Just like a Roth IRA or a 401K, solar panels are an investment and need asset protection. Some panels have been cited to take four to twenty years to pay themselves off, which means you can’t afford to lose these panels and need them to function at their highest capacity 24/7 (or however long the sun is up.) It can be tricky to work around the options of cost effective, stylish, and secure. In order to save you the trouble of doing all the research, here are a few tips on what strategies work best for your roof to support your solar panels.
Time To Whip Out That Old Blueprint
We are not really sure how many people actually hold onto their home blueprints, but now would be the time to bring them back out again. The very first step of installing solar panels is to check the integrity of the building and how is the roof going to hold up? This includes how old the building is, what type of material are the rafters made of and how can splitting be avoided? It is also essential to know the condition of the underlayment because of the critical role it plays in waterproofing. We recommend that you look to the future of your home and think, “what could go wrong?” All the preparation you do should be done towards preventing the future hassle of fixing preventable problems. One specific recommendation from the company Spice Solar is the use of flashings, especially with shingled roofs. Using permanent anchors gives you fall protection and saves the headache of future maintenance.
As a word of caution, many of the solar installers are not roofers and lack some of the essential knowledge in dealing with your roof. With composition shingles, be sure to get ahold of your roofer to find out who built it and who manufactured the shingles. Some roofing companies may be skeptical about solar panels with particular shingles and it will be worth the call with their expertise. With most of the installers lacking experience with roofs, they are most likely going to start drilling away at your roof until they find a rafter, and will end up plugging up holes along the way. Professional roofers can help them to find the dead center of your rafters which promises a much more secure installation. Another helpful piece of information is what temperature the shingles were manufactured to withstand. Some summers bring roofs to a temperature between 150-200 degrees, which calls for the correct sealant service at the right temperature. As you can probably tell, just getting even the sealant part right can have a drastic effect on the integrity of your solar panel protection.
Well the good news with tile roofs is that they don’t need to be completely redone for solar panels anymore. A popular solution came with the approach of using hooks that drilled into the roof depending of course on the size and style of your shingles. The bad news is that, as you probably already well know, tiles break easily and you may need to have a few extra on hand along with keeping the crew on the roof for a minimum amount of time. Professional roofers can also perform a “strip and go” method where the tiles are removed from the solar section and replaced with asphalt shingles. Again the choice is really up to you and whatever your preferences may be.
Slate is another story, and unlike tiles, hasn’t seen success with any hooks due to the sleek design that goes flush with the sheeting or underlayment. Two viable options are to either replace the slate with shingles and then cover the shingles with the panel (which would make the shingles unnoticeable), or to place standoffs and flashings around the slate where the panel will be placed. The latter is more expensive, but of course looks a tad more appealing to most.
If you have a metal roof, go ahead and pat yourself on the back. It is obviously one of the longest lasting materials for roofing and is quite simple to work with concerning solar installation. Make sure that your installers use compression fit sealing instead of making holes in the roof, and you are set to go without any foreseeable re-roofing.