The cost to install solar panels decreased by over 70% over the last 10 years. This makes installing solar panels a slam dunk.
It’s more affordable than ever and you save money on your electric bills. The ROI of solar panels has never been better.
Since solar panels get installed on your roof, you might wonder if you need to replace your roof for solar panels. If you do, then that impacts the overall costs of installation.
Keep reading to learn if you have to replace the roof before installing solar panels and get tips to make your solar panel installation easy.
The Best Roof for Solar Panels
The best roof for solar panels is a brand new roof that’s situated at the right angle and direction to capture solar energy.
The condition of the roof matters. Solar panels weigh about 40 pounds. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but if they sit on a weak roof structure, then they will be a problem.
Get your roof professionally inspected. Look for signs of damage, such as leaks and broken or curled shingles. These are signs that the wood has been exposed to rain and weather.
These will weaken the structure, and if there are solar panels on top of the roof, the roof will probably sag and buckle. That will require a major repair job.
The good news is that solar panels protect your roof. Since they sit on top of the shingles, the roof doesn’t get exposed to harsh weather elements.
Short vs. Long Term Thinking
The average roof lasts about 20-30 years. That’s about how long solar panels last. Let’s say that you’re 10 years into the life of your current roof.
You have between 10-20 years before you have to replace the roof. That’s perfectly fine for right now, but you’ll run into problems 10-20 years down the road.
You’ll have to replace the roof and get the solar panels reinstalled. That’s going to be a very expensive project.
Replace the roof at the same time as you install solar panels, and you won’t have a big project hanging over your head.
Doing the Math on a Roof Replacement
If you do decide to replace the roof before the solar panels, you know that it will add to the cost of the solar installation.
You need to calculate the total cost of installation, including the roof replacement.
The average cost of a roof replacement is around $10,000. Your roof replacement might be much more, in the $25,000 range, or much less.
Once you get a ballpark figure, you can add that to the solar installation cost.
Now, let’s look at things that will drive the cost of the solar installation down. For instance, there’s a tax credit that expires at the end of 2021 for qualifying roof materials.
The tax credit is for 10% of the materials cost, with a maximum of $500. You have to purchase certain metal roofs or asphalt with cooling granules.
If you miss out on this tax credit, there are plenty of incentives for solar panel installations. There is a federal tax credit of up to 26% of the cost of installation. That runs through the end of 2023 for qualifying solar panel installations.
States also have incentives to encourage more people to install solar panels. These might be rebates or tax credits.
Ask your solar installation company about these credits and rebates. Also, work with a tax professional to calculate your tax incentives.
There are certain rules that apply when claiming both state and federal incentives.
The final piece of the puzzle is the return on investment for the solar installation. You know that you’ll save money on energy bills. How much you’ll save depends on the types of solar panels you install and the capacity.
Take all of these figures and decide if the roof replacement is worth it.
Find a Solar Panel Installer
Are you ready to find a solar panel installer? Start by asking your local network for recommendations. If you know of other contractors, they might recommend a solar installation company.
You’ll get a few names and the next step is to look at their websites. Look at the services they provide and make sure they do residential solar installations.
Quality solar install companies have reviews and testimonials on their websites. They’ll also have accreditation from organizations like the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.
Get quotes from more than one solar installation company. That allows you to compare quotes. Don’t automatically go with the lowest bid.
Take customer service and the willingness to educate clients into consideration, too. These are signs that you’re getting an installation company that goes above and beyond.
If you go with the lowest bit without other considerations, you’re probably going to get what you pay for. You could end up with low-quality materials and poor installation. It might be a headache to resolve any issues.
Of course, ask the installation company about your roof and get their opinion to decide if you need a roof replacement before installation.
Should I Replace My Roof Before Installing Solar Panels?
What’s the best roof for solar panels? Do I need a new roof for solar panels? These are important questions to ask before you decide to install solar panels.
You have to weigh the short-term and long-term consequences of replacing your roof now vs. 20 years down the road. When you add the costs of a roof replacement, solar installation, tax incentives, and the ROI, you’ll find that a roof replacement is worth it.
You save yourself from major roof repairs and reinstalling the solar panels later on. If you enjoyed learning about solar panel installations, you’ll love the other home improvement tips on the blog. Check them out today!