Roof Replacement and Solar Systems

Roofing and Solar Together

You most likeyThe explosion of rooftop residential solar industry is nothing less than a revolution.  This new model of power generation is putting control in the hands of customers, saving consumers considerable amounts money, and contributing to a substantial reduction in the carbon footprint of many households.

Nothing in the last 100 years has had a bigger impact on the roofing industry that the rapid expansion of cost-effective rooftop solar energy.  Since rooftop installations are by far the most common type of solar system for residential properties, this growth presents new challenges to homeowners and contractors alike when considering when to replace a roof that will receive a roof solar system.

The cost of a solar system by itself can be considerable.  Even with federal and state subsidies, the break-even period for a new residential solar investment is usually measured in years.  Because of this, many homeowners wonder if it is required to replace their roof at the time of solar installation, or if they can save money by delaying a roof replacement until it’s absolutely necessary.  In this article, we will discuss some of the considerations that can help a homeowner make an educated decision on this topic.

Ultimately, what a homeowner wants to avoid is going through the time and expense of installing a custom roof solar system, and having to remove and reinstall the whole system a few months or years later because the roof is leaking.  Also, most homeowners should know that drilling potentially 50 or more holes into an old roof can make diagnosing a leak very challenging for even the most experienced roofer.

Solar panel technician needs to drill to install solar systems on your roof. This may cancel your roof warranty

Solar panel technician needs to drill to install solar systems on your roof. This may cancel your roof warranty


When a homeowner is thinking about this, the first question that they ask is:

How long does a roof last?

This is a complicated question because there are many factors to consider.  Older shingles were usually designed to last from 15 to 30 years.  If a roof was installed properly, it should last for the duration of the shingle.  In the real world this is rarely the case.  We could write and entire article on this, but there are a few basic questions that everyone can ask.

How old is my roof?

If the roof is more than 10 years old, it should at least be evaluated by a roofer prior to solar.  Solar companies are look for different things than we do when examining at a roof.  They want to know if the home can support the weight of a system and that the sun angle is ideal.  We want to tell you how long you can go before the roof will give you problems.  If you have any doubts, call a licensed roofer.

How many layers of shingles are on my roof now?

If there is more than one layer now and the top layer is over 7 years old, you should replace the roof prior to installing solar.  The lifespan of a shingle is much shorter when its installed overtop of another shingle.  In addition, the flashings and other key areas are usually untouched when a second or third layer are put down.  This means that the most important parts of the roof are usually much older than they appear.

Has the roof needed service before?

If a roof has leaked before, or required service for blow offs, etc. in the past, it will most likely need service again soon.  Servicing certain areas of a roof can become almost impossible with a solar array installed.  Sometimes we need to remove a panel simply to diagnose an issue.  This can void a solar warranty, so the solar company needs to come out.  If your roof is leaking, you generally don’t want to wait to coordinate multiple contractors just to stop the damage from getting worse.

Coordinate Roof Replacement Contractor and Solar System Installer

Coordinate Roof Replacement Contractor and Solar System Installer


Instead of asking “do I have to replace my roof before solar?”, we think homeowners  should also ask themselves: “Do I want to replace my roof before solar?  There are real benefits to doing these projects at the same time.

It’s Cheaper

The most obvious benefit to doing a roof at the same time is that it is less expensive.  A complete solar array and all of the required mounts do not need to be removed and reinstalled.  We have seen solar companies charge as little as $500 to do this for a small system that was recently installed.  Unfortunately, we have also seen bills in excess of $5,000 for larger, more complex systems that were no longer covered by the original warranty.  This can be a big expense, especially if you aren’t expecting it.

You Get a Better Roof

Don’t forget that by doing roof and solar together you can actually get a better roof on your home.  When a roofing contractor can work with a solar designer, we can reinforce the areas of the roof that tend to be leak prone.  One example of this is the installation of an extra layer of leak barrier at the solar mount locations.  The cost to do this is minimal, but it virtually eliminates one of the most common sources of leaks.

Potential Tax Savings

We have also heard from our solar partners that homeowners may be eligible for a substantial tax credit if the roof is replaced in preparation for the roof solar system installation.  We recommend consulting a licensed CPA to determine how much you can save.

Less Hassles

Another thing that many homeowners don’t consider is that if your roof contractor and your roof solar system company are working together it eliminates the finger pointing if there is an actual leak.   We are all on the same team at that point and we are all working together to make a customer happy.

For us, it’s a no-brainer.  We can give you a better roof replacement for less money with less headaches.

If you have any questions about replacing your roof if you have a roof solar system, please give us a call.  We don’t charge for friendly advice and there is no cost for a consultation.

About us:  ReNew Home Designs is GAF Master-Elite Certified, a Certified Sate-Crafter, and a Certified Green Roofer that works closely with many of the leading solar contractors across greater Maryland.  We are a 2016 Angie’s List Super Service Award winner and we are proud of our A+ with the BBB.  MHIC License # 96953.  Visit us online at

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