What Type of Roofing Is Best for Solar Panels?
If you’re one of the millions of homeowners replacing a roof, you might want to consider adding solar panels at the same time. A roof replacement with solar panels can reduce your utility bill significantly. And you can find partnerships between roofing and solar panel installers that will greatly reduce the roof replacement cost.
Besides these cost savings, there are several other benefits, including:
- Installing solar panels on your roof helps the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Rooftop solar panels typically cost less than ground-mounted systems and don’t take up valuable real estate on your property.
- A home with solar panels usually sells up to 20% faster than those without them.
Choosing a roof replacement with solar panels is smart, but what type of roofing is best for solar panels? We’ll discuss this topic in more detail below.
Types of Roofing Materials That Are Good for Solar Panels
Finding the best type of roofing materials to install solar panels on will depend on your situation. The following factors play a significant role:
- How much you want to spend
- Aesthetic preference
- Where you live
Now let's break down which types of roofing materials work best for solar panels:
Asphalt roofing is the most common roofing material in America and is usually the most affordable option. Solar panels last about 25 to 30 years, so you’ll want to choose a higher-quality asphalt shingle that reaches the lifespan of the solar panels. (You may only get up to 12 years from a low-grade asphalt shingle roof, so if the solar panels last longer than your roof, you’ll have to replace the entire solar panel system too.)
Metal roofs can last decades longer than solar panels, which can give any homeowner peace of mind when it’s time to replace the solar panels. So if you’re upgrading your home, we recommend choosing a metal roof replacement with solar panels. Metal roofs are strong enough to support the solar array, panels, mounting rack, and hardware. Of course, not all solar installers are familiar with metal roofs, so it’s a good idea to speak with a metal roofing expert who can point you in the right direction.
Metal roofs aren’t just strong; they’re lightweight too, which gives them an advantage over asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles are heavy and, when combined with the weight of a solar panel, may cause problems. Metal roofs can easily support solar panels and don't add too much additional weight.
Other Roof Materials
Tile roofs are aesthetically pleasing, but while you can have solar panels installed on them, it’s a bit more complicated. You should expect to pay more for labor because some tiles may have to be removed to make way for a mounting foot and flashing. Not all solar installers are familiar with working on tile roofs, so make sure to make inquiries before installing solar panels with a tile roof.
Wood shingles may not be the best choice for solar panels. Wood shingles are fragile and have a higher risk of catching fire. If your home has a wood shingle roof and you want to go solar, consider a roof replacement with solar panels using one of the other options detailed above.
Maintaining Your Roof When You Have Solar Panels
You can maximize your investment by keeping the solar panels clean. Making sure they're free of dust and other debris will help them generate power efficiently. Many solar companies recommend cleaning your solar panels twice a year to keep them at peak performance, no matter what kind of climate you live in. The more time between cleanings, the more the dirt builds up, and the less efficiently the panels will work.
The best way to maintain solar panels is by spraying them with a water hose. But before you do, make sure to do it at a time of day when the panels have cooled down.
Repairing a Roof With Solar Panels
Repairing a roof with solar panels brings a unique set of challenges and important considerations. While solar panels are intended to be resilient and long-lasting, the need for roof repairs might still occur because of weather damage, wear, and strain, or unexpected incidents. It's critical to approach the repair procedure cautiously and with a full understanding of the connection between the roofing system and the paneling.
The first step in repairing a roof with solar panels is determining the degree of the damage. If the damage is restricted to the roofing material, repairs may be accomplished without harming the solar panels. However, if the panels are also damaged or have shifted, specialized care is required.
It is best to consult experts who have knowledge of both solar panel systems and roofing that can offer a professional assessment of the problem at hand, ensuring that repairs are made correctly and that the integrity of the solar panel is maintained. Because working around solar panels entails handling electrical components, safety precautions must be given first priority.
Solar panel removal and installation for roof repairs require careful planning. It's essential to remove items in the right order and sequence to prevent further damage.
Solar panels must be carefully replaced once the roof has been repaired. For the panels to operate effectively and in accordance with safety regulations, the wiring must be properly aligned, sealed, and reconnected.
Homeowners must also consider the potential impact on warranties. Many solar panel manufacturers offer warranties that cover both the panels and their installation. Performing repairs without professional assistance could potentially void these warranties.
A solar roof is good for the environment and can be good for your bottom line. You can choose from several types of roofing materials that work well with solar panels, depending on your situation and preferences, including asphalt, metal, and tile, with metal being our best recommendation. But above all, if you need to upgrade your existing roof to install solar, be sure to go with high-quality roofing materials.
Bio: Shannon McCord is a licensed home builder and has completed over 1000 roofing projects, with over 25 years of building experience. Prior to starting Roofing World, Shannon was a community housing developer. Shannon is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a degree in Engineering and Marketing.