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Interested in Solar Panels? 9 Things to Consider From a Roofing Perspective


June 26, 2020

Solar panels can be a huge benefit to both the environment and your energy bills. Generating your own energy through rooftop solar panels means you’ll pay less for energy every month and also reduce your carbon footprint. It’s potentially a win-win proposition, but there are some things you’ll want to consider before making the decision to install solar panels.

In Michigan, solar panels aren’t as popular as they are in other parts of the country, but they can be a wise investment for many homeowners. Before you spring for solar panel installation on your roof, here are 9 things to consider from a roofing perspective.

1. Roof Condition

The best time to install solar panels on your roof is when your roof is in excellent condition. If your roof needs repairs or even replacement, but you go ahead with the solar panel installation anyway, it’s going to cost you more when you finally make your roof repairs as you’ll have to have the panels removed and then reinstalled. A new or like-new roof is ideal.

2. Roof Size and Shape

A large part of whether your investment in solar panels is wise depends on the size and shape of your roof. If the panels don’t fit, or if your roof has a lot of angles, the discussion may end right here.

3. Roof Orientation

Most solar panel installers say the slopes of your roof should face south in order to generate enough electricity to make the investment worth it. Others say west. During your solar analysis, you’ll learn what is best for your home in your area and whether or not you’re a candidate for solar panels.

4. Sun vs. Shade

This seems obvious, but it’s crucial you thoroughly look at how much sun your solar panels will get. Consider anything that will shade your roof even part of the day, including young trees that may not currently block the sun but will as they mature.

5. Structural Integrity

Solar panels add fairly significant extra weight to your roof. If your roof isn’t strong enough to support the weight, you’ll need to add more support before solar panel installation.

6. Water Runoff

Because your roof is designed to direct water into the gutters and then safely away from your foundation, it’s important to make sure solar panels on your roof won’t get in the way. Racking and harnesses could potentially direct rain and snow where you don’t want it, which could lead to leaks and other serious issues. Proper placement of the solar panels is crucial and your solar company will work with you on that.

7. Severe Weather

Just like any unprotected surface on your home’s exterior, solar panels could be impacted by hail, snow, lightning, fallen branches and other debris. You’ll want to talk to your insurance agent to determine whether or not you need additional coverage.

8. Length of Stay

Installing solar panels can be a great investment, but it will usually take at least five years for you to see a return. If you don’t plan to be in your home that long, the up-front costs may not be worth it.

9. Warranties

Ideally, your shingles warranty would start at around the same time as your solar panels warranty. This is another reason you should take care of any roof repairs or replacement before installing solar panels.

Getting a Solar Panel Installation Analysis

The first step in determining whether installing solar panels makes sense for you is to contact the solar company. While we can definitely help you determine if your roof is capable of having solar panels installed, we don’t do the actual installation. Thus, it makes sense to contact a solar company—almost all will give you a free analysis regarding your roof and potential energy savings—and then proceed accordingly.

The Solar Panel Installation Process

Once you’ve decided to go ahead with putting solar panels on your roof, West Michigan Roofing can help. While we don’t install the solar panels, we do work with the solar company to make sure everything’s in order.

Using a map created by the solar company to show where the feet for the solar panels go, we shingle around the feet. After that, the solar company installs the panels.

Whether you’re having solar panels installed on an existing roof, a new-construction home or as part of a complete roof replacement, we can help. We’ll have the solar map in advance and install your roof accordingly.

If you have any questions regarding solar panels for your roof, feel free to contact us. We’ll make sure you have all the information you need to make the right decision for your home.