A solar panel system will last you 30 to 35 years. In that time, your solar panels will generate plenty of savings on your electric bills.
Because solar panel systems have such a long life, many homeowners have questions about the impact this will have on their roof. How will the roof hold up over time? What if you have to remove and reinstall your solar panels for a roof replacement?
Should you look into roof replacement prior to going solar?
Before you install solar panels, consider having your roof evaluated to make sure it can withstand installation, especially if the roof is towards the end of its life. If your roof is between five and 10 years from needing replacement, it’s a good idea to get an expert out there to assess.
Most solar companies don’t offer roofing services, although there are some exceptions. Either way, re-roofing is commonly done alongside a solar installation, and your solar contractor likely has good referrals for roofers in your area to contact.
If it’s determined that your roof should be replaced prior to going solar, it’s a smart move to do so. Solar panels are more durable than most roofing materials. As a result, when you pair solar with a roof replacement, the panels actually extend the lifetime of the portion of the roof that they cover.
The other benefit of pairing solar and a roof replacement together is that if you’re installing on a new roof, it’s unlikely you’ll need to re-roof during the lifetime of the system. This can help save you money in the long run, because you can avoid the costs associated with removing and reinstalling the solar panels on your roof.
How much does solar panel removal cost if you need to replace your roof?
If you run into a roofing issue, and need to replace the roof post-installation, there will be labor costs associated with taking the panels off your roof and putting them back on.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to give specifics on the costs associated with this labor, as it can vary greatly. Installers will have different rates for their labor, and the cost can also vary based on the size of the system, how many panels will need to be removed, and whether you need a place to store the equipment.
If mounting hardware also needs to be removed in order to replace your roof, this will add onto the cost. On average, residential installations tend to cost somewhere between $500 and $1,500 to remove and reinstall. (This is not inclusive of the cost required to replace your actual roof.)
For this type of work, it’s common to return to your original solar installer for the labor – they’ll be most familiar with the ins and outs of your particular system installation. Regardless, if you’d prefer to not use that installer, there are many solar companies that provide operations and maintenance services for installations that aren’t their own.
If re-roofing post-installation is a concern for you, it’s always good to ask your potential installer how often they do this type of work, and the typical cost associated with it. Some companies will actually specify a price for this in your initial contract, and it never hurts to request this from your company prior to installation.
Keep in mind, too, that while roofing issues caused by the installation are uncommon, many solar installation companies also have warranty coverage for your roof where the panels are located. Many companies do this because it’s common for existing roofing warranties to become void if you’re installing solar, at least for the portion of the roof where your system is installed.
The typical duration of this type of warranty is 10 years, but it can vary from company to company. Before you sign a contract, confirm with your installation company whether they warranty the roof and the duration of that warranty.
If I plan on replacing my roof anyway, should I just get solar shingles?
Solar shingles or building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), like the technology offered by Certainteed or Tesla, is certainly more attractive if you have to re-roof. Because the solar tiles or shingles will replace the roofing material itself, you won’t need to spend money on both and can still generate savings on electricity.
Having said that, solar shingles aren’t always the best option. There are relatively few contractors offering them as an option, and they come with a high price tag, especially compared to standard rooftop solar. Not only is the technology more expensive – solar shingles in the past have been less efficient than traditional panels, meaning that you need a much larger area covered to generate the same amount of electricity.
If you’re going to replace your roof prior to an installation, solar shingles are going to become a bit more competitive in pricing, but they’ll still likely be a higher upfront cost than installing a traditional roof and solar panels on top of it.
Is going solar still worth it if I need to re-roof?
An average solar installation will save homeowners tens of thousands of dollars over its lifetime. While re-roofing costs can be high, the savings of going solar should make up for it in the long term, and there’s no better time to evaluate solar if you were planning on re-roofing anyway (those panels love new roofs!).
If there’s a potential solar installation on your horizon, try out EnergySage’s Solar Calculator to get an estimate of potential costs and savings, or use the EnergySage Solar Marketplace to get competitive quotes for solar installations from local and reputable installation companies specific to your home. If your roof is on the older end, you can note this in your account. EnergySage installers can give you advice on potential roofers to contact, or sometimes even do the work themselves.