The best roofing materials for residential solar panels are standing seam metal roofing and PVC membrane. Metal panels are the top choice for home solar panel installations on sloped roofs, while PVC membrane is preferred for low-slope and flat roofs.
However, asphalt shingles are, by far, the most common steep-sloped roofing system for home solar panel installations in the US, as approximately 80% of residential roofs are covered with composition shingles.
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For flat and low-slope residential roofs, EPDM rubber is one of the most prevalent roofing systems, while Tar-and-Gravel and BUR roofs are more commonly found on commercial roofs. That said, Tar-and-Gravel and BUR roofs can be a viable option for solar deployments on flat roofs, while the situation with an EPDM rubber membrane is a bit more nuanced.
Note: Although, a quality EPDM rubber roof can be a viable option for installing solar panels on a flat roof, it’s highly likely that a rubber roof will require some repairs or even a complete replacement some 10-15 years down the road, while most high-end PV solar panels are designed to continue generating electricity for 25 years. Therefore, going with an EPDM rubber roof for solar installations can be a risky bet, which is why we recommend a quality PVC membrane, instead, because it can last twice as long as EPDM rubber.
In the next section below, we explore top residential roofing materials and explain their suitability for home solar panel installations.