‘If you’re going to do a job do it right’ is a common phrase we hear bounced around. So what if you’re seriously considering installing solar panels on your roof? Should you upgrade and replace your entire roof too while you’re at it?
The honest and simple answer is no, you’re not absolutely required to install a whole new roof on your home merely because you’re installing solar panels.
…But… the age, condition and cost of your roof might actually sway you to committing to a new roof replacement as well as solar panels.
Solar panels aren’t particularly weighty items, only weighing in at an average of 40lb which translates to 4lb per square foot. That being said, as time goes on solar panels can cause a weak or damaged roof to sag. This can result in cracks and leaks that lead on to unpleasant problems like dry rot.
In general, if your roof is less than 12 years old it should live to see a few more years and serve your home well in that time. If your roof is any older than that it’s worthwhile contacting a professional roofing company to inspect it.
The roofing contractor will most likely ask you how long you’ve lived in the house and if you know when the roof was originally fitted. Don’t worry if you don’t know, a reputable and experienced roofing professional will be able to deduce the age of your roof from the material style used to construct it. Once the roofing contractor knows the age of the roof they can identify if the roof is in good nick and how long it is likely to last.
If you spot either leaks or stains on your attic ceiling or walls and/or dark ‘mucky’ looking spots and damp on the roof and notice energy costs that are higher than usual, which could be signs of poor ventilation, your roof is not in very good shape.
As we said above, a weak roof is not ideal if you’re installing solar panels. A well-seasoned qualified roofing expert will be able to see features such as missing, cracked or curling shingles which dimish the overall state of the roof. Shingles are usually flat and rectangular fitting from the edge of the roof upwards, each course overlapping the joints below.
Not everyone is made of money and switching to solar panels is not only a smart decision ecologically but financially too. On average, despite cuts to the Government’s Feed-In Tariff, solar panels will deliver earnings and savings of about £8,080 over two decades.
Switching to solar panels is an investment. Not only does it get your home in the environment’s good books, it cuts your energy bills considerably. Solar panels may save you significant amounts in the long run but their upkeep can be costly. In a solar PV system, if just one solar panel goes out, the production of energy the system produces may suffer by up to 25%.
It would be a nightmare if you didn’t replace your roof if it was old or had seen better days before installing your solar panels, only to have to remove the solar panels to replace your deteriorating roof in a few years time, having to re-foot the initially expensive bill of installing solar panels again. Plus, once the solar panels are removed your home will stop generating power so your electric bill will increase until they are re-fitted and turned back on.
Many solar panels come with a warranty of up to 25 years and are specially built to withstand lots of harsh weather conditions but it’s always better to be safer than sorry and replace your roof if it shows any sign of decline before going solar.
The majority of solar companies will refer reliable roofing contractors that offer free estimates so you don’t have to fund the additional roof inspection cost. If money is still a worry but you know your roof still needs some repairs there is always an option to replace the roof directly below where your panels are intended to be fitted.