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  • Melissa Deaver

Choosing the Best Roofing Material for Solar

Solar has come a long ways in regards to roofing material and can be installed on nearly any surface. If you are getting your roof replaced or looking to gain some insight as to the pros and cons of each roof material, you've come to the right place.

While you don't need to replace your roof to go solar, if you are seriously considering solar, it's important to take some time to evaluate your current roof's condition. As solar arrays last anywhere from 30-40 years, you want to assess how much life your current roof has left. If you will need to replace it soon, it's best to just replace the roof before installing the solar array. This will avoid costly take down and replacement of the panels when the time comes. As a general rule of thumb, if you are 5-10 years away from needing replacement, it's best to replace it when you go solar.


Many roof materials work with solar panels, but what you choose will depend upon your home. How much do you want to spend on roofing, where do you live and what aesthetic to you prefer? These are important considerations when choosing a roof material that is right for you and your solar array.

Typically the best materials for solar include asphalt, metal, tile, tar and gravel.


These are by far the most common roofing material. They are affordable, durable and flexible. Asphalt roofs tend to last 12-30 years, depending on the quality of the shingles and the weather conditions in your location. Higher-quality shingles are best for solar, because you don't want your panels to outlast your roof. While this style of roofing does require penetration to mount a solar array, leakage is never an issue if installed correctly. Any holes made are properly sealed and covered with flashing.


Metal roofs are choice material for a solar installation. These tend to last 40-75+ years, ensuring your roof will outlast your solar array. They are non-flammable and energy efficient. If you choose a light-colored material for your metal roof, it will reflect light and keep your home cooler. They are more expensive than asphalt, and the upfront cost could be a deterrent, depending on your budget. If you choose a standing seam style roof, no penetration is required, as the racking can be clipped to the metal panels.


Tile roofs are common in locations with hot climates or close to the ocean due to durability. These can last over a century, so you can feel confident that this style will outlast your solar array. They are more expensive than asphalt but less expensive than metal. Installation of a solar array on tile roofing will be more expensive than the two aforementioned options, as tiles will likely need to be removed and replaced throughout the process. Be sure to find an installer who is comfortable working with this material if you choose to go tile.

Tar and Gravel

These style of roofs work well with solar and last 20-30 years. These are easy to repair if there is ever any issue. If this is your material of choice, it's likely you have a flat roof, so extra racking will be needed to pitch your panels at an appropriate angle to catch the sun. This may cost more up front, but it also allows you to position the panels exactly right to catch the most rays, which may save you more in the long run.

If you have any questions on your current roof material or how it will work with solar, reach out to MidIowa Power or a trusted roofer to get an assessment.

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