Last updated on October 31st, 2019
Thinking about replacing your roof with solar panels? These are the important things to consider along the way.
Replacing Your Roof with Solar Panels: What Are Your Options?
Have you finally decided to switch to solar with your home? Not only are solar panels environmentally friendly, but you can also save on your electricity bill.
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You might be wondering about the options you have when replacing roof with solar panels. We’re here to help you figure it all out.
There are a few things that you need to take into consideration before you go on to replace your roof with solar panels. Assess the condition of your roof, look into the different solar options, and don’t forget to do a proper cost analysis beforehand.
This may seem like a lot, but don’t stress out. We’ll run you through the details, step by step.
The Condition of Your Roof
Does your roof need to be replaced just because you’re switching to solar? Well, not really. But if you look at it more logically, it’s better to assess the condition of your roof before you make any decisions.
It’ll save you a whole lot of trouble and money.
As long as there is enough sunlight and space, solar panels can be installed on almost any roof. The average solar panel weighs around 40 lbs.
However, if your roof is too weak or damaged, it may end up slumping under the weight of the panels.
Your roof may seem like just a collection of shingles and tiles, but the structure is way more complicated than that. Your roof is made up of multiple layers that all help insulate and cover your house.
Generally, a typical roof is made of:
- Roof truss
- Ice and water barrier
- Shingles or tiles
- Wooden frame
If any of these components are damaged, it will affect the whole structure of your roof. So, how does one know if the roof is damaged?
The signs are all there on your roof, you just need to look for them.
How to Check the Condition of Your Roof?
Hold on a second. Don’t climb up that ladder just yet. There are few things you can check without bringing the ladder out from your garage. First, inspect from inside the attic and ceiling walls for any leaks or stains.
If your electricity bill has recently gone up, chances it may have been caused by excessive ventilation.
Some of the common ways roofs get damaged are:
- Broken or Loose Tiles
- Water Damage
- Punctures and Cracks
- Damage to the Structure
- Worn Down Materials
Do look around to see if you can find any of these damages on your roof. If you spot one, a roof inspection by a professional might be a good option.
See Related: Should You Buy or Lease Your Solar Panels?
Replacing Roof with Solar Panels: Money Matters
Imagine for a minute that you’ve already installed solar panels without changing your roof, and suddenly after some time, your roof starts sagging.
Not only will you have to pay an additional price for removing and then reinstalling the panels, but you might even risk damaging your solar panels in the whole process.
Plus, while the panels are off, you won’t be generating any electricity. This means your electricity bill will also go up during this period.
So, while replacing roof with solar panels may seem quite costly initially, but in the long run, it’s saving you from a lot of trouble. There are plenty of different solar panel funding options, which will make your decision a bit easier.
You can find an option that makes the most sense for you.
We also suggest you sit down and do a cost analysis before you call in the solar/roof installation team. This will help you get a better idea of how much it will cost and how beneficial it will be for you in the long run.
Why is it Better to Replace Your Roof Before Installing Solar Panels?
At this point, we have established that replacing a roof can be quite expensive. However, it is a better option. It’s a one time expense which will save you in the future.
The insulation of your house depends on your roof. So, if you need to turn up the AC in the summers or increase the heat during the winters more often, then it means your roof isn’t able to insulate properly.
Moreover, a new roof will raise the value of your home. Don’t worry about spending too much money on it because if you choose to sell, the money will return to you.
Will Solar Companies Replace Your Roof?
Hunting for a roofing company and a separate company for solar panel installation is just going to be additional work.
We’ll let you in on a little secret. You can save yourself from putting in the extra effort by simply going for a company that does both. Yes, you read that right. Some companies offer services that install solar panels and replace roofs.
A free roof replacement with solar panels would be a dream come true, this isn’t possible in most cases. However, getting the same company to do both tasks does lower the costs.
For instance, Semper Solaris offers roof replacements along with solar installation with significant cost savings. They provide clients with financing options to make the installation of solar panels on a flat roof more affordable.
Different Ways to Replace Your Roof With Solar Panels
If you’re already considering re-roofing might as well looking into solar shingles or building photovoltaics (BIVP).
Offered by companies like Tesla and Certainteed, solar shingles replace the roofing material, so you’re literally replacing your roof with solar panels.
While it may seem like you’re getting a free roof with solar panels, this isn’t the case since solar singles have a high price tag in comparison to other rooftop solar panels.
We’ll be discussing different companies that manufacture shingles, along with their general pros and cons.
Tesla Solar Roof
The Tesla Solar Roof is a glass-faced solar tile with water transfer printing, which gives the tile an appearance similar to that of clay, slate, or shingle. The glass layer of the panel comprises louvers, which allow light to enter the tile from above. For people walking down the streets, the shingles will appear to have patterned designs. If nobody tells you, you probably won’t realize the roof is made of solar tiles.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that every tile is a solar tile. Tesla takes an estimate of your system, so it produces no more than 100% of your average annual power use. In order to maintain consistency, the rest of the roof is covered with non-photovoltaic tiles.
The price of the Tesla roof is quite high when compared to the costs of reroofing and solar installation.
If you don’t really require a roof replacement, the Tesla costs a lot more than a standalone solar photovoltaic system.
CertainTeed Apollo II
The Apollo II sits flush against your roof. Unlike traditional solar panels that are installed several inches above your roof, the Apollo II is installed almost directly onto your roof with its proprietary racking system.
This gives the Apollo II a smooth and low profile, so it appears as if it’s integrated with the roof.
On the downside, the Apollo II shingles are around 70% as energy-dense as your conventional solar panels. The average solar system generates around 0.112 watts per square inch, while the Apollo shingles generate a total of only 0.078 watts per square inch.
With a mechanical load of around 250 pounds per square foot, Apollo II shingles can hold up against heavy storms and hail.
The shingles come with a 25-year power warranty and a 10-year product warranty.
See Related: Top Solar Panel Monitoring Systems
SunTegra Tile and Shingle
SunTegra offers its clients two solar products; solar shingles and solar tiles. The former can be installed on top of your existing roof, while the latter serves as a replacement for concrete tiles. Since they don’t offer a non-photovoltaic option, they are integrated with conventional shingles and tiles.
An interesting feature on the Shingles is the air channels that are attached to the back of the panels to keep them cooler.
This feature is unique to SunTegra and improves the efficiency of the shingles. Furthermore, they’re very low profile and are easy to integrate into your existing roof.
Moreover, SunTegra panels have monocrystalline cells and a peak output of 100-110 watts. They come with a 25-year power warranty and a 10-year product warranty.
Are Solar Shingles Better than Solar Panels?
The main reason why people are more interested in solar shingles than solar panels is that shingles look more aesthetically pleasing. They definitely give your roof a nicer look, but are they really better than traditional solar panels? Let’s assess the situation:
- Look more aesthetic
- Have a higher home value
- Less efficient in comparison to conventional panels
- Higher module temperatures
- Only a few contractors offer this option
It is apparent that solar shingles have quite a few drawbacks.
See Related: Best Solar Inverters
Conventional Alternatives to Solar Shingles
If aesthetics is what draws you towards shingles, well, a few different choices can give the conventional solar panels a better look. You can opt for standard solar panels that are sleeker and don’t stand out too much.
The plus point of doing this is that since the product is more mainstream, you’ll have a lot of options to choose from.
Here are some of the factors that you may want to look into to make your panels look more aesthetic:
- Color of the back sheet, the layer of the silicon cells
- Check to see if polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon is used
- Color of the frame, or if the panels are frameless
Conclusion on Replacing Your Roof with Solar
Switching to solar is a wise decision. However, it’s something that you need to think and plan before diving into it. You probably won’t find this during your research on solar panels, but roofs play a very important role when switching to solar.
The roof is the best and most common location to install panels. If your roof isn’t strong enough to handle the load, it’s best to replace it.
Another option to look at are solar shingles. While you might have to squeeze a little extra money for replacing your roof with solar panels, solar shingles lack efficiency in comparison.
We suggest you weigh all your options and then decide which route is best to take.