Are Solar Panels Bad for Your Roof?

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Over the course of its lifecycle, a solar panel system for your home can save you an estimated $10,000 to $30,000 in electricity costs. Using the sun’s natural energy to generate power is a more sustainable option than most emissions-releasing power plants. But is it safe to install solar panels on your roof, or is it harmful?
Installing solar panels is typically a safe process that requires very little maintenance. The cost of sunlight isn’t going up anytime soon, so your energy consumption isn’t going to cost more in the future. But there are certain concerns that should be addressed if you are looking into solar power for your home.

Some Roofs Can’t Support Solar

For some roofs, installing solar panels doesn’t work or doesn’t make sense. They need full sun for several hours a day to be beneficial. If your home’s roof is shaded for a good part of the day or is extremely steep-pitched, or if there are valleys, peaks, and gables everywhere, it might not be a good candidate for solar installation.
A roof on an older home might not be able to support the added weight without major reinforcement. And other roofs, like slate or cedar shake roofs, are more delicate and could be damaged during installation.

Solar Panels Can Help Protect Your Roof

For some installations, solar panels actually help protect the material on the roof. Age and weather wear cause asphalt shingles to curl, and a system of solar panels can reduce the effect of weathering by protecting shingles from the sun.
Also, for areas prone to hail and high winds, solar panels hold roof materials down in place and better protect it from the elements, although the solar panels themselves are then exposed to damage.

Proper Installation is Paramount

As with any major utility installation or upgrade, how well your roof performs with a solar panel system depends on the quality of workmanship. Most systems are either installed using a weighted ballast or racks fastened to your roof joists through the roof. High-quality installers who use racks may be putting holes in the roof, but a trusted installer will seal everything to prevent water infiltration. Weighted ballasts often don’t require any holes in the roof at all.
With the proper installation, there’s no reason that solar panels will damage your roof.

Solar Panels Could Impede Future Repairs

The average solar panel array will last 25 to 30 years. Asphalt shingles generally need to be replaced every 20 years, meaning the solar panels will be in the way when it’s time to replace the roof for maintenance.
It’s best to install solar panels on a roof that’s less than five years old. That way there is much less of a concern about replacing the roof soon after solar panels are mounted. In fact, some companies won’t install panels unless the roof is new or nearly new.

Understand the Warranty Implications

Will solar panel installation void the warranty on you home or your roof? On the portion of the roof that has solar panels, that could be true. In some cases, it won’t void the warranty but it could add to any costs if it impedes repairs that you’re claiming under warranty.
Even though most solar panel installations include drilling into your roof, they won’t damage your roof if they are installed well. Your best bet? Ensure your home is well protected with comprehensive home insurance just in case.

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