Can Solar Panels Damage My Roof?

Roof Solar Panel Installation is Safe if Done the Right Way

Solar panels on new tile roof showing no roof damage

Installing solar panels on your roof can help reduce your electric bills while also letting you switch to greener energy.  But before making that move, homeowners may wonder is it safe to install solar panels on my roof? Will they need to make holes in my roof? Could the panels be too heavy for my roof to handle, causing expensive damage? The good news is, most modern roofs can handle solar panels and, if your roof is in good shape, installation will be fairly easy. Still, there are things to consider. Knowing more about roof solar panel installation can help you make the right decision.

Your Roof’s Characteristics and Condition

Man installing alternative energy photovoltaic solar panels on roof

When you’re deciding whether or not to get solar panels installed on your roof, there are certain roof factors to consider. These include how much weight your roof is able to support, its configuration, how old your roof is and its general condition, and which direction your roof slopes face.

Your roof needs to be strong enough to support the weight of solar panels, or else you’ll need to have support added. You’ll also need to make sure that your roof is large enough for solar panels. Generally your solar installer will calculate the square footage necessary to accommodate the panels required to sufficiently power your home.

The age of your roof is an important factor to take into consideration. An older roof is more likely to have damage or excessive wear and tear. Having a roof that is newer helps reduce this risk. How well it has held up is important. If there is storm damage, loose or missing components or significant debris, these should be taken care of before the addition of solar panels to the roof’s surface.

In terms of your roof slopes, these should be facing certain directions in order for you to get the most out of your solar panels. Ideally, these slopes should face west or south. Your solar installer will work with you to determine the suitability of your roof’s orientation. You can also find out how your roof is oriented for solar by using Google Project Sunroof.

Potential Problems with Solar Panels

With proper planning, preparation and installation by trained and experienced installers, solar panel installation will usually be quick and problem free. After your solar installation is up and running, panels should be kept free of debris and cleaned as needed for best performance. 

If solar panels aren’t properly installed, roof damage may occur that will cause problems later.  Holes or gaps left in the roof materials could lead to drainage problems or leaks when it rains. Knowledge of proper installation on a number of roof types is vital, so be sure your installer has proper training and experience.

It’s also best not to oversize your solar panels, taking up more roof space than needed and adding extra weight. A knowledgeable solar installer will look at your energy usage and the size and shape of your roof and configure the smallest and most appropriate solar panel array for you, leaving plenty of space for flashing, fixtures and gutters to function properly and keeping panels and hardware far from tree limbs and other nearby vegetation.

It’s important to work with a reliable solar panel contractor to ensure that the installation is done properly to avoid costly damage that might also void your roof warranty. For these reasons, we don’t recommend trying to do solar panel installation yourself.

Preparing the Roof for Solar Panels

Construction workers Fixing roof tiles preparing for solar panels

Whether you chose to lease or buy, stay on or go off the grid, you have begun interviewing solar panel providers. But before you have them begin the work, make sure your roof is ready.  Since work will be done on the surface of your roof by the installers, you first should have your regular roofer make sure the roof is in good shape. The contractor will take a look for loose tiles, shingles or flashing, for breaks or cracks, pooling water or any damage that has occurred. He can remove debris and clean out gutters to be sure they are ready for any weather that follows installation. He will take care of any repairs or roof maintenance that are needed. Having roof damage fixed beforehand helps prevent additional or more serious damage that might go unnoticed or be harder to access after the panels are installed.

A professional roofer will let you know whether your roof structure is appropriate for solar panels. Depending on how much weight your roof can handle, you might need to have additional support installed for your solar panels. You shouldn’t assume that your solar panel contractor will be able to determine if your roof is ready for installation. A professional roofing contractor will know what to look for and what repairs or maintenance tasks need to be done prior to solar panel installation.

Roof Replacement

If your home and roof are older or under renovation, a roof replacement may be advisable before you consider solar panel installation. If your roof is near the end of its lifespan, you’ll want to install a new roof first so your solar panels’ typical 10-20 year lifespan will not need to be cut short by a roof that no longer protects the home. Taking care of this beforehand helps lower the risk of running into issues due to an aging roof once your solar panels are installed. Completing your roof replacement now will lower your roof replacement costs in the long run since your solar panels will not need to be removed.

If you’re not sure what stage of its lifecycle your roof is in, have your roofing contractor do an inspection and advise you on the condition of your roof.

Proper Solar Panel Installation

There’s generally no need to worry about solar panels damaging the surface of your roof. Proper roof solar panel installation typically includes a system, such as a roof clamp or ballasted racking system, that doesn’t involve making holes in your roof. As long as these are installed correctly, you’ll have a reduced risk of having problems with leaks and moisture. Keep in mind that solar panels can be safely and properly installed on many types of roofs, including asphalt shingles, metal, wood, concrete, slate, clay, and rubber. Even flat roofs can have solar panels as long as they’re tilted at the right angle. 

New Roof and Repair Services Las Vegas

If you need roof repairs, a pre-solar installation inspection or other roofing services in the Las Vegas area, please contact Prestige Roofing today at 702-646-7536.

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