What Do You Do When You Need to Have Your Roof Replaced and You Have Solar?

by Michael Franco
Team of Workers Installing Solar Panels on Residential Rooftop in California

If you own a home, then you know that replacing your roof comes with the territory. Luckily, most roofs don’t have to be replaced that often. Shingled roofs can hold up for 12 to 25 years, depending on what material they’re made of. And metal roofs tend to last even longer, with a life expectancy of 40 to 70 years.

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But what happens when your roof needs replacing and you have solar panels? The good news is that a roof replacement with solar panels is totally doable, although it will require more work than a traditional roof replacement.

Will the Solar Panels Need to Be Removed and Reinstalled?

The first question most folks have when it comes to replacing a roof with solar panels is whether or not the solar panels will have to be removed. The short answer here is yes. You’ll likely need to call in a solar expert for the solar panel removal rather than counting on the roof installation company to tackle that part of the project. You don’t want to risk damaging your solar panel system during the removal or reinstallation process. Solar installation companies are usually able to come to take care of this for you, to ensure your solar panels are handled appropriately and reinstalled correctly.

How Do You Replace a Roof When You Have Solar Panels?

To replace a roof with solar panels, you’ll need to do a bit of strategic planning before getting started. For one thing, you’ll need to coordinate your solar panel removal with the timing of your roof replacement. Finding a roofing contractor who will work directly with the solar panel installation company is ideal because they can sort out the timing between them without needing you to be the go-between.

When the solar panels on your roof are first removed, there’ll be a short period of time when you’re without power — typically just a few minutes. Then, you can expect to only utilize grid, or non-solar-sourced, power for the duration of the roof installation. So, go ahead and plan on a power bill that’s a bit higher than normal for the month of your roof installation. Since your solar panels will totally be out of commission during this period, having a timely and efficient roof installation is more important than ever when solar panels are involved. For this reason, some people opt to redo their roofs in cooler, less sunny months, when solar power isn’t harnessed as easily. Plus, cooler temps are typically more comfortable for the folks working on the roof install, so it’s a win-win.

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How Much Will That Add to the Overall Price of Roof Replacement?

Although it can vary depending on your home and where you live, you can expect to spend an additional $250 (CAD 335) or so for each solar panel that needs to be removed and reinstalled during your roof replacement. This cost should cover removal, disconnecting the system and reinstallation — so long as you don’t need to purchase any new materials to make your panels work with your new roof.

When reinstalling your panels, you’ll want to make sure the original brackets and mounting hardware used for your panels will still work with the new roof material, particularly if you switched materials — say, from asphalt shingles to a metal roof. Talk this through with your roofers and the solar panel experts ahead of time to avoid having the unfortunate surprise of needing new mounting hardware that can end up adding hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars more to the price of your roof replacement.

A New Roof ... With Solar Panels

When it comes to solar panels and roof replacement, know that while there are added steps and costs involved, a roof replacement with solar panels can be done in a way that’s not cost-prohibitive or overly disruptive to your home. If it hurts to shell out the extra money required to remove the solar panels, just remember how much you’ve been saving on your electric bills by having solar panels installed in the first place. Solar power can save you money in the long run, even if it does require a little extra legwork when the time comes to replace your roof.

All CAD conversions are based on the exchange rate on the date of publication.