required.

If you don’t want to worry about your solar panel system being damaged by hail or other natural disasters, then installing them on metal roofs is a great option!

Installing solar panels on clay tile roof

Solar installation on clay tile roofs is often more difficult but is still achievable at a more expensive rate. This is due to the clay being relatively brittle, so damage to your tile roof is almost inevitable.

Photo of clay tile roof

Original clay tiles can be removed and solar panels can then be fitted in these gaps using a composite shingle, which will be filled in using the same type of clay tile already on your roof. This will not affect the quality of the solar power energy that is produced.

However, removing parts of a tile roof can still cause issues for your home. It is recommended that base plates are used instead, along with hooks and rails to attach the solar panels to the roof. This way, only a few clay tiles will need to be removed.

Installing solar panels on a flat roof

A flat roof is one of the easiest to mount solar panels onto, including residential flat roofs. Take into consideration that the roof may not have been designed with these panels in mind, and could require some structural reinforcement before installation.

These PV panels should be self-cleaning for rainy weather and for any debris that may collect on top, which would not be an issue for a standard sloping roof. Though thin-film cells or automatic panels may be a better option for flat roof installations.

Solar panels installed on a flat roof also need to be extra sturdy for cases of high wind.

This type of installation is best with a roof that has no obstructions for solar radiation. The panels should be positioned accurately so they are not facing any nearby buildings in order to maximize the amount of sunlight absorbed, and their orientation will need to adjust as seasons change.

Step-by-step on how to install solar panels on your roof

Homeowners preparing to install your solar cells themselves should know it is important to have your solar panel kit, (link to watts article) and all the tools required ready and prepared to begin the process.

When installing solar panels, be aware that it may be a good idea to also install a bird and critter guard at the same time.

Step 1: Calculate The Area Of Your Roof

The first step of how to mount solar panels is in calculating the area of your roof. This will determine how many panels you’ll be able to install and what size they should be. You can also take into account your requirements, do you just need enough panels to power a fridge, or are you running a whole house?

Step 2: Safety First!

It’s important to wear safety gear and use scaffolding when working on your roof. Scaffolding provides solid support for the entire installation process, ensuring that you can work with ease while always being sure of your footing!

photo of someone holding a safety hat

Step 3: Find the right location and angle

The angle and location of your solar panels can have a significant impact on the efficiency of your system. Installers should find the best possible position, direction, and angle to maximize their effectiveness.

Step 4: Install The Mounts And Secure A Platform

You’ll want to create a platform as close to the sun’s path throughout the day as possible, so it will be easier for your solar panels to generate power!

When installing the mounts for your panels you need to ensure they are stable and secure enough to support your whole system.

Step 5: Attach The Solar Panels

The next step is to install the individual panels onto the mounts and attach them to the platform.

Here, you will need all the tools including clamps, brackets, and various other materials that will allow you to secure the PV panels to the mounts appropriately.

Step 6: Complete Wiring And Connection

The next step is to wire the panels and make sure that they are connected correctly.

The last thing you need to do before finishing the installation of your solar panels is attached all wires from the PV panels, inverters, charge controllers, and batteries in order for them to be connected properly.

Step 7: Test Your System

The installation process is now complete, you will need to turn on and test your new PV system and start to enjoy the great environmental benefits of solar energy.

photo of a man testing the solar panel set up

Mounting solar panels on RV

An RV is a good option for solar panels if you are able to ensure it can receive enough energy from the sun to run the RV. Therefore it is important to consider which solar system you will need, we recommend the 2000-watt solar panel kit!

Solar cell installation for an RV is done in a similar fashion as installing them on any other type of building.

photo of an RV with solar panels

The great thing about installing solar panels on an RV is that you can choose between installing them permanently across the roof of your vehicle or mounting them for quick removal.

When converting a van to solar power, typically installers should create a wiring diagram of the panels to be done before any flooring or insulation. Doing this will easily allow you to get all your wires connected without having to remove anything that is already installed.

Mounting solar panels on a sailboat

The first step to mounting solar panels on a sailboat or any boat is measuring the space you have available, and knowing where you would like them to be installed.

There are a number of different mounting options available for boats:

  1. A fixed mount is better suited to those who will not be moving the boat and typically requires more space because it sticks out from the roof by about five feet.
  2. A tilting or pivoting mount or adjuster can allow the panels to tilt with the sun’s movement throughout the day. These mounts are usually mounted on a pole and can require more space than other boat mounting options.
photo of a sail boat with solar panel

Some of the best spaces to install solar panel systems on a sailboat include:

• On the arch or gantry aft

• The deck

• Lifelines along with the cockpit

• Or the cockpit dodger where flexible or semi-flexible panels would be recommended.

Should I install solar panels now or wait?

There is no better time than now to install solar panels on your home, RV, or boat.

According to Statista, in 2020, the annual solar system installations across the U.S. residential sector stand at 3,100 megawatts which has been rising since 2005.

The solar panel sector has seen an increase in popularity with 46% of Americans seriously considering installing solar panels in their home in 2019.