How Much Do Solar Panels Weigh?

If you’re thinking of getting solar panels, then it’s important to consider weight.

The average solar panel array, which includes panels and mounting equipment, weighs around two to four pounds per square foot. A standard-sized solar panel weighs around 40 lbs. 

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about how much solar panels weigh and whether your roof can support solar panels.

Solar Panels Weigh 2 to 4lbs Per Square Foot

Solar panel weights vary by manufacturer, mounting system, and other factors. 

Generally, however, an average solar panel, including mounting equipment and the panels themselves, weighs around two to four pounds per square foot.

A standard solar panel weighs around 40 lbs and produces 365 watts. To build a 10 kW system, you need to mount 28 solar panels to your roof. Your array would weigh around 1,120 lbs. There would also be extra weight for the mounting system and other components.  

Most homes use a 5 kW to 15 kW solar panel system, or a 5,000-watt to 15,000-watt solar panel system. Here’s how much the average solar panel array weighs based on total wattage:

5 kW System (Small Home): Adds 600 to 700lbs to your roof

10 kW System (Medium Home): Adds 1,200 to 1,400lbs to your roof

15 kW System (Large Home): Adds 1,800 to 2,000lbs to your roof

Although these numbers may seem large, their average weight is around two to four pounds per square foot. Because the system is spread across a small, medium, or large roof, your roof should have no trouble holding solar panels.  

The vast majority of roofs have no problem holding solar panels. The weight of the solar panels will not impact the structural integrity of your roof. Roofs are designed to carry much heavier loads. Unless you have a very old and unstable roof, your roof should have no trouble holding solar panels.

Average Solar Panel Dimensions

The average dimensions of a solar panel are around 5.4’ long by 3.25’ wide. A standard solar panel has 60 solar cells and weighs around 40 lbs.

Commercial solar panels tend to weigh more. The average commercial solar panel weighs around 50 lbs and is 6.5’ long and 3.5’ feet wide. Most commercial solar panels have between 72 and 98 solar cells – compared to a standard residential solar panel with 60 cells. 

Average Residential Panel: 65” (long) x 39” (wide) x 2” (deep) with 60 solar cells

Average Commercial Panel: 78” (long) x 39” (wide) x 2” (deep) with 72 solar cells  

Why Do Solar Panels Weigh So Much?

Solar panels are relatively light. However, the entire solar panel array includes aluminum framing and other parts, and these parts tend to be heavy.

Each solar panel consists of around 60 solar cells. These cells don’t weigh much. They’re small cells that convert solar energy into electricity.

However, the solar cells are surrounded by aluminum framing to hold them in place. The solar cells are also protected by tempered glass. All of these components tend to weigh more.

Tempered glass is heavier than normal glass. It’s also more durable. Solar panels need heavy-duty tempered glass to withstand the environment. Because of this tempered glass, your solar panels won’t get destroyed by a hailstone or similar extreme weather.

Overall, solar panels are heavy because your solar panel array includes all of the following:

  • Tempered glass to protect the panels
  • Aluminum frame to hold the cells together
  • Encapsulation foil
  • Stringed solar cells
  • Junction box
  • Back sheet

Solar panel arrays also need an inverter. Typically, the inverter is found on the side of your home, which means it doesn’t add to the weight of the solar panel away. 

Most Roofs Have No Problem Supporting Solar Panels

You may be concerned about the weight of solar panels on your roof. However, most roofs have no problem supporting solar panels.

If your roof is in good condition, then it should be able to hold a solar array without issue.

A standard roof in the United States is built to withstand around 20 pounds of snow per square foot. In comparison, solar panels and their mounting systems weigh around two to four pounds per square foot. Unless your roof has structural integrity issues, your roof should have little issue holding the weight of your solar panels.

Some roofs are even stronger. A modern roof with concrete or clay tiles, for example, will support 27 lbs per square foot. 

Even if it snows on your solar panels, it’s unlikely to affect the structural integrity of your roof. It’s rare for snowfall to exceed 20 lbs of snow per square foot. Even if you have solar panels and a heavy snow load on your roof, you’re unlikely to experience structural issues. 

If unsure whether your roof can handle the weight of solar panels, contact the professionals or request an inspection by a structural engineer. 

Types of Solar Panels

There are different types of solar panels. Depending on your type, your solar panel may have different weights and dimensions.

Common solar panel types include:

Monocrystalline: Monocrystalline solar panels feature cells cut from a single, pure crystal of silicon. They’re highly efficient and aesthetically pleasing, but they’re also more expensive. The average monocrystalline solar panel weighs around 45 lbs. 

Polycrystalline: Polycrystalline solar panels feature cells made from smaller, silicon crystal fragments. Manufacturers melt these fragments together in a mold, then cut them into sheets of wafers to create the panel. They’re affordable, but they’re less efficient and powerful than monocrystalline panels. The average polycrystalline solar panel weighs around 49 lbs. 

Thin Film: Thin film solar panels, also known as photovoltaic panels, are portable, flexible, lightweight, and aesthetically pleasing. They have worse performance than monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. However, they’re the most popular type of residential solar panels in the United States. On average, thin film panels weigh around 40 lbs per panel, although there are slight variations between manufacturers. 

Solar Panel Weight by Brand

Your solar panels may weigh more or less depending on which brand you buy. Some solar panel companies make heavier-than-average solar panels, while others make lighter-than-average panels.

Here are some estimated weights for today’s top solar panel manufacturers, including their lighter (residential) panels and heavier (commercial) panels:

LG Solar: 39 to 45 lbs

SolarWorld: 40 to 47 lbs

Canadian Solar: 40 to 51 lbs

SunPower: 33 to 41 lbs

Hanwha Q Cells: 41 lbs

Renewsys: 39 lbs

AXITEC Solar: 41 to 52 lbs

Kyocera: 42 to 44 lbs

Enersol: 39 lbs

Consider Solar Shingles if Worried About Roof Weight

Most roofs have no problem withstanding the weight of solar panels. However, you may want to consider solar shingles if you are concerned about the weight of solar panels on your roof.

Solar shingles perform a dual function: they protect your home from the elements (like shingles) while also producing electricity from sunlight (like solar panels). They’re much heavier than traditional shingles, and they add similar weight to your roof compared to solar panel arrays. 

Solar shingles may be the best option if you:

  • Are already re-shingling your roof
  • Can integrate with conventional asphalt roof shingles
  • Provide similar performance to solar panels at a reasonable cost
  • May look better than solar panels, depending on the design of your roof
  • May be a better option for sloped roofs 

A few years ago, solar shingles were much more expensive than solar panels. Today, they’re similar in price. Plus, ordinary roofers can install solar shingles (although you’ll need an electrician to set up the inverter box). 

Final Word

Solar panels weigh around 40 lbs apiece. An entire solar panel array, including mounting equipment and other systems, may weigh around two to four pounds per square foot.

The weight of your solar panels should not impact the structural integrity of your roof. A standard roof withstands 20 to 30 lbs of weight per square foot. Because solar panels weigh just two to four pounds per square foot, they have little impact on your roof, and most roofs have no trouble supporting solar panels.

Shop around with solar panel companies near you or contact a solar panel company to determine if your roof can support solar panels.

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