How Installing Solar Panels Could Protect Your Roof

Going green? With the growing number of solar installations in the US, many homeowners are. And one of the first questions they ask is whether solar panels will damage their roof.

The short answer is no. Damage to your roof from solar panels is extremely rare when properly installed. But there are some things to know before you make the leap to helping the environment.

In this article, we’ll go over what makes for a proper solar roof installation and common homeowner concerns. Let’s get started.

Solar Rooftop Factors to Consider

There are several factors to consider before having solar panels installed on your roof.

First, know that solar panels usually last for 20-25 years. After that, they’ll generate electricity at a significantly lower rate. But that doesn’t mean they don’t still offer a considerable ROI. Try using Google’s Project Sunroof Savings Estimator to see how much you could save on your energy bill over time. Key factors include how much sunlight hits your roof, electricity rates, and the hardware and installation.

To make sure the installation won’t damage your roof, you’ll want to consider the roof itself – its age, condition, size, and slope. Each will impact how safe it is to install solar panels and whether installing them will void your roof warranty:

  • If your roof is old or in poor condition, installing solar panels could compromise it further. Not to mention, you’d have to remove the panels for any roofing repairs. So the best time to install them is right after getting a new or remodeled roof.
  • If your roof is small, you’ll need to make sure the weight of the panels won’t overload it. Typical solar panels weigh about 4 lbs per square foot.
  • If your roof has a steep slope, you need to ensure it can handle the stress of holding the modules up against gravity.

After assessing your roof, you’ll want to consider the house as a whole. Its height, structure, and seismic and wind load resistance. Most likely, you’ll need a trained professional to do this for you, which brings us to our third consideration.

Hire a reputable solar installation company. Installers should be licensed experts who follow all local building, mechanical, residential, and electrical codes. They’ll most likely also need to get a permit. Before you hire a contractor, make sure you properly research and vet them.

Common Solar Rooftop Concerns

Now let’s dive into the concerns that most homeowners have when installing rooftop solar panels.

Many worry about holes in the roof. It’s true that installing solar panels usually requires drilling into the roof to secure racks that can hold up the solar modules. These holes are for lag bolts that can withstand extreme weather conditions. Once the lag bolts are in place, the holes are sealed with a metal or plastic shield called flashing, which keeps out moisture. This prevents any water damage from developing, including leaks and molding. If done properly, the holes won’t affect the integrity of your roof.

But if you’re still hesitant about drilling holes into your roof, there are some less common alternative installation methods you can look into. These include ballasted modules that use weights to hold down the panels, adhesive modules, flexible thin-film modules, and even draping and wind-harnessing systems.

Finally, some people worry about the weight that solar panels will put on their roof. Since most roofs can hold about 20 lbs per square foot, 4 lbs per square foot solar panels should not be a concern. They weigh far below most roofs’ weight capacity. And in winter, solar panels can even reduce the weight on your roof because their slick surface makes it easier for snow to slide off.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, most solar panel installations won’t damage your roof. In fact, they could help protect it because they provide shade from the sun. This reduces the risk of sun damage like blistering and lowers temperatures inside the house.

On top of that, solar panels could actually increase the value of your house. Studies have shown that they can boost home values by up to 9.9%. So, besides the energy savings and environmental benefits, solar panels add financial value to your roof.

But before installing solar panels on your roof, do your due diligence. Find an experienced professional. And if you have a roof warranty, clear the installation with the roof manufacturer first. Otherwise, you might accidentally void the warranty.

If you follow these sound points of advice, you can be confident that solar panels will enhance your roof, not hurt it.


Tags: house, installation, methods, protect roof, rooftop, solar panels, value

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