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Should You Replace Your Roof When Installing Solar Panels | DroneQuote

By DroneQuote | Posted June 26, 2019

Damaged roof needing replacement before solar panels are installed

Damaged roof needing replacement before solar panels are installed

End Of Life Roofs May Need Replacement Before New Solar Panels

As more people decide to move forward with taking back control of the cost of electricity from the utility, solar panels become more and more attractive with each passing day. The challenge is that understanding the specifics of buying solar for your home can be a daunting task, so we often like to compare it to something we are all more familiar with, cars. So with the car metaphor in mind, we’ll make a comparison for installing new solar panels on an old roof by asking you the following question: Would you put a tired and near end of life engine into an otherwise brand-new car?

As homeowners start their search into buying solar panels for their home, they are oftentimes surprised to find out that their roof might need some attention as well, those are the lucky ones. Some less than reputable solar companies have been known to disregard the roof condition and not tell the customer in order to make the sale.

When you are searching for the right company to install solar panels on your roof, one of the very first questions, even more important than the specifics of the solar panel components, should be to question the installer on the condition of your roof.

The Condition Of Your Roof Matters For Solar Panels

Your home’s roof condition is paramount to the structural integrity of your home. A roof in good condition will protect you and everything else underneath from the harsh elements of the world. A roof that is in great condition is a prime candidate for solar panels because it will support the continuous functionality of your solar panels over many years. This is important for two reasons: 1) You expect to get what you pay for. Anytime that the solar panel’s functionality is interrupted, you are losing the production of valuable solar power. More importantly, 2) There is a cost associated with the removal and replacement of the solar panels on your roof.

The thing that you have to bear in mind, if you think you may be OK when you install solar panels on a questionable roof, is that solar panels will function for a very long time. The warranties for solar panels run a period of 25 years for most solar panels. What this means for you is that they’re expected to be up on the roof for at least 25 years, if not more. At the end of 25 years the panels don’t simply turn off, they keep working. After 25 years they will still be producing a significant amount of power, anywhere from 80-90% of their original capacity.

If you install a 25-year solar panel system on your roof that has less than ten years of life span left in it, you will be setting yourself up for an added expense at a later time. Perhaps you may be thinking to yourself that it may not matter much since you are “planning to move in the next 5-7 years”, and while that may be the case, what if it doesn’t come to fruition. Now you are back to square one, and if you do in fact move and sell your home, the next homeowner is going to pay for an inspection and any delayed roof repairs will be brought to your attention.

As solar and roofing professionals, we at DroneQuote strongly suggest you consider the condition of your roof when you are planning to install solar panels. Even if it means you end up NOT installing solar panels, we would rather you invest first in the integrity of your roof. The primary reason for that is that we often find that customers who waited too long “in order to save money” end up paying for additional repairs for wood rot or other issues caused by leaks. Keep in mind that not seeing a roof leak doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

How To Identify A Worn Roof For Replacement

Before I installed a new roof on my home, whenever it rained I did, in fact, have a nagging feeling of concern. Anytime I knew it would rain I worried. The worst was when I would be asleep and wake up to the sound of rain, I would immediately think about how my roof was about to collapse over my head. That is no way to live in your home if you ask me. The problem was that from the ground level, the roof looked fine. Now imagine someone who isn’t a roofing expert, those people may not even think about their roof until it is too late and a problem is tapping them on the shoulder, or worse, water starts dripping from the ceiling.

Depending on the kind of roof you may have, there are a few telltale signs you can look for. First and foremost is the age of the roof. If you have lived in your home over 20 years and have never replaced your roof, I can tell you already that you are nearing the end of roof life. Worse yet is if you have lived in the home for less time but didn’t have a clear understanding of the roof age at the time of home purchase.

Asphalt shingle roofs are very common, and fortunately, it is easier to spot issues with these roofs than it is with other roofs. The reason being is that the overlayment (the shingles) are what protects the rest of the roof from the elements and that overlayment is easily visible. In the image below, you can see that there are shingles missing and that the shingles look rather worn. This would be a perfect example of a roof that would need a re-roof before solar panels were installed.

Roof that is in poor condition and needs to be replaced before installing solar panels

Old roof needs re-roof before solar

Another place to look for telltale signs of aging and wear and tear on the roof is actually on the ground. Composition shingle roofs give off little signs that they are wearing down by the number of granules you can find on the ground or in the rain gutters. In the image below, you can see the rain gutters on this roof have a lot of granules in them.

Granules in rain gutter from an older asphalt shingle roof

Loss of granules show wear

It is not all bad news for you if you have an asphalt shingle roof and you want to install solar panels. The upside is that installing solar panels on this kind of roof is easier than on other roof types, which means that you will see for a more competitive price.

Other roof types make it harder to tell whether or not they should be replaced. Examples of this are concrete tile or clay tile roofs. The reason for this is that the tiles do protect the underlayment from the sunlight and from water, but the other half of protection is the tar paper that is installed underneath the tiles. To further complicate things tiled roofs may make it harder to spot issues because there aren’t as many signs of aging or wear. Signs of problems with tiled roofs are cracked, missing, or dislocated tiles, but with so many tiles on a roof and so many different roof sections, it may be hard to miss a tile that is missing, damaged, or dislocated.

Roof inspected for solar panel installation shows broken roof tiles on the hip

Broken roof tile

The roof tile in the image below shows a tile that is cracked at the ridge section of a hip, but fortunately it was near the bottom of the ridge meaning that any water that seeped through didn’t come into contact with much of the underlayment and it seems like there was a way to drain water where the flat roof met the pitched roof.

Why It Is A Smart Investment To Replace The Roof With New Solar Panels

Now you may be saying to yourself that potential issues with your roof could be the reason why you wouldn’t look into solar, but on the contrary, when you need a new roof is the best time to consider solar. The reason being is that you will need a new roof regardless of whether or not you put on solar panels, and chances are that you are going to eventually move forward on solar panels sooner or later. So why not put both a new solar panel system with your new roof given that both of those are meant to have a lifespan of at least 25 years.

Otherwise, you’ll eventually cross the bridge of having to remove the panels so you can replace the roof, and nobody wants to do that since it is literally throwing good money away.

If you happen to be thinking about how much work you’ll have to put in to get the best deal, find the right contractors and then sit through all those presentations pitching you on buying solar panels and a new roof, think again. We invented DroneQuote for the specific reason of avoiding all the song and dance that go with the old way of getting quotes while trying to avoid getting sold. Our team of professional solar panel and roofing experts are here to help walk you through understanding how to make the best buying decision if you are in the market for solar panels or roofing. Give us a call or start here by requesting an appointment with us, which takes place at your convenience and with a brief online presentation. We pride ourselves in being your partners in the process to help you buy because nobody likes being sold.


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