The Southwest roofs are of Spanish tiles that typically resemble rows of lapping waves with troughs between the rows to transport water away. They are particularly fit for areas where rain is rare but quite heavy when it does fall. This style is available in clay, terra cotta, and concrete tiles. In general, installing a solar PV system on a clay tile roof is considerably more expensive than installing one on a concrete tile roof.

Material Inspection is a Critical Part of Solar Installation

Many homeowners with Spanish tile roofs assume the tiles are of clay, but actually, they are concrete.


There is a significant reason why we must correctly analyze roof material before receiving bids from solar providers. For example, suppose an installation business assumes a project has a clay tile roof but is later found to be concrete. In that case, the quotations will be artificially too expensive (representing a needless, costly “comp-out”), essentially pricing the installer out of the bid.

How to Check the Tile Material on The Roof?

Here are a few pointers to help you determine if your tiled roof is composed of clay or concrete.


If the house is very new (and has a relatively new main service panel), the customer must be having a concrete tile roof rather than a clay roof. Due to the increased expense of the material, builders are unlikely to put clay tile roofs on new residences.


Clay tile roofs are also considerably more common in older homes than in contemporary homes. Contemporary concrete tile looks virtually as good as clay tile, so it makes little sense to pay more money for something that appears somewhat better. This is precisely why people rarely use clay tile in the construction of new, costly residences. In addition, concrete Spanish tile roofs, on average, appear more uniform than clay roofs.

solar Spanish tile roof

Roofers do, however, occasionally employ a fiberglass composite that resembles clay. Unfortunately, consumers with fiberglass composite roofs who wish to go solar will require a workaround, like a clay tile roof or a delicate (thin) tile roof.

You Can Also Use Maps on Your Phone to Assess The Material

You may use Google Maps to look for roof tiles. If every property in the area has the same type of tile, the tile is most definitely concrete, not clay.


Check to see if there are any solar-powered homes in the area. Then enlarge the image. If the PV system is placed high-profile, utilizing tile mounting (i.e., the system is mounted on top of the tile) rather than comp-out (low profile, with tiles backfilled partially beneath the edge of the array), the roof is tile, not clay.


Finally, if the area is made primarily of tract homes, the roof is probably concrete rather than clay. In modern days, no tract house developer would utilize clay tile.

Going Solar With Spanish Tiles!

For concrete tiles, a reputable solar installation will remove only a few tiles where you must place certain hooks into your roof joists. They will next connect these specific hooks to foundation plates installed on your roof membrane.


Until recently, putting solar on clay-tiled roofs was a more expensive and dangerous effort than installing solar on other roof types, such as composite shingle or metal. This is because tiles are very costly and delicate. So, removing them to install roof mounts for solar panels might expose your roof’s seal to water damage.


If you have a clay tile roof, you should not allow these obstacles to deter you from adopting solar.


For more information on the cost of installation, contact New Mexico Water & Electric today!

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