Please, save yourself the headache and expense. Have your roof inspected before installing solar!
Too many solar owners end up paying $5 – 10,000 to remove and reinstall their racking, panels and wiring, then spend 1000’s more to repair their roof.
A solar system will last 30+ years, so having the best possible foundation to install on will greatly impact the longevity of that system. And the good news is that a solar array will actually provide protection to the section of the roof over which the system is installed.
This is because the panel shaded portions will remain cooler and receive shelter from UV, rain, snow, hail or ice. Kind of like having a roof over the roof!
If the choice is made to proceed with installing solar without roof repairs, at least the existing roof will not degrade as quickly beneath the panels. However, this would only delay the inevitable. Not recommended.
The only positive spin would be, if you need to remove your panels in the future, it could be considered an opportunity to upgrade to panels with fresh 30 year warranty and production guarantees. Perhaps the family has grown, business expanded, or an electrical vehicle fleet has been added.
Simply by changing the existing panels to those of higher efficiency could add 200+ % to the solar system electricity production. It would be necessary to check with the utility to ensure that a more powerful solar system is allowed under their regulations. Further upgrades would be required to the inverter and possibly the main panel.
Some contractor’s roof warranties are voided by the installation of solar, unless completed together. Combining any necessary roof repairs and solar into the same contract can be very attractive. Solar contracts, including roof repairs, can offer financing for up to 30 years, where roofing contractors alone may not.
Flat roofs have a notoriously bad reputation. Generally, this is related to poor initial design or installation, with pooling of water after a rainfall leading to leaks. Proper inspection and, if necessary, repair by a qualified flat roof specialist is essential.
Then recoating as preventative maintenance can be performed without removing the panels. The racking tilts one end of the panel up and away from the flat roof surface, this gives access to get beneath and around panels, including the racking roof attachment points. This work needs to be completed carefully to avoid damaging or fouling panels, or disturbing the electrical wiring beneath.
The best scenario is to always install solar on a new or renewed roof. Solar is a valuable investment which deserves to be installed where it can perform securely year after year with out concerns for the condition of the roof below.