Do Solar Panels Cool or Heat Your Roof?

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Solar panels don’t just power your AC on blisteringly hot summer days – they also take over some of the AC’s work themselves. This is according to a study from researchers at the University of California at San Diego, which says that rooftop solar panels not only produce emissions-free electricity, but also cool roofs and buildings to which they are attached. This lowers cooling costs, and offers an additional benefit of going solar.

Solar Panel Cooling: PV Systems Reduce Heating Costs in Cold Seasons

The idea is simple: when sunlight hits your house it warms your roof and pushes heat into your home. Installing solar panels will block this sunlight from hitting your roof, thereby preventing heat from entering your house. The researchers found that solar panels can lower a roof’s temperature by 5 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 3 degrees Celsius. This can significantly reduce cooling costs over the life of the solar panels. In fact, the researchers determined that the savings from reduced cooling amount to a 5 percent discount on the solar panels’ price.

Solar panels cool roof and cool usa home
Like this Alabama home, your solar roof as well as the house itself could benefit from efficient cooling generated by solar panels.

Do Solar Panels Generate Heat?

As explained briefly above, there is a common misconception that solar panels generate heat amidst converting sunlight into usable electricity. Instead, solar panels absorb heat that otherwise would have been passed onto your roof. The panels block the heat from being absorbed by your roof and eventually your home and actually prevent extra heat from being generated.

The researchers also discovered that solar panels prevent heat from escaping during the night when it is cooler. This lowers heating costs in the winter and increases the financial returns of the panels. However, the heating benefits of solar panels may not be as pronounced as the cooling benefits. The panels do, after all, reduce the natural heat of your home during the day.

Overall, the takeaway from this study is clear: solar doesn’t just save money by generating emissions-free electricity. Solar also saves money by increasing a building’s total energy efficiency. Admittedly, there are more efficient ways to reduce your heating and cooling costs, but only solar can increase energy efficiency and produce most or all of a building’s electricity needs. Add these benefits together, and going solar starts looking even brighter.

community solar

7 thoughts on “Do Solar Panels Cool or Heat Your Roof?

  1. Jason

    Phil,

    No clue what you are doing but you are doing it wrong…300$ bill means you have some horrible energy efficient water heater, stove, a/c ect. There is no way you should have 18 panels in Cali and still be 300$ a month. There are people who don’t have solar that don’t get their bill that high. What system did you go with, I assume you don’t have any battery backup if you still have an electric bill.

    Reply
    1. NIck

      I’m with Jason on this one Phil, you have a huge underlying issue that is driving your energy cost. I live in Phoenix in a 1900 sqft house and I don’t even hit $300.00/month. If I were you, i would purchase an energy data logger (emporia energy) and figure out what is consuming so much energy. You can probably also get a home audit from your power provider and they will give you recommendations.

      Reply
  2. Phil

    I don’t think this fully accurate. I had roof replaced with recommended white, new energy efficient windows and doors, had all walls properly insulated and 18 panels. My house is only 1410 Sq feet and my bill is still over $300 in summer in San Diego.

    Reply
    1. Chan

      I hv bought a new house which has all energy efficient windows and thermal reflective sheets on the wall etc in Orlando. This is 1500 sqft ranch house. My bill in summer comes to abt $125.

      You may think of attic radiant barrier to start with.

      Reply
  3. Chris

    What about the roof protection benefits of solar panels, like blocking UV and direct hail? Is there any study done regarding extended life of roof materials (asphalt, EPDM or TPO, coatings etc) having longer life due to panels having protected those damaging elements?

    Reply
    1. Chan

      I have not seen any study / report on this – but if you have 100% of roof covered by solar panel- then the roof material may slow down on aging due to radiation heat from sun and hail/rain related damages as they have a protection – like an umbrella for the house.

      But if the roof is not 100% covered then exposed areas may lead to uneven aging.

      Reply
  4. Pingback: Cool Roofing Options That Are Worth Your Money | Virginia Roof Repair - Roof.net

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