In the last decade, the cost of solar has seen a massive drop, making switching to green energy more affordable than ever. By the second quarter of 2020, Oregon alone had installed 880.94 MW of solar capacity—enough to power 114,837 homes. If you don’t have solar panels installed, chances are you know someone who does. Across the Pacific Northwest, more and more homeowners, local schools, and businesses are installing rooftop solar panels.
The solar industry is booming, and as a result, more homeowners are looking to power their homes through solar. However, a common question that many property owners have is: Can solar panels damage my roof?
If you’re considering switching to solar and you’re worried about solar panels damaging your roof, you will be relieved to know that roof damage is extremely rare since installers take all many precautionary steps to avoid it. In fact, solar panels can provide an added layer of protection to your roof!
Proper Installation of Solar Panels Prevents Roof Damage
Although solar panels themselves are not harmful to your roof, improper installation can lead to damage. Since the solar panels will be on your roof for 30 to 35 years, it’s important to take measures that will prevent any roof damage. The three main things to take care of are:
- Roof inspection – Not every type of roof is ideal for solar panels. Therefore, you must have an engineer inspect your roof to assess its strength and lifespan. This will help determine whether the roof can handle the weight of solar panels and if there are any weak spots. Knowing how long your roof will last is important. You should plan for your solar panels to remain on your roof for a minimum of 20 years, which means your roof should be able to significantly longer than that. Your installer will recommend getting your roof replaced if it is not in ideal shape to sustain solar panels for decades to come.
- Roof shape, size, and material – In addition to the strength and expected life of your roof, it is also important to take into consideration what material your roof is made of. The roof material should be compatible with solar panels. Fortunately, most roof materials can accommodate the installation of solar panels. The most compatible roofs for solar panels are asphalt shingles, tiles, and standing metal roofs. The size of your roof will determine whether there is enough space to install solar panels. For example, a 5 kW solar energy system would require at least 300 feet of surface area on your roof, while a larger system would require more surface area. Along with size, the shape of the roof also plays a role. The ideal roof for solar panel installation is a large, square one because it makes the installation process easier. However, other roof shapes may also accommodate solar panels.
- Choose a reputable installer – Residential solar gained popularity only a few years back, which means that there are limited professionals with proper knowledge of the solar installation process. Choosing an experienced and reputable installer that has a proven track record will ensure that the solar panels are installed correctly on your roof. You can also ask your installer any questions regarding the installation process, potential problems, and whether their workmanship warranty covers roof damage.
We at Smart Solar Energy Co. believe in educating our prospective customers and delivering exceptional customer service. You can request a solar audit at zero cost here to learn more about your solar options and the measures we take to prevent roof damage during the installation of solar panels.
Addressing Concerns About Solar Panel Installation
Will Installing Solar Panels Cause Leaks?
Many homeowners worry that to install solar panels on their roof, the installer will put holes in their roof that will lead to leaks. While it’s true that installers may have to drill holes into the roof to secure the panels, a professional installer will make certain that it causes no damage. The holes are drilled into the roof to install lag bolts for racking. Racking helps keep the solar panels in place and allows them to withstand harsh conditions. To preserve the structural soundness of your roof, installers surround the bolt fixture by flashing — a material that prevents water from leaking through your roof.
If you’re still concerned about holes in your roof, fret not! There are two modern solar installation methods that don’t involve penetrating the roof at all: a ballasted racking system and a roof clamp system.
The ballasted racking system involves placing concrete blocks to secure an array of solar panels to the ground or the roof. These blocks prevent wind lift and can withstand hurricane-force winds and heavy snows. If you have a flat roof, your solar installer will most likely recommend a ballasted racking system.
The roof clamp system involves the use of clamps to mount solar panels on metal standing-seam roofs. Clamps keep solar panels secured in place by linking solar modules to the rails below. Installers use two types of clamps — mid-clamps, which lie between two solar modules and hold them in place; and end-clamps, which are positioned at the end of the solar arrays and are usually larger in size.
Both of these systems involve zero or minimal roof penetration, making them a safe option for your roof. They are also easy to install and provide flexibility since the components can be removed any time access to the roof is required.
Will Solar Panels Add Additional Weight to My Roof?
Apart from the holes in the roof, another major concern homeowners have is the additional weight solar panels add to the roof. Solar panels are heavy, so it’s no surprise that they will add weight to your roof. However, in most cases, this would not pose a problem since roofs are designed to hold much more weight than the combined weight of 20 or 30 panels. Even if you live in an area that experiences heavy snowfall, you need not worry about the added weight due to snow accumulation. Solar panels are installed at an angle, allowing snow to slide off.
You should work with a professional solar installer to make sure that you don’t oversize your solar panel system. Oversizing will lead to solar panels taking up more space on your roof than required and adding unnecessary weight. A reputable solar installer will carefully assess your roof and energy needs to provide you with the most appropriate system for your home.
Will Solar Panels Cause My Roof to Heat Up?
There is a common misconception that during the process of converting sunlight to electricity, solar panels will generate heat. Though solar panels don’t generate heat, they do get hot as they are placed under direct sunlight. Even so, they will not cause your roof to heat up as they are not installed flat against your roof. The truth is that solar panels actually block sunlight from reaching your roof, thereby keeping your roof cooler than it would have been otherwise.
Will Installing Solar Panels Void My Roof Warranty?
When you get a new roof, it typically comes with a 25-year warranty. Roofs are expensive to replace, so we understand when property owners worry about solar panels voiding their roof warranty. Fortunately, your roof warranty will not be voided as qualified solar installers take adequate measures to install solar panels correctly. Even a small misplaced hole can cause leakage and damage to the roof. Professional installers understand this and work closely with their customers to ensure no damage is done.
Flashing and waterproofing, for example, are done to prevent water leakages.
Additionally, your solar installer will also provide you with a workmanship warranty for typically 10 years or more that will cover the area of the roof that they worked on. At Smart Solar Energy Co., we provide our customers with a 25-year platinum service and labor warranty. Any required repairs will be performed at our expense.
After you have had solar panels installed, we recommend you to perform an inspection of your roof twice a year to check for water leaks and other damages. If you catch an issue, contact your installer immediately to get it fixed before it causes excessive damage.
Always choose to work with a certified installer who knows the industry well since almost all your problems will be eliminated if the panels are installed correctly and your installer follows the guidelines laid down by the manufacturer of your roofing product.
Can Solar Panels Protect My Roof?
Absolutely! Solar panels can actually protect your roof and make it last longer. There are a couple of ways in which solar panels can prove to be advantageous to your roof.
- Solar panels can keep your house cooler – Since solar panels are mounted on your roof, they absorb the sunlight that may otherwise fall directly on your roof and provide shade. In turn, the temperature inside your home will come down. Researchers at UC San Diego conducted a study where they examined a building on campus that had solar panels installed. The study found that the ceiling with solar panels was around 5 degrees cooler compared to a section of the ceiling that wasn’t covered with solar panels. They estimated that the panels reduced the heat reaching the roof by 38%. There is also a small space between the solar panels and the roof where air can flow, adding to the cooling effect of the solar array. This does not only make the building cooler but also increases the efficiency of the panels.
- Solar panels prevent roof damage from harsh weather – Installing solar panels on your roof prevents changing weather conditions like snow, hail, rain, and even strong winds from damaging your roof. They also block the harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching your roof, which could otherwise accelerate aging in your roof. This protection can ultimately extend the life of your roof, saving you hundreds (or possibly thousands) of dollars you would’ve otherwise spent on repairs.
Solar Panels Can Increase Your Home Value
If you plan to sell your home in the future, a solar installation may provide you with even more value for money. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, buyers across the country have been willing to pay a premium of about $15,000 for a home with an average-sized solar array. What’s more? Evidence shows that homes with solar panels installed sell faster than those without! Going solar will help you save thousands on your utility bills and boost your property value too.
Installing solar panels in your home is a sound investment—one that is good not just for you, but the environment as well. Roof damage due to solar panels is extremely rare when you go with a licensed and reputable installer. When the installation is done correctly, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Solar panels will not cause damage to your roof; rather, they will provide an added layer of protection, extending your roof’s lifespan.