Many property owners worry about damaging their roof when installing a solar panel system. And will installing solar panels cause problems with the structural integrity of their roof?
For professionally installed solar panels, the answer to that question is no. Professional solar installers take precautions to make sure that there are no leaks or other damage from the attachment of the panels.
There are two things you need to consider to ensure installing solar panels does not damage your roof.
The two absolute requirements for making sure that your solar panels won't damage your roof are pretty simple:
- Your roof has to be in good condition. By that, we mean that there can't be any existing leaks in your roof. They would only become more difficult to detect and repair after you put on solar panels. You need good gutters and drainage from your roof. It's easiest to install solar on a sloped roof with shingles. Clay tiles tend to need special handling because they are easy to break, and flat roots have special drainage considerations.
- Your installer has to be a licensed professional. More than that, your installer needs to know all the options for the products used to attach the panels to your roof and needs to be able to explain to you what's best in your situation.
But won't any holes in my roof always damage it?
Solar installation involves drilling holes in your roof to attach the racking that holds up the panels. The holes are for log bolts that are designed to hold the panels in place even during extreme weather. Every hole is surrounded by flashing that fits under roof shingles or tiles to keep water out. The flashing is then covered by tar or some other sealant. And sealant is applied with the log bolt to make triple-sure the bolt doesn't cause a leak.
If you have a flat roof, you won't need to have holes drilled into your roof to hold the panels in place. The installer will add ballast to the pedestals that hold the panels up to keep them in place. But it's a fair question to ask your installer how you can be sure that the ballast doesn't leak and clog the gutters that keep your roof dry. Or you can avoid installation on your roof entirely and go with a ground installation wired into your home's electrical system. This approach solves a lot of aesthetic problems, but it's more expensive, and there are fewer options for materials when you set up panels in your backyard.