How to get Solar Collectors onto the Roof

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Solar collectors are big, heavy pieces of equipment which are both very tough and very fragile at the same time. They weigh 85-140 pounds per collector (38-64 kilos) and are usually shipped on a pallet carried by a big rig truck.

So how are you going to get them safely onto the roof of your house? Carefully, that's how!

Basic rules

  • Safety first!
  • Take your time and don't rush.
  • Don't try to lift the collectors to the roof when it's windy.
  • Keep bystanders away – as far away as possible.
  • Keep children even further away, especially very young kids.
  • If possible, use scaffolding, roof jacks and planks for roof work.
  • Wear shoes or boots with grip: sneakers, running shoes, or rubber-soled footwear.
  • The steeper the roof, the higher the risk.
  • Avoid walking on the same area if possible (it'll damage the roof).
  • Lay down planks or plywood to prevent roof wear.
  • Don't walk on the roof ridge.
  • Always use safety ropes, a safety harness (approved for fall protection) and work gloves.
  • Make sure the ropes are anchored to something capable of taking your weight!
  • Follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines (


Using appropriate equipment

With those basics in mind, the easiest way to get the collectors up to the roof is with some serious equipment, such as a bucket truck, forklift, crane or roof hoist. Your local roofer may have what you need and be willing to hire it out; they may even have experience in installing collectors or PV panels.

Do not underestimate the difficulties involved in lifting a weight equivalent to an adult from the ground to the highest point on the installation building.

Manual lifting

The least recommended method is to lift the collectors manually. However, if this is your only option, it's best to have at least three people for the process.

Set up two ladders at the lift location, with a gap between them smaller than the collector is wide. Install the mounting brackets on the collector and lean it against the ladders. Tie on a rope long enough to reach from the roof to the ground, attaching it to the mounting brackets, not the manifold pipe.

Have one person climb up to the roof, carrying the loose end of the rope. Once there, they should secure themselves first and make sure they have a stable, solid footing. Then they can start hauling the collector up to the roof. The two people on the ground push the collector up, sliding it along the ladders, climbing as they go. They must be very careful to climb properly and slowly – always with three points of contact on the ladder – as, together with the person pulling from the roof, they slide the collector up.

When the collector reaches the top of the ladders, the rooftop hauler releases the rope (safely!) and takes hold of the collector directly, by the frame. The two ladder-climbers continue slowly up until the collector is half-way over the roof edge, when the rooftop hauler pivots the top edge