26 Jan Solar Rooftops: The Big Questions
Owning a home tends to be someone’s biggest asset. It protects them and their family, so it’s very understandable homeowners have questions about solar panels being installed on their roof.
Before any solar panel customer can receive a contract that outlines the scope of work from Buffalo Solar Solutions, a site assessment MUST be conducted and completed by one of our solar professionals. During the assessment, the conditions and measurements of your roof structures, as well as all current electrical equipment on the property, will be inspected and documented.
The condition of your roof before installing solar panels is very important, as solar panel systems have an expected lifetime of 30 years. There are three categories that a roof could be classified by—”New or Like New,” “Suitable or Questionable,” or “Unsuitable.”
“New or Like New”
If a new roof was installed on your home within the past 5 years, and there is no structural damage or imperfections, your roof would be classified as a “New or Like New” roof. Roof conditions could have slight visible wear in the shingles from sunlight, but the main determinate is how well the tar line holding the shingles together performs. If you’re pulling up on shingles and it’s very difficult to separate from the other shingles, it’s in great condition. Every “New or Like New” roof is ideal for installing solar panels, and their asphalt roof shingles are expected to last the life of the solar panel system.
“Suitable or Questionable”
“Suitable or Questionable” doesn’t mean your roof is in bad condition. It’s really based on primary question: Can the current roof conditions last 30 more years? Because of that, if your roof is 10 years old or older, it will most likely fall into this category. Things that tell us if a roof is beginning to age include (but are not limited to):
- Discoloration present on many shingles
- Missing or loose shingles
- Necessary repairs to prevent leaks or things of that nature
Roofs in this category are still great candidates for solar panels, but a new roof may need to be installed during the lifespan of your solar panels. Solar panels essentially protect your roof from mother nature and sunlight, so the portion of the roof with solar panels will most likely not to need replacement until the solar panels are gone.
But what if the rest of roof needs replacing? With solar energy becoming more popular in recent years, roofing contractors have experience with re-roofing and solar panels. There are two approaches to dealing with this scenario:
- Have your solar energy contractor remove the panels from your roof for a small fee and keep all flashings, lag bolts, brackets and rails installed on the roof. This will give the roofers the ability to shingle around the flashings and replace your entire roof.
- If the shingles under a solar array are still in good condition, a homeowner may choose to not pay any solar contractor to remove the panels, but instead have the roofers re-roof around the solar panel array.
“Unsuitable” roofs for solar panels cannot have a roof-mounted solar array installed due to the current conditions. Reasons a roof would be declared “Unsuitable” include (but are not limited to):
- Severe shingle wear or damage
- Structural issues regarding damaged or broken rafters
- Extreme bowing in the roof
- Existing water proofing issues
As solar professionals, it is our job to give every customer an honest and correct answer to their energy needs and to make sure they will not face problems in the future. To that end, we require a structural engineer’s stamp of approval for every installation, stating that the roof can support the additional load weight of the solar panels.