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Question DetailsAsked on 10/9/2015

In the SF bay area, has anyone had a successful installation of solar panels on a spanish tile roof with no breaks?

House built in 1920's and replacement tiles are difficult to acquire

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2 Answers


Because of the risk of breakage from working and walking on your roof, properly the panels should be put up entirely by crane and manlift - increasing your installation cost maybe $1000+.

The right way to go through tile is to either remove a tile (assuming flat rather than half-barrel tiles) and replace it with a rubber boot around the fasteners, or to carefully diamond core an oversize hole in the tile, install a stand-up pedestal type mounting to the roof, install a rubber boot and urethane sealant around the penetration through the cored hole, then mount the panels on those standup pedestals, which should be a few as possible to hold the supporting framework for the panels.

The hole is oversize, and flexible rubber or urethane sealant used, to allow for expansion and contraction without cracking the tiles.

There are enough solar installations in your area that when you talk to the vendors about installation, if they do not sound competent and reasonable in explaining HOW they will avoid damage to the roof (both by workers and by wind movement of the panels) that will tell you to shy away.

One other method I have seen a couple of times - using a frame reaching from ridge to eaves, with penetrations just below the peak cap tiles, then mounting the bottom edge off supports that bolt to and come up from the ends of the rafters, so no mid-roof penetrations that can leak at all, and only a few ridge mounting bolts or pedestals.

The primary key is to not have ANY bolts or fittings contacting the tiles, and NOTHING bearing on the tiles - support should be from free-standing pedestals or mounting studs that hold the frame up off the tiles. This is also the best way to handle wood and stone roofs too.

BTW - with that old a roof, I would be looking NOW for replacements and stock up a half dozen to 10 tiles as a contingency against future repair needs - due to weather, loose ones sliding off, termite tenting workers, etc. Though there are companies like Titan Roof Systems that make pretty similar looking tiles for a lot of the early 1900's tiles.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD


BTW - on the old/recycled tiles - typically $1-2 each for flat, $2-3 for S-tiles, and $3-5 each for half-barrel ones, so personally if you find matching ones I would get 20 or so for protection. Not including any freight if being shipped to you, of course.

And pay attention to how to stack - do NOT vertical stack as they eventually crack bridging across each other, especially with half-round barrel tiles - ask vendor proper stacking method, though commonly they are boxed and stacked on end for most compact storage. I remember seeing one warehouse that had probably a million or more tiles stacked horizontally that had been sitting unused for a decade or more during an estate settlement and were then being sold at auction - a vast majority of the tiles were broken because they had been horizontal-stacked for display to the bidders and let sit months that way.

Ditto to transporting home - flat stacking and then driving NOT a good idea - spread out over seats and floor mats (and don't stop fast) or at least put sheets of box cardboard or bubble wrap between them for padding during stansport. NOT fort permanent storage - can stick to the tiles terrible over a long time.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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