solar panel roof replacement

Roofing with solar panels: solar panel roof replacement logistics

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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? Does your roof need to be prepped a certain way for solar panels to fit?

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 $1,500 to $6,000 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 our 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.

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About Kerry Thoubboron

Kerry has worked in solar for more than 6 years, starting her career as an Energy Advisor dedicated to helping customers compare their options and make well-informed solar decisions. She graduated from Boston University with a degree in Environmental Analysis and Policy. Outside of work, you can find Kerry snowboarding, watching The Office, or having passionate debates about which New England state is best (spoiler: it's Vermont).

15 thoughts on “Roofing with solar panels: solar panel roof replacement logistics

  1. Afton Jackson

    Thank you for explaining why planning a roof replacement with solar panels in mind is a good long-term investment. We’re planning to do a lot of renovations this year and one of our ideas was to go solar since we’re trying to save up on energy costs while working from home. Since we’re planning to get panels in the future, I’ll definitely take this chance to find a roofer in the area that can help us re-roof our house with a better material first.

  2. Mark

    does anyone know who can take my solar panels off so I can get a new roof put on.My solar comp. wants me to wait till January. There is mold in the attic and I have three kids living here (2yrs.,1yr.7month and 9 year old).I just need them taken down for now. I live on Long Island.Please Help.

  3. David DiLella

    I need to put a new roof on I need my panel removed then put back on
    Do you have someone who can do that
    I have the roofer I just need the panels removed and them put back on
    Thank yoi

  4. Sunni

    Why can’t we put down plywood panels over roof tresses (right word?) and then cover the entire roof with solar panels?

  5. Jeff Kast

    We need 8 panels removed and then put back on new colourbond roof how much would this cost .? Thanks Jeff Kast.

  6. Solar Commentator

    It typically takes 4-6 hours to properly and safely remove panels, racking, mounting feet and all associated electrical from the roof.

    The inventory is typically safely secured at the customer’s location. This takes an hour or so.

    Re-install takes another 4-6 hours and it is possible that rails, mounting feet and other hardware need replaced as well.

    Total is 12 hours minimum, with 2 people working together. That is 24 hours. Plus around $150 for material contingency.

    Technicians are being paid around $30 an hour. Add in business expenses, insurances, misc costs. What do you expect this to cost?


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