Solar panels are an emerging roofing trend, and for many, it’s easy to see why. Here in West Michigan, we often experience bitterly cold winters, and blistering summers. It helps to have a little credit going to those heating and cooling bills in the summer and winter, which is where solar panels come in.
Solar panels have been popular in the US for a while now, but are only recently starting to make it to the Midwest. As they gain popularity, it’s good to know what’s true and what’s not about solar panels. The biggest question asked by homeowners about solar panels is “will solar panels damage my roof?”
Our best answer for you is: no, when installed properly.
Avoiding Roof Damage From Solar Panels
Solar panels aren’t inherently bad for your roof. They are big equipment, though, and can cause damage if they’re not installed properly and on the right types of roof. Two key ways to avoid roof damage from solar panels include:
- Get an Inspection — Not all roofs are right for solar panels. It’s best to have a roof that faces South or West, so you can absorb the most sunlight. You also have to have a roof that’s well set-up for solar panels. They’re a heavy piece of equipment, so if your roof isn’t in good shape, you might not be a good candidate for a solar panel in the first place.
- Choose a Licensed, Verified Installer — Solar panels are relatively new to the roofing world. That means there are plenty of people out there who don’t know how to properly install solar panels. Make sure you’re choosing a licensed, experienced professional, who has installed solar panels (correctly) before. Here are some tips to choosing a roofing contractor you can trust that can also be applied to choosing a solar panel installation professional.
What About the Weight of Solar Panels?
It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that solar panels are heavy. They are serious pieces of equipment, and when you put them on your roof, their weight can add up.
It’s good to know that most sound, well-constructed roofs can handle the weight of a reasonable number of solar panels. Since we live in Michigan, it’s also important to consider the weight of snow accumulation. Fortunately, since most solar panels are installed at an angle, they should encourage snow to slide right off as they heat up throughout the day.
I Heard Solar Panels Put Holes In My Roof?
You may have heard that to install solar panels, some installers put holes in your roof. While this might sound scary, it’s true and fairly safe.
To install solar panels that are safe and secure, professionals must install specialized hardware called racking. Racking is what holds the solar panels in place and is strong enough to withstand severe weather conditions like high winds and heavy snows. Racking is attached to your roof with lag bolts, which secure the solar panels to your roof trusses.
Lag bolts are bolted through your roof, creating holes, but they’re also covered quickly with a layer of flashing and sealant that will keep out any water that tries to creep in. The entire solar panel installation process includes a weather sealant step, which keeps out water, snow, and ice from the entire group of panels, adding another extra layer of protection from the elements.
In Some Ways, Solar Panels Can Help Protect Roofs
Believe it or not, solar panels can offer your roof a few benefits. Since they’re installed on top of your roof, they absorb much of the sunlight, water, wind, and ice before it hits your roof. This helps keep your home cool in the summer and can extend your roofs’ life, simply because it’s shaded by the solar panels.
In the end, when installed properly, solar panels will not damage your roof. Best of all, solar panels can help you save money on those hefty utility bills in the heat of summer and dead of winter. You can also feel good about using a clean, renewable energy source that doesn’t harm the environment.
If you’re worried about damage to your roof, from solar panels or otherwise, contact the experts at Werner Roofing. We’re happy to help with any repairs and can give you a free estimate before we begin our work. We’re also happy to come out and give your roof an inspection to let you know what condition it’s in before you consider whether solar panels are right for you. Give us a call at 616-844-5382 or contact us online to schedule your inspection today!