Solar Panels vs. Roof: Will Solar Panels Cause Roof Damage?

January 29, 2021

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One common question posed by homeowners considering solar power is, “Will solar panels damage my roof?” This is a fair and important question to ask, as solar panel systems are screwed or otherwise fastened to the roof materials, to keep them in place even during inclement weather.

The good news is that solar panels won’t damage a roof and don’t increase the risk of roof leaks, cracks, or holes, as long as the roof is in good condition and you invest in the services of a qualified solar panel installer. To better understand the benefits of solar energy and any risks to your roof, check out some vital information about solar panel installation and discuss your solar options with a solar power company near you!

Are Solar Panels Bad for Your Roof?

solar panels on roof

Homeowners often wonder if solar panels will damage a roof, pull on shingles or tiles, or be too heavy for a roof to handle properly. It’s also common for homeowners to wonder how to manage roof repairs with solar panels installed. So you make the best choice for your home, check out some added information about solar panel installation.

How are Solar Panels Installed?

To better understand how solar panels might affect a home’s roof, it’s helpful to note how solar panels are installed. Solar power systems consist of panels or modules, a racking or mounting system, and an inverter.

The solar racking system is installed parallel to the roof, on the side that gets the most sun exposure. This racking has feet that slide under shingles or tiles, and which are then bolted onto the roof decking, or the plywood that sits underneath shingles or tiles. These bolts are covered with flashing, metal panels that provide protection against leaks while also keeping the mounting system in place.

solar installer completing an install on the roof

Those feet hold aluminum racks, long metal pieces to which solar panels are attached, typically with clamps or other connectors. Solar racks are hidden behind the panels, for a clean, uncluttered appearance. These racks also provide a small gap between the panels and the home’s roof, for running wiring and also allowing roof debris to easily slide away from the panels.

The last part of your solar power system is the inverter. Solar panels capture sunlight, which consists of DC current; that current runs through the inverter, which inverts it to AC current, the electricity used by home appliances. This inverter might be mounted to the side of the home or it might be inside the home, usually near its circuit panel box.

Should You Replace or NOT Replace Your Roof Prior to Solar Panels?

Because solar power mounting systems are attached to the roof itself, its decking, shingles or tiles, and other layering materials should be in good condition. If the decking is water-damaged, worn and thin, or not strong and stable for any reason, it cannot provide a solid foundation for those bolts.

Also, since the mounting feet slide under shingles or tiles, those materials need to be strong and secure so they stay in place and not put undue pressure on the feet themselves. They should also be in good condition so that they don’t crumble away when the feet are installed!

A homeowner should consider replacing an old, worn roof for many reasons including added insulation and protection against interior water damage. If you’re considering solar power installation, it’s also recommended that you replace a roof too damaged to hold that system in place securely. Reroofing also means that you won’t likely need to make repairs or have a new roof installed for the lifetime of solar panel installation.

Do Solar Panels Make Your Roof Last Longer?

solar panels installed on a tile roof

Solar panels are extremely durable; their fronts are designed to withstand harsh rain, heavy snowfall, high winds, and falling debris, all without breaking or cracking. Because solar panels are so tough and strong, they can actually make your roof last longer, or at least the parts of the roof that they cover.

One word of caution; while solar panels can offer an added layer of protection for your roof, they’re not a substitute for a high-quality, annual roof inspection. Water and storm debris can still make their way under that mounting system, affecting roof shingles or tiles, and other materials.

Roof materials also simply wear out over time and need replacing eventually. Shingles dry out while tile can crack and crumble, and roof decking dries out and start to crack. Even with solar panels installed, ensure you invest in regular roof inspections for your home or business.

Will Solar Companies Replace Your Roof?

solar energy contractors completing a solar panel install

Solar companies typically specialize in solar panel installation and not roofing services. Rarely will they replace a homeowner’s roof, even if that means a few tiles and shingles, before solar panel installation.

However, if you do need a new roof installation before your solar panels are installed, you can ask your solar installer if they can recommend a roofer in the area. A solar company might get this question so often that they have a nice list of quality roofers with whom they work.

Will Solar Panels Void My Roof Warranty?

Every roof warranty is different, so there is no “one size fits all” answer as to whether or not solar panel installation voids your roof warranty. In most cases, solar panel systems won’t void a roof’s warranty as long as you use a certified installer rather than a general contractor, or install those panels yourself.

If your roof’s warranty is affected by solar panel installation, ask your solar installer if your roof would then be covered by their workmanship warranty. Most solar installers offer a warranty for their workmanship, stating that if the installation causes roof damage, they would be responsible for the cost of repairs. While this workmanship won’t cover your costs if the roof needs replacing simply due to age or everyday wear, you can rest assured that you won’t face roof repair costs due to the solar panels themselves.

Weighing Cost to Remove Solar Panels to Replace the Roof

Once solar panels are installed, they need to be removed if your roof needs repairs or replacing. However, this work is far cheaper and faster than the initial installation, as you already own the panels and the mounting system has already been cut and fitted to your home’s roof!

In most cases, a homeowner might spend $300 to $500 to have a solar panel installation removed and then reinstalled so that a roofer can access the roof easily. This process is also a good time for the solar company to inspect panels, the mounting system, and the wiring, and note if any parts need repairs or replacing. Your solar power system will then function optimally and stay in good condition once reinstalled on your home’s new roof.

solar panel install on roof

How Often Should I Clean Solar Panels?

While solar modules typically don’t need any maintenance, they do need occasional cleaning. Solar panels work by collecting sunlight across their front. When those glass fronts get dirty, they collect less sunlight which means generating less solar power!

For most homeowners, cleaning the front of their solar panels every six months is sufficient. However, if you live in an area where lots of dust, dirt, storm debris, sand, soot, and other residues end up on the home’s roof and exterior surfaces, you might clean those panels every month or as often as needed to ensure their glass fronts are unobstructed.

Solar panel companies typically offer panel cleaning services, to ensure you don’t damage those panels while cleaning or injure yourself while on a ladder. If you do want to tackle this job yourself, simply spray the panels with soapy water and then rinse. A squeegee gets the panels dry and removes any additional debris. 

What Is the Life Expectancy of Solar Panels?

solar panels on the lower part of the homes roof

While solar panels are durable and reliable, they do have an expected lifespan after which time their components break down and degrade. Wiring can also become frayed or worn over time.

The life expectancy of solar panels depends on their manufacturer and quality of materials. Most last from 20 to 50 years; today’s solar panel brands are typically more durable than ever before, and meant to last at least 40 to 50 years.

When considering your choices for solar power systems, note how long you expect to stay in your home and if that system is transferable if you should move. If you expect to stay in that house for several more decades, invest in the most durable solar panel system available, to ensure you get as many years as possible from that solar power system.

What Are the Main Disadvantages of Solar Energy?

Solar energy means clean, green energy without the harmful pollutants and emissions produced by electric power plants. Solar power is also free, so you don’t need to worry about utility rate hikes or increased costs if you were to invest in larger kitchen appliances at home or upgraded machinery at your production facility.

This doesn’t mean that solar power is without its drawbacks, and property owners should consider these carefully before investing in solar for their property. Note the two main drawbacks or disadvantages of solar power.

Solar Power Systems Can Often be Expensive to Purchase

While solar power is free, the systems needed to harness and invert that energy can be costly for some property owners! This cost is especially prohibitive if you need lots of panels to provide the power needed for your home or business.

On the other hand, solar panel installation costs are also prohibitive if you don’t use much electricity throughout the year. A single person in a small home, for instance, who doesn’t use the HVAC system very often and doesn’t have many large, power-consuming appliances, might pay less than $100 for electricity every month. A new solar power system for them might take years before it pays for itself, so it might not be the most cost-effective purchase.

This doesn’t mean that solar power systems are a poor financial choice, however, as tax credits, manufacturer rebates, and other incentives can mean the solar panels you need with little to no upfront costs. Leasing panels can also mean paying fewer upfront costs, so that your solar panels are a sound financial investment.

Solar Panels Aren’t Always Efficient for Every Property

Since solar panels collect sunlight and convert this into usable energy, it’s vital that those panels trap enough sunlight to produce the power needed for your home or business. If your structure’s roof is very small or has lots of obstructions that would block the panels, or if you live in an area that doesn’t get much sunlight to begin with, solar panels might not be a good choice for your property.

Why is My Electric Bill Still High With Solar Panels?

paying electricity bill with solar panels

Rarely do today’s solar systems store energy for a homeowner to use directly; instead, they produce energy that is sent back to your local utility company, and you are credited for that power produced. You then receive a bill at the end of each month for your power consumption minus that amount of solar power you “sold” to the utility.

If your electric bill is still high even after solar panel installation, you might consider your overall consumption and if you need to invest in more panels to offset your utility usage. Larger panels, more panels, or higher-quality panels can mean trapping and inverting more solar power, for more credit on your electric bill.

If you do have enough solar panels and think they should be trapping more sunlight than they are, ensure they’re clean and clear and that the wiring is also in good condition. Check, too, if there are any obstructions blocking sunlight around them, such as overhanging tree branches, and remove these if possible.

Go Solar Energy Texas is proud to bring this information to our readers and especially proud of the work offered by our solar panel installation specialists. If you’re still wondering, “Will solar panels damage my roof?” or would like to find out more about solar power in Texas, give us a call! We carry a wide range of solar panels all at prices you can afford, and would be happy to answer all your questions about the benefits of solar. All our work is fully guaranteed, so don’t hesitate to call or contact us today.

 

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