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Should I replace my roof before installing solar panels?

Should I replace my roof before installing solar panels?

You’re interested in installing solar panels on your home and your roof is the ideal place for the solar array. But is your roof up to the job?

A few items to take into account when considering whether or not to replace your roof before you switch to solar: the roof’s age, its condition, and the costs involved for repairs or replacement.

There are a few signs you may know about already to determine the condition of your roof without even climbing up a ladder. Those signs include:

  • Leaks or stains in the attic or walls
  • Mildew
  • Dark “dirty-looking” spots on the roof
  • Excessive energy costs due to insufficient ventilation

For more general signs, take a look at GAF’s Key Danger Signals of a Failing Roof.

Professional inspection

Should I replace my roof before installing solar panels 1If you are unsure or haven’t seen any of these signs, that’s probably a very good thing. Either way, you’ll definitely need a professional to assist you in further assessment. Your solar contractor can recommend a good local roofing company to work with and most reputable roofing contractors provide free estimates, so there should be no additional cost for the assessment.

An experienced roofing contractor can inspect your roof and let you know if it would be wise to install a solar array on it or if it would be best to replace it. Sometimes it may just be a matter of performing a few repairs to fix any minor issues in preparing your roof for the panels.

The roof’s age can help the contractor determine how the roofing materials are holding up and whether they are likely to continue to hold up in the future. The material style can help pinpoint how old the roof is and they will ask you few questions about how long you’ve lived in the home or if you actually know when the roof was originally installed.

The roofing contractor will look for red flags such as material wear (missing, cracked, or curling shingles), any leaks or weaknesses, and dry rot.

Although a typical solar array only weighs around 4 lbs. per square foot, a damaged or weak roof can end up sagging a little under the added weight over time. Sagging can mean cracks and leaks, which leads to dry rot and a host of other issues. It’s really not worth the risk!

Ask questions and make sure you fully understand the reasons for the roofing contractor’s recommendation so you can make your decision and take the next step.

Factor in the cost

Yes, if you really need one, a new roof is an added cost. But think about the cost involved in having the solar contractor remove the installed panels from your old roof and then reinstall them onto the new roof.

And don’t forget that when the solar panels are off, it means that you are not producing any power, so your electric bill will go naturally go up until the solar panels are reinstalled and turned back on. The entire process could take a week or two depending on the varying schedules of each contractor involved, as well as weather conditions.

You’ll need to weigh the convenience with the cost to see if it’s a better option to just replace the roof before the panels go up.

Bottom line: while you may be able to squeeze out a few extra years on an older roof, the best scenario for installing solar panels is on a roof that is in good condition and will not need replacement for a while.

should I replace my roof before installing solar panels?

  • Charly Devid

    a simple roofing leak can easily become a much more serious problem

  • Jensen

    I totally agree @charlydevid:disqus , you have to be careful with leaks in your roofing because small problems become big real fast!

  • This is the first and only place on the web that I’ve seen mention the cost which solar adds to roof replacement. I think it might be wise to expect at least one roof replacement in the life of your system, and add that into the cost. It’s about a thousand dollars per kilowatt to remove and replace a system.

  • [email protected]

    I had solar installed on my roof and at the time knew my roof was going to need to be replaced within the next few years. The Solar sales person when asked about this acted as if it was a dumb question and said they do it all the time at nominal cost saying a few hundred dollars. Well that day has come the estimate is $6500 for them to come remove the 9 solar panels then put it back after the roofers are done. This roof cost is 11,000 so almost the cost of a new roof for a small solar setup. The Solar company says this is at their cost and this is not a money making job for them. The original install was warrantied by the solar company so i can’t shop for bids on this.

    • Mark Danenhower

      Hi jimbob – thanks for your comment. Can you tell me which sales person you spoke to at our company? I’m trying to locate your email address in our system but can’t seem to find it. Our charge to remove and reinstall panels is much less than the quote you mentioned so would like to double check with you. Please feel free to contact one of our customer care team members to put you in touch with our service department for a more accurate quote: 877-607-6527, option 2

    • Kevin Wong

      Yikes! How did the reinstallation and reroofing work out for you? I also heard that removal and reinstallation of a solar array wouldn’t be much either, but I’m shocked to see you were quoted at $6,500. Depending on your system size, 3 guys should be about to get it done over the span of 12 man-hours. I have yet to have my array installed and I’m estimating that I have about 10 years left of my roof.

  • Justin Adams

    This article provides better option to just replace the roof before the panels go up. So visit us at “http:// http://www.uavrg.com /”> Roof Inspection.

  • I believe for the best result and long lasting roof with a solar panel install.It is best to change the roof so that it can sustain any condition and can last longer than expected time frame.

  • Daniela

    Worst Case scenario is to get a free roofing quote, then you can be certain.

  • Mikela Fetter

    I would think that if you took the time to add such a large investment to your home, you would make sure it had a healthy support, right? I wish Schaumburg Roofing did solar panels 🙁 Anyone have a recommendation in the Chicagoland area for solar panels??

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