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Preparing for the Future: Solar Panels and your Roof

Solar Panels

Solar panels have become a more common sight in the last few years especially as more and more states go green in hopes of energy independence and concerns over global warming. Having a solar system installed in your home can have a great many advantages and can be a positive investment. However, since most systems are installed on the roofs of homes, it’s important that your roof is in the right condition to receive this upgrade. If you are considering investing in solar energy for your home, check out these tips as you get ready.

Benefits of Solar Energy

Solar panels allow you to harness the energy of the sun to create electricity and heat for your home. While these systems can still be a bit pricey as the technology is relatively new, researchers and users believe it can be a good investment. Solar energy uses a natural renewable resource to provide energy, making it better for the environment than oil or natural gas. The use of solar energy to supplement regular electricity has resulted in lower bills for many people. As solar panels become more popular, we have seen an increase in home values that already have them installed. There is a significant cost associated with installation of solar panels, so check your state for incentives and “go green” initiatives such as tax breaks, discounts and special deals for switching to solar panels. You can also have energy use inspections done on your home. This will show things like where you can cut back on excessive energy use, where heat is escaping through leaky windows and help you cut cost in addition to your new system.

Preparing your Roof for Solar Panels

If you are sold on the idea of solar energy, the next step is to be sure your roof is ready to handle it. While some solar systems can be set up on the ground (sometimes communities invest in grids for the area), most people have them installed on their roof. So what repairs or replacements need to be done before installing solar panels? There are a couple of factors to consider. The first is that solar panels are heavy. A panel on average weighs about 40 lbs. This does not include the mounting rack and hardware. Multiply this by however many panels your house requires. How many panels you need is dependent on the size of the house and how much energy you think you need but 12-18 is pretty typical for homes in the US. Is your roof strong enough to handle 500 lbs or more?

The next thing to consider is the length of time. Solar panels usually come with a warranty of 20-25 years and are designed to go on working longer than that. So take that 500 lbs and multiply it by 20 years. That is how long, at least, your roof needs to be able to withstand your solar system. While that may sound daunting, roofs across America are currently withstanding the pressure and holding up to the test of time. But if your roof has any issues before, it is better to take care of them now. Otherwise, panels will have to be removed and you will most likely be paying to have them reinstalled on top of repair costs. It can be tempting to overlook small issues just to get solar panels installed faster. Don’t. Take the time to have small issues fixed now before they become big problems that can put your home in danger and end up costing you more in the long run.

Does this mean your whole roof needs to be replaced before you can have solar panels? Not necessarily. Call the experts at Seawright Roofing & Solar for a roof inspection. They will help you determine the extent of repairs needed or if structural support is all that is required. They will also be able to look for damages on the inside and outside that may be detrimental to the structural integrity of your roof. Some important things to consider are: the age of the roof, the durability of materials used, its current condition and cost of repairs. Spot check your roof and attic for mildew, water leaks or stains, dark or dirty spots. Be sure and tell the inspector you are considering solar panels so they can give you an honest assessment of your roof. We highly recommend a certified roofing professional to perform these inspections as the use of ladders and climbing on steep roofs can be dangerous.

Once your roof has been cleared for damages, it is also important to consider other physical factors. Flat roofs are the best for catching sunlight from multiple angles, meaning they will absorb more energy and do the best work. Slated roofs are fine but the sun may not shine directly on them all day long. As far as longevity for your roof, metal roofs have seen the best results. They are strong and do not mold and break off like shingles can. If you still want to go with shingles, higher grade architectural shingles are recommended. Remember, your roof needs to last as long as your solar system. Remove obstacles that could cause shade. Your roof inspector can help you determine what may throw shadows across your solar panels. Expect to trim back trees to create paths for the sun. Other obstacles like chimneys can be harder to work around. Ask the roofing professionals at Seawright Roofing & Solar for the best solution.

Solar panels can be a great investment for your home and for the environment. If you think this may be the right step for you, or if you have questions, call Seawright Roofing & Solar and talk to our experts about preparing your roof for the transition. Call us at 1-803-828-4181 to get a quote from one of our roofing experts.


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Seawright Roofing & Solar
701 Gervais St Suite 150-204
Columbia, SC 29201
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