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Title: Empirically Derived Strength of Residential Roof Structures for Solar Installations.

Engineering certification for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules on wood roofs is often denied because existing wood roofs do not meet structural design codes. This work is intended to show that many roofs are actually sufficiently strong given the conservatism in codes, documented allowable strengths, roof structure system effects, and beam composite action produced by joist-sheathing interaction. This report provides results from a testing program to provide actual load carrying capacity of residential rooftops. The results reveal that the actual load carrying capacity of structural members and systems tested are significantly stronger than allowable loads provided by the International Residential Code (IRC 2009) and the national structural code found in Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures (ASCE 7-10). Engineering analysis of residential rooftops typically ignores the system affects and beam composite action in determining rooftop stresses given a potential PV installation. This extreme conservatism combined with conservatism in codes and published allowable stress values for roof building materials (NDS 2012) lead to the perception that well built homes may not have adequate load bearing capacity to enable a rooftop PV installation. However, based on the test results presented in this report of residential rooftop structural systems,more » the actual load bearing capacity is several times higher than published values (NDS 2012).« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Sandia National Laboratories (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Program (EE-2A)
Country of Publication:
United States