Solar panel systems will typically last around 30 to 35 years – and in that time, your solar panels will generate plenty of savings on your electric bills! These systems have very long lives, which leaves many homeowners wondering about the impact they will have on their roofs: how will the roof hold up over time? What happens if you have to replace your roof after installing solar? Should you just replace your roof at the same time you install solar panels? In this article, we’ll explain what you need to know about replacing your roof when going solar.
If your roof is between five and 10 years from needing replacement, you should have it assessed to determine if it should be replaced before installing solar.
If you need to replace your roof after you install solar panels, expect solar panel removal and reinstallation to cost about $1,500 – $6,000.
Roofs and solar energy systems have similar lifespans, so in most scenarios going solar will still be worth it if you need to re-roof.
Check out the EnergySage Marketplace to receive custom quotes from solar installers.
What’s in this article?
Should you replace your roof before installing solar panels?
Before you install solar panels, consider requesting a roof inspection to make sure it can withstand installation, especially if the roof is towards the end of its life. If your roof is between five and 10 years from needing replacement, it’s a good idea to get an expert out there to assess.
Most solar companies don’t offer roofing services, although there are some exceptions. Either way, roof work is commonly performed alongside a solar installation and your solar contractor likely has good referrals for roofers in your area – they may even be able to get you a discount on your roof replacement.
If your installer determines that your roof should be replaced prior to going solar, it’s a smart move to do so. Solar panels are more durable than most roofing materials – so, when you pair solar with a roofing installation, the panels actually extend the lifetime of the portion of the roof that they cover.
The other benefit of pairing solar and a roof replacement together is that if you’re installing on a new roof, it’s unlikely you’ll need to re-roof during the lifetime of the system. This can help save you money in the long run because you’ll avoid the costs associated with removing and reinstalling the solar panels on your roof.
How much does a roof replacement and solar panel installation cost?
In the case that you do need to replace your roof prior to installing solar panels, you’re likely wondering how much your solar panel installation will cost. The average cost to install a new solar system in 2022 is $20,000 before rebates and incentives (like the federal tax credit), based on EnergySage Marketplace data. The average cost to replace a roof is about $10,000, according to This Old House. Therefore, you can expect an average new solar system installation and roof replacement to cost about $30,000. However, you may be able to knock a significant amount off of that price if you opt to combine the two larger costs. You can save up to 30 percent off of your new solar system with the federal tax credit and may be able to receive discounts on the roofing costs if your local roofing contractors or solar installers have partnership agreements to offer customer discounts.
How much does it cost to remove solar panels to replace your roof?
If you run into a roofing issue and need to replace your roof post-installation, there will be labor costs associated with taking the panels off your roof and putting them back on. Unfortunately, it’s hard to give specifics on the costs associated with this labor, as it can vary greatly. Installers will have different rates for their labor and the cost can also vary based on the size of the system, how many panels will need to be removed, and whether you need a place to store the equipment.
If mounting hardware also needs to be removed in order to replace your roof, this will add onto the cost. On average, residential installations tend to cost somewhere between $1,500 to $6,000 to remove and reinstall. (This is not inclusive of the cost required to replace your actual roof.)
For this type of work, it’s common to return to your original solar installer for the labor – they’ll be most familiar with the ins and outs of your particular system installation. Regardless, if you’d prefer to not use that installer, there are many solar companies that provide operations and maintenance services for installations that aren’t their own.
If re-roofing post-installation is a concern for you, it’s always good to ask your potential installer how often they do this type of work, and the typical cost associated with it. Some companies will actually specify a price for this in your initial contract, and it never hurts to request this from your company prior to installation.
Do solar installation warranties cover the roof?
Roofing issues caused during the installation process or overtime are uncommon, but many solar installation companies often have warranty coverage for your roof where the panels are located in case you need a roof repair. Many companies do this because it’s common for existing roofing warranties to become void if you’re installing solar, at least for the portion of the roof where your system is installed.
The typical duration of this type of warranty is 10 years, but it can vary from company to company. Before you sign a contract, confirm with your installation company whether they warranty the roof and the duration of that warranty.
Should you install a solar roof?
Solar shingles or building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), like the technology offered by Certainteed or Tesla, are certainly more attractive if you have to re-roof. The solar tiles or shingles will replace the roofing material itself, so you won’t need to spend money on both and can still generate savings on electricity.
Having said that, depending on your roof needs, a solar shingle roof isn’t always the best option. There are relatively few contractors with the necessary certifications and they come with a high price tag, especially compared to standard rooftop solar. Not only is the technology more expensive – solar shingles in the past have lower energy efficiency than traditional panels, meaning that you need a much larger area covered to generate the same amount of electricity. If you’re going to replace your roof prior to an installation, solar shingles are going to become a bit more competitive in pricing, but they’ll still likely be a higher upfront cost than installing a traditional roof and solar panels on top of it.
Is going solar still worth it if you need to replace your roof?
An average solar installation will save homeowners tens of thousands of dollars on utility bills over its lifetime while generating clean, renewable energy! Re-roofing costs can be high, but the savings of using solar power should make up for it in the long term, especially with rising energy costs – and there’s no better time to evaluate solar if you were planning on re-roofing anyway (those panels love new roofs!). Many homeowners find that they receive discounted rates from roofing companies that have existing partnerships with solar companies, and you could save as much as 30 percent on roofing costs if you replace your roof and install solar at the same time.
If you think that you might be moving in the future, you might be worried about putting money into a new roof and a solar system. But that shouldn’t be a concern: if you go solar at the same time as replacing your roof, you’ll also likely increase your home’s resale value. A new roof already improves the value of your home, and many homebuyers are looking for electric and environmentally friendly homes, making your solar system very attractive!
Start shopping for solar today
If there’s a potential solar installation on your horizon, try out our Solar Calculator to get an estimate of potential costs and savings, or use the EnergySage Marketplace to get competitive quotes for solar installations from local and certified installation companies specific to your home. If your roof is on the older end, you can note this in your account. EnergySage installers can give you advice on potential roofers to contact, or sometimes even do the work themselves.