5 Factors to Consider For Installing Rooftop Solar Panels

People around the globe are shifting towards renewable sources of energy. Renewable power is an excellent move towards sustainable development, and solar panel installations are becoming a popular form of alternative energy. Solar panels rank alongside wind and hydropower as modern and reasonable energy options for the future of our planet.

What to Know about Solar Energy

Solar power comes from the sun’s light and is a clean, inexhaustible energy source. It is sustainable and unlimited in supply as a renewable resource, making it a better alternative to fossil fuels. 

There are many benefits to going solar, and if you live in Burbank, CA, or Los Angeles, CA, here are a few things to know.

How Do Rooftop Solar Panels Work?

Many California homeowners are perplexed at how rooftop solar panels work. These panels have interconnected photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight into electrical energy. Since the panel-generated electricity is DC, an inverter converts it to AC to power appliances in your home.   

What is the California Solar Mandate?

The California solar mandate refers to the building code requiring newly constructed homes to have solar panels installed as a power source. It went into effect in 2020 and covered both single- and multi-family homes up to three stories.

The installed solar PV system should be large enough to offset the residential building’s electricity use. But as it is difficult to estimate, the minimum system size will be based on climate zone, conditioned floor area, and the number of dwelling units. Adding battery storage can reduce the required system size.

Is it Cost-Effective to Go Solar?

Yes. Even though installing solar panels for rooftops incurs upfront costs, it eventually pays for itself through substantial cost savings throughout its lifespan. On average, the reduction in energy bills is higher than the equivalent increase in mortgage payments.   

Furthermore, generous incentives available in the Golden State make it one of the best states to go solar. Besides increasingly affordable PV prices and maintenance costs, local rebates and net metering programs benefit California homeowners. Net Metering allows consumers to earn credits for sending surplus energy generated by their solar panels back to the public grid for distribution.

How Long Does it Take to Install Solar Panels?

If you’re wondering how rooftop solar panels work, you’re probably also curious about how long it takes to install them. The installation time depends on local permitting, system size, property upgrades, and utility company interconnection.

It typically takes one to three days for a solar contractor to install the solar panels; longer for systems with more panels or complicated setups. However, said period excludes the time it takes to sign a contract with a qualified installer, pull the permits, and obtain approval from your utility company for grid access. Accounting for all of these, expect to have a fully functioning system within 45 days to three months.

If your roof is not yet solar-ready, use the waiting period to upgrade the structure. Given the right conditions, roofing replacements take less than a week to finish.

Is it Better to Lease or Buy Solar Panels?

It depends. Homeowners in Pasadena, CA, interested in installing rooftop solar panels are often surprised with the installation costs. The average price for a 5kW system in California is $14,000.

If the sticker shock hinders you from going solar, know that you can lease the system instead of purchasing it outright. Solar companies offer leasing arrangements so consumers can see if having solar panels is a good fit for their home, minus the significant initial investment.

If you purchase the panels, you technically own them and qualify for the federal tax credit. You can recoup as much as 26% of installation costs through tax credits, reducing your tax liabilities for the applicable years. This incentive is unavailable to those who lease their solar PV systems.  

Can I Install Solar Panels on My Own?
No. Even if you have a fair understanding of how rooftop solar panels work, installing them yourself is not recommended. The highly technical process requires extensive experience to make the system work, particularly over time. Furthermore, the process is hazardous given the presence of abundant electricity.

Is My Roof Suitable for Solar Installation?  

The answer depends on two factors—your roof’s capacity to bear additional weight and its location. Your roof must be sturdy enough to carry the extra weight from the solar array system. It’s best to consult a roofing contractor.

Bear in mind a solar energy system’s efficiency in power generation depends on the amount of sunlight. For roof-mounted systems to receive maximum sunshine, there must be no shaded areas. 

So, if you are thinking of installing solar panels on your current roof, there are a few things to consider:

  • Material
  • Pitch
  • Shape and size
  • Orientation
  • Shade

The good news is nearly all types of roofs are compatible with solar panels. The bad news is that most roofs were not installed with solar in mind. So, you will likely need to make adjustments.

Let’s take a quick look at each of these factors:


Most roofing materials are compatible with solar panel installation, and the roof is not harmed. Asphalt shingles or composite roofing go great with solar panels, and installation is simple. Metal roofing is also compatible with solar panels, and installation is easy and cheap.

That said, the above information does not refer to wood and slate roofs.

Pitch and Angle 

To get the most from solar panels, you need to point them in the direction that receives maximum sunlight. The panels must be tilted to receive optimum sunlight on average. 

Ideally, a fixed, roof-mounted solar energy system should be angled equal to the latitude of the location where it is installed. Pitch angles between 30 and 45 degrees work well in most situations.

Shape and Size 

Two other features impact your roof’s suitability for solar panels: shape and size. Ideally, the best shape and size for panels is a large, square roof.

Roof Orientation

Solar panels are effective when installed on south-facing roofs, though southwest- or southeast-facing panels can still be effective. You also have the option to ask the installation contractor to use a rack in order to adjust the orientation.


Trees, clouds, adjacent solar panels, other roofs, and nearby buildings are the most common sources of shade. There is a misconception that modern solar panels work even in poor light conditions. But it is not the case

Yes, solar panels do function on cloudy days or in shadow places, but their output capacity is compromised. The efficiency losses can be mitigated with shade-tolerant solar cells such as Uni-Solar.

Be Solar-Ready

Having a better understanding of how rooftop solar panels work allows you to verify whether your current roofing structure can handle the requirements. Let Roof Repair Specialist help you. From evaluation to knowing what to expect during installation, you can receive professional guidance throughout the process of making your roof solar-ready. 

Whether you’re in Burbank, Pasadena, Los Angeles, or Long Beach and interested in going solar, don’t hire any roofing contractor without checking their license first.