Can you replace — or repair — your roof after going solar?
Can you replace — or repair — your roof after going solar?
Solar panels are a long-term investment — they'll sit on your roof for 25 to 30 years. At some point during that time, you may need to repair — or even replace — all or part of your roof. But what does this mean for your solar panels?
If your solar panels are still within their operating life, you don't need to buy new ones to match your new roof. You can remove the panels and reinstall them after your new roof has been fitted. Here's a closer look at how this works.
Different scenarios for roof replacements with solar panels
The good news: You have flexibility when it comes to roof replacements and solar panels. But each scenarios has different considerations.
Should you replace your roof before going solar?
All roofs age differently depending on the roofing material, the weather conditions, and the original quality of the installation. But as a general rule of thumb, if your roof is less than 15 years old, you shouldn't have to replace it before installing solar panels. Even roofs older than 15 years don't always need to be replaced before solar.
That said, you should get a roof inspection before going solar. The inspector, typically a solar installer, will thoroughly check your roof for any signs of damage or weakness that will need repairing ahead of the installation.
Following an inspection, an installer may recommend fixing areas of your roof or replacing it altogether. If your roof needs replacing imminently or within a few years, consider doing this before installing solar panels. You'll avoid the extra costs involved in removing and replacing panels later, saving money down the line.
If you're not ready to replace your entire roof, you can replace only the part that will have panels on top. This approach can come with additional costs and considerations, however. For example, you may not be able to match the new roofing materials to your existing roof. You may miss out on bulk discounts for material and labor that you might get with a full roof replacement. Your roof will also have an uneven lifespan, increasing the odds that you'll need to replace another part of it later.
Can you replace your roof and install solar at the same time?
Yes! If you're already replacing your roof, then you won't have to spend extra time and money to take down and reinstall your solar panels after. You'll simply install them after the new roof is complete. If you install solar at the same time your replace your roof, the lifespan of your roof and panels will align. This reduces the likelihood that you'll have to replace your roof while your solar panels are still on top.
It's also much easier to manage one project covering both your roof and solar installation. By tackling both at the same time, you minimize disruption to your home, family, and neighbors. The roofing company and solar installer can also work together to resolve any issues on the spot. You won't have to play the middleman.
What happens if you need to replace your roof after going solar?
First of all, don't worry — you can replace your roof if you already have solar panels. You'll just need to remove your panels, then reinstall them on your new roof. Removing the panels will take about a day, and replacing them may take another day, adding two days to your overall roof replacement project. You won't be able to generate any solar power during this time. If possible (and if your local climate allows!), you can try to schedule your roof replacement for a time when solar generation will be lower, like the winter.
Considerations for replacing your roof after solar panels
While replacing your roof with solar is certainly possible, you should be aware of a few additional considerations.
Cost for replacing a roof with solar panels on top
Replacing a roof that has solar panels does involve extra work, which means a higher total cost. On average, it costs between $1,500 and $6,000 to remove and reinstall solar panels. The final price depends on a number of variables, including how many panels need removing and whether you need somewhere to store them. This is in addition to the cost of the roof replacement itself, which tends to be about $10,000.
Who can replace your roof with solar panels
To remove and replace solar panels, it's definitely worth going back to your original solar installer. They'll already be familiar with your project and will have the expertise to remove and reinstall your panels without incurring any damage. If this isn't possible, you'll need to find a new solar installer. Look for a reputable company with positive customer reviews and a strong track record in your area. They may also be able to recommend a roofer that they've worked with previously.
You can reinstall your original solar panels once your new roof is on. You should also be able to use the original mounting equipment, such as the bracket, but it's worth double checking this with your roofer and solar installer. Occasionally, your new roofing material may not be compatible with the original mounting equipment.
Your solar panel warranties
Once your installer removes your solar panels, it usually voids the panel manufacturer's warranty. This means that if something goes wrong in the future, you'll have to cover the costs yourself. Thankfully, solar panels are designed to be exposed to the elements for several decades, so it's rare for panels to incur much damage or to need replacing.
Adding solar to your roof can sometimes void an existing roof warranty, even though solar rarely causes any roofing issues. For this reason, many solar companies provide a roof warranty for the part of your roof that has the panels on top. These tend to last for about 10 years or so.
Replacing a roof with solar panels is definitely doable, but it's a complex home building project that requires specialist expertise. By starting with a trusted solar panel manufacturer and a high-quality solar installer, you'll be ahead of the game. Check out Panasonic's resource hub to learn more about their solar solutions and find a qualified installer near you.