Do I Need to Replace My Roof Before Adding Solar Panels?

Roof with solar panelsIf you live here, in the Valley of the Sun, going solar can make a whole lot of sense. But do you need a brand new roof before adding solar panels?

Answer: Probably not…but it may be a good idea. Here’s what we mean.

Your Roof’s Age & Condition

You don’t absolutely need a new roof just because you are installing solar panels. However, it may be financially smart to do so depending on your roof’s age and current condition.

Think of it like this: You just bought a new home. Should you buy new flooring before you move in? It will be easier to install the floor before there’s furniture in every room. And you won’t have to pay the flooring contractor to move your furniture out and back in.

On the contrary, if the current floor is in great condition and you won’t replace it for several years, you might as well move in first. It will be more of a hassle and cost a little more when you do replace the flooring, but it’s likely worth it for the extra time you got out of the floor.

Solar panels on roofs are similar. So, here’s our recommendations:

  • If your roof is old and you need a new one soon: Yes, reroof first, then install the solar panels. That way you won’t have to waste money removing and refitting the solar panels when you eventually do need a new roof.
  • If your roof is new or only a few years old: No, don’t reroof now. Just install the solar panels.
  • If your roof is in OK condition and has more than a few years left in it: You probably don’t need to reroof now (you want to get your money’s worth out of the current roof).

For the solar panels, you have a couple of options:

  • Install them now and then pay to remove and replace them when you reroof
  • Wait to install the solar panels until you reroof

In other words, you’ll need to consider these factors:

  • Number of years left till you need to replace the roof
  • Energy savings you could get from solar panels up till the re-roofing
  • Cost of removing and refitting solar panels (can cost up to $1000)

Here’s a helpful equation to use:

Money saved from solar panels before a reroof – Cost of refitting panels = X

If “X” is a negative number, don’t install solar panels until AFTER replacing your current roof. If it’s positive, install ‘em!

Have Your Roof Professionally Assessed

Of course, all of this assumes you know the age and condition of your roof. Don’t try eyeballing your roof’s condition yourself. Get a professional roofer to look it over to see how many years it has left. Keep in mind, the “age factor” is tricky with a clay tile roof. While clay tile can last up to 50 years, the underlayment usually needs replacing every 12 to 20 years. As such, you may want to replace the underlayment before adding the solar panels even if the clay tiles have lots of life left.

If you live in the Phoenix and Tucson area, call Lyons Roofing to assess your roof’s condition. We also offer free estimates for re-roofing.

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