Replacing a Roof With Solar Panels

Find out about replacing a roof with solar panels including its benefits, cost, warranty, maintenance, and how long solar panels last on your roof. 
Modern house with solar panels on the roof swimming pool and wood panel wall exteriorGetting a new roof for your home is a major project to take on. It’s already complex enough as it is. When you add in the thought of adding solar panels, it will make it even more complex.  This can bring up a bit of anxiety as well as a lot of questions for homeowners who are thinking about getting solar panels installed on their roof.

Do you need to remove panels to get your roof replaced? Will it be the roofers who will remove the panels or will your solar panel installers be the ones to do it? Can you get your solar mounting built directly on top of your roof?

Despite the obvious complex processes required to get solar panels installed, more and more homeowners are looking into getting them because of the ongoing awareness for adopting renewable energy. This is an active effort to move into getting more sustainable sources in the homes. The adoption for solar rooftop panels have been accelerating and shows no signs of stopping.[toc] 

Benefits Of Getting Solar Panels Installed

Modern house with roof solar panels and plant on the exterior wallsCost savings – This is one of the biggest pros of getting solar panels installed on your roof. To speak plainly, rooftop solar installations can help you save money on your energy bills.

Because your solar panels are supplying a certain amount of electricity in your home, it means that you’ll be consuming less from your traditional electricity source which directly translates to savings on your energy costs.

It has even been said that with an ample amount of sun, rooftop solar panels can power a household with three kids and two adults. This nets at zero energy consumption. This is variable to the area that you live in and the amount of sun you get.

It also depends on the season. Winter and summer months, for example, tends to consume more energy which means you will have to draw some of your electricity from the grid.

Tax rebates and credits – Solar panels on your roof are a considerably sensible investment and you’ll see that in the long run, your panels will actually be paying you. For starters, you get to file the 30% of the total cost of your system under a federal income tax credit with your taxes.

This means that if your system costs $25,000, for example, you will get $7,000 back. In addition to this, there’s a bill that’s been passed back in 2016 (Renewable Portfolio Standard Expansion Act of 2016) that sets up a program to assist low-income households in installing solar systems for their homes within the Department of Energy.

Not only is this economically profitable, it is also a very sociable program to pass through. Because of this, a lot of solar panel installation companies actually offer installation at no cost at all. This is made possible by them fronting the money required for the installation and the panels and they charge for electricity at a much reduced rate.

It’s an ex-deal agreement wherein they’re “leasing” your roof space and in exchange, you get discounts on your electricity consumption. This is a great option to go for in the event that a homeowner doesn’t want to make a financial investment or would want to get solar panels without shelling out any amount of money in the process. The proceeds collection from the SRECs in this case will be collected by the installers.

You get savings right from day one. Energy costs can easily rack up to being in the thousands per year. It has been said that a person’s annual energy consumption can cost an average of $3,000 or so. This calculation is already inclusive of both residential and transportation energy.

It can increase your home’s resale value. Research says that homeowners with rooftop solar panels installed in their homes saw a $5,911 resale value increase per kilowatt installed. This means that if you have a 3-kilowatt system in your home, it can boost the resale value by almost $18,000.Solar panels on brick houses roofs in neighborhood

Extension of your roof’s life span – Since they can provide an extra layer of protection against debris, rain, snow, and the other elements brought on by the weather, solar panels have been known to extend your roof’s life span.

In the summer months, heat coming from the sun isn’t beating down on your roof because it’s being absorbed by your solar panels first and this keeps your home’s temperature considerably lower compared to when you don’t have solar panels installed.

It’s eco-friendly – Solar panel systems in your home derive energy from the sun. This type of energy is pure and clean. This means that if you go down this route, you are actively contributing to lessening greenhouse gas emissions as well as minimize dependence on fossil fuel as an energy source.

The electricity source that comes from the grid is sourced from fossil fuels in the form of either natural gas or coal. Electricity is produced when they are burned. This emits gases that can be harmful to the environment and is actually the main cause of global climate change as well as air pollution.

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Then you also have to consider that fossil fuel is a source that’s finite. This is why the costs can be very volatile as it’s dependent on the law of supply and demand. Fossil fuel also requires water resources for its processing and this causes water pollution.

Solar power, on the other hand, requires no water to operate which means that not only are you not causing water pollution, you also aren’t causing a strain on your location’s water supply source.

It can create jobs – Clean energy is a new and emerging sector and it will only grow bigger as adoption for solar power progresses. This means that by choosing to go down this route, you will indirectly be contributing to creating jobs as well. You may want to check out our related article about new roof and solar at the same time.

Can You Replace A Roof Without Removing Solar Panels?

Beautiful modern country house with roof terrace and solar panelsThe short answer to this is a no. You will really have to remove your solar panels first before you can replace your roof. There really isn’t any way around it.

The solar panels have to come down first before you can get to your actual roof. This means that you will lose access to your solar energy source for the entire duration of your roof replacement process and for the time being, you will have to rely on utility grid power until such time that your solar panels are back up.

Who Will Remove The Panels?

Definitely not your roofers. Your roofers aren’t equipped with the skill as well as equipment required to properly facilitate your solar panel removal. The recommendation is for you to call up your solar panel installers to take your solar panels down before you can proceed with your actual re-roofing project. 

The timeline required for this is that it will take at least a day or so for them to take your solar panels down and it will also take about a day to put them back up. To be on the safe side, it would be best if you allot 3 to 5 days so you are prepared for any delays, just to be on the safe side.

How To Replace A Roof With Solar Panels

Electrician in blue suit installing solar panel on roof of modern houseThere are a lot of factors to consider before you can go ahead with the decision to replace a house’s roof. House roofs on average need some kind of updating or re-roofing every decade or so.

Here are some things to check out when assessing your roof for replacement:

• Type of roof

• How heavy it is

• The roof’s common condition

If you aren’t that handy around the house, it would be best for you to consult your solar panel installers. Most companies provide free checkups about your roof’s condition. Get your roofers to weigh in as well.

Here are some signs that your roof might need replacement:

• Granule loss – If your room has shingles, its topmost layer can get worn out over time especially from harsh weather conditions such as wind, hail, and snow.

• Roof age estimate – Roofs that are older than 10 years usually need replacement before solar panels can be installed. Although there are exceptions. Asphalt roofs, for example, can last for up to 30 years so it would be best to get a thorough roof checkup.

• Discolored roof decking

• Discoloration and disintegration of your insulation

• Water damage such as leaks

• Damaged vents and shingles

Rotting facia board and gutters are falling away from the house roof1. Contact your rooftop solar panel installers – If you’ve already purchases a rooftop solar panel system, their specialists should be able to take it from there and give you the necessary recommendations. 

2. Get your solar panels removed – Once you’ve called up your rooftop solar panel installers, they will go ahead and handle the removal of the said panels. This way, you’ll be able to accidentally damage your panels.

This will also ensure that you won’t be voiding any warranties. It’s best if you work with the same solar panel installers. If this doesn’t happen to be an option though, another company will be able to handle it still. You just need to discuss it with them.

3. Secure your solar panels – Once the panels have been removed, you need to make sure that you temporarily store them in a secure spot. This should be at a safe distance from the roof replacement. An external shed or garage should suffice. Make it a point not to leave them exposed outside on your front lawn or on your porch. Read our guide on solar panel sizes for more related information.

4. Get the roofing material removed – Once the solar panels are removed, your roofers should be able to begin the process of actually removing your old roof. Be ready for having a lot of debris fall over so make sure that you prep the surrounding areas. They will also typically manage your expectations about the amount of time that this will take.

5. The actual roof replacement – Once the old roof of the house has been removed, the re-roofing process will then begin. The amount of time this will take will depend on the kind of roof you’ll be having as well as what the size of the roof is.

6. Get your solar panels re-installed – Once the roof replacement is done, your solar installers can then take over and begin the reinstallation process on your new roof. This also includes the reconnection of your solar panels up to your solar batteries and utility grid, if you happen to still connect to one. (Some houses are 100% solar and are completely off the grid).

Cost To Remove Solar Panels For A New Roof

Solar panels on the red roof of a beautiful house with exterior window shuttersThe re-installation of your solar panels will typically take as much or even more work than the initial installation. It will cost you around $250 to $300 per panel on average. 

Here’s a cost breakdown based on a 10-panel calculation:

Removal and disconnection of panels – $50 to $75 per panel – $500 to $750 total cost

Mounting hardware removal – $25 per panel – $250 total cost

Panel & mounting hardware reinstallation and activation – $50 to $75 per panel – $500 to $750 total cost

Mounting hardware replacement (i.e. flashings) – $50 per panel – $500 total cost

Fees for permits and inspections – $50 per panel – $500 total cost

This totals at $255 to $275 per panel or a total cost of $2,250 to $2,750.

If some of your solar panels have been damaged and they require repairs, it would be best to be ready with an extra $250 to $2,000 depending on the extent of the damage. Some issues you may come across with would be:

A panel isn’t working and its inverter needs replacement

Roof penetrations from the mounting hardware require may require patching

Solar Panel Removal Tips

Brick house with solar panels on the roofHere are some considerations to keep in mind when it comes to the removal and reinstallation of your solar panels:

1. Most of the original hardware such as the mounting hardware and flashings may be damaged easily upon their removal.

2. Permits may need to be requested from your city’s building and safety department.

3. Most solar companies will require at least 6 more panels to be added to your setup.

4. The solar panel company’s quote will solely cover the removal and reinstallation of the solar panels. The rest of the costs that may come with the actual roofing material will not be covered by them.

5. Make it a point to contact your original solar panel installation company. If that doesn’t seem to be possible, make sure that you contact a similar company. This is a job for professionals so it would be safest if you don’t attempt to DIY it.

This needs to be done properly and needs to be under warranty coverage or you will end up incurring costs that could easily rack up to the thousands of dollars.

Will A Solar Company Pay For A New Roof

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Most of the solar companies in the country don’t come with roofing services. It goes without saying that they will not offer it nor pay for it.

However, solar reinstallation and re-roofing usually go hand in hand so ask them for roofer referrals and they’re bound to give you some really good ones that you can contact in your area.

Do Solar Panels Void Roof Warranty?

House with solar panels on the roof and sunflowers in the gardenIt’s important for you to review your roof warranty before deciding to get solar panels installed. Your warranty may be voided in the event of modifications such as if any shingles are removed. Here are the types of roof warranties to familiarize yourself with:

• Standard warranty – This covers any type of defect in the materials coming from the manufacturer. These warranties will not cover roof damage that came from external installations.

Workmanship warranty – This is issued by the contractor who did your roof job and its coverage as well as the length of time that the coverage runs for. It all depends on the roofing company as well as on the materials used.

This type of warranty can cover damage on the interiors of your home and damages from external and internal installations. But this does not cover damages from severe weather conditions.

• Extended warranty – This is the best type of warranty to get. This is usually provided by installers when you opt to get their entire roofing system. They cost more. However, they also provide expansive coverages such as errors made during the roofing process and external installations tof the roof.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last On Your Roof?

Solar panels on the roof of a white big houseUnfortunately, these solar panels won’t last forever. The industry standard for the life span of a typical solar panel is at a range of 25 to 30 years. What this means is that somewhere within your lifetime, you may need to get some of these panels replaced.

Do Solar Panels Need Maintenance?

Worker cleaning solar panels on house roofSolar panels have been engineered to really be exposed to the elements. This is where they get the power from, in the first place. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are immune to damage.

Too much exposure from heat, moisture, or even debris could end up affecting the overall performance of your roof solar panel system. This makes periodic maintenance of your solar panel system an absolute necessity. 

When it comes to maintaining your solar panels, a proactive approach is always key. Make it a point to have a cleaning and bi-annual periodic checkup done by your solar company so you can get rid of any possible issues early on.

Waiting for a total breakdown of your system can be costly so it’s always best to maintain an inspection routine to avoid potential problems

Visit our guide to solar design software for more on planning your home’s solar layout.

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