You want to install solar panels and your roof is the best location for installation. But does your roof fit the bill?
Before switching to solar, decide whether or not replacing your roof is a smart move. Items to consider include the roof’s age, history, present condition, and replacement costs.
To determine your roof’s condition, don’t climb up a ladder. Just note these signs:
- Stains or leaks in the walls and attic
- Dark “dirty-looking” spots on the roof
- High energy costs because of insufficient ventilation
For more signs, check out the article 8 Warning Signs That Your Roof Is Shot.
Your roof is up to the task if no signs are present. For in-depth assessment, hire an expert like Dragon Roofing. Ask your solar contractor to recommend a good local roofer. Reputable roofers provide free estimates and do free inspections. In short, there are no additional costs.
The roofer will inspect your roof and advise you if it’s wise to install solar panels on it. Roof replacement is the solution if performing a few repairs doesn’t fix the issue. Roofers take the roof’s age into account to determine if the roofing materials are sturdy and whether they’ll remain so in the future.
Be ready to answer questions like: When was the roof originally installed? How many repairs have you done? And what was the frequency of repairs? Other red flags the roofer will look for are leaks, weaknesses, dry rot and material wear (cracked, missing or curling shingles).
Solar panels aren’t that heavy, but a weak or damaged roof can sag a little under the extra weight. Sagging causes leaks and cracks. Ask questions and heed the roofer’s recommendations to make a decision.
Even if your roof is new, if it gets too much shade throughout the day, installing solar panels on it is impractical. If plan A doesn’t work, go to plan B. Simply mount the panels on the ground.
Factor in the Cost
A new roof is costly. But what’s more expensive is having a solar contractor remove solar panels from your old roof and reinstall them on the new one. This process can take one or two weeks. It depends on weather conditions and the varying schedules of each contractor – roofer and solar installer – involved.
When the panels are off, you can’t produce any power. You’ll have to wait until they’re reinstalled and restarted. During that phase, your electric bill will go up. If only you had a new roof, you wouldn’t experience such downtime. That’s why roofing contractors and solar installers advise homeowners to replace their roofs before the solar panels go up.
Installing solar panels on a roof that’s in good condition and won’t need a replacement for a while is what we recommend. Squeezing more years out of an old roof is possible. However, for your solar panels to work efficiently and serve you for years, you have to dig deep into your pockets to maintain your roof.