Solar panel roof replacement: What do you need to know?

Solar panels last a long time. They may even outlast your roof, which can make going solar a bit tricky.

Edited by: Emily Walker
8 min read
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Solar panel systems typically last around 25 to 35 years. These systems have very long lives, which makes it reasonable to ask if your roof will hold up for the same amount of time. Should you replace your roof before you install solar panels? What happens if you need to repair or replace your roof after going solar? 

The fact is that it's usually best to replace your roof when you go solar. The good news is that the savings on your electric bill will likely make up the cost of a new roof over time.

Before you reach out to a roofing contractor, we'll help you think through whether you should replace your roof, how a roof replacement will impact your savings from going solar, and the costs involved with removing existing panels for a roof repair.

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Key takeaways

  • If you have an asphalt roof over 5-10 years old, you'll probably want to replace it before going solar.

  • Replacing your roof and installing solar costs about $30,000.

  • If you need to replace your roof after you install solar panels, expect solar panel removal and reinstallation to cost anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000.

  • Roofs and solar energy systems have similar lifespans, so in most cases, going solar will still be worth it if you need to re-roof.

Before installing solar panels, it's worth it to get your roof inspected unless it's new. While metal roofs and tile roofs can last over 50 years, asphalt roofs usually only last up to 30 years. So even if your asphalt roof is just 5-10 years old, you'll still want to make sure it will last as long as your solar panels. Most solar panel brands cover their products under warranty for 25 years, but they can often produce adequate electricity for 35 years.

If your installer determines that your roof should be replaced before going solar, we recommend listening to them. Otherwise, you could pay hefty fees to remove and reinstall your panels, or worse, get leaks in your roof that damage your home. Replacing your roof and getting solar panels at the same time can even provide some benefits.

Solar panels make your roof more durable

When you install solar panels and a new roof at the same time, it's very unlikely you'll need to re-roof during your system's lifetime. Solar panels are more durable than most roofing materials and can extend the life of the roof shingles they cover.

Adding solar panels can bring down your roofing costs

Replacing your roof and installing solar panels will probably cost about $30,000. This assumes you're installing an average 10.5 kW system ($22,000 after the 30% federal tax credit) and an asphalt roof ($10,000).

This isn't cheap, but you may be able to knock some dollars off the price by asking your solar installer for a roofing referral. Most solar companies don't offer roofing services, but because it's common to need your roof replaced when going solar, the industries are closely connected. Many solar installers can easily provide referrals for roofers, which can sometimes result in a discount on your roof replacement.

If you run into a roofing issue and need to replace your roof post-installation, don't worry. It won't be cheap but it is possible.

How much does it cost to remove solar panels to replace your roof?

On average, it costs between $1,500 to $6,000 to remove and re-install solar panels. And you'll still need to pay roof replacement costs on top of that.

Ultimately, the price you'll pay depends on the size of your system, how many panels you need removed, if your installer needs to remove mounting hardware, and whether you need a place to store the equipment. Once your installer removes your panels, it usually voids the panel manufacturer's warranty, so if something goes wrong with your panels in the future, it will come out of your pocket.

Who should you contact to remove your solar panels?

We recommend contacting your original solar installer to remove and replace panels. They'll be most familiar with your installation and their warranty may even cover part or all of the costs. If you can't get in touch with them, some other solar companies offer operations and maintenance services for installations that aren't their own.

If re-roofing post-installation concerns you, we recommend asking installers how often they do this type of work and its typical cost before selecting a solar quote. Some companies specify a price in your initial contract, and it never hurts to request this from your company before installation.

Solar installations rarely cause roofing issues. As we mentioned previously, solar panels usually make your roof more durable. But many solar installation companies do provide warranty coverage for your roof where the panels are located. It's common for an existing roofing warranty to become void when you install solar, at least for the portion covered by solar panels. Solar installers offer this roof warranty so you still have peace of mind.

Roof warranties from solar companies typically last 10 years, but it can vary. If your installer recommends a roof replacement and you choose not to listen, there's a good chance they won't provide you with the roof warranty coverage. Before you sign a contract, confirm with your installation company whether the cover the roof and the duration of that warranty.

Re-roofing costs can be high, but so are rising energy costs. Even with the cost of a new roof, you'll likely save tens of thousands of dollars on electric bills with solar. If your roof already needs replacement, this is the best time to go solar. As we mentioned before, you may even get a discount on your roof.

If you're considering moving in the future, it's normal to be worried about putting too much money into your home. But solar can increase your home's resale value by 4% and having a new roof can make it easier to sell your home for more money.

Visit the EnergySage Marketplace to get competitive quotes for solar panel systems from local and certified installers. If your roof is on the older end, make a note in your account. EnergySage installers can give you advice on potential roofers to contact or sometimes even do the work themselves.

Find out what solar panels cost in your area in 2024
Please enter a five-digit zip code.
  • 100% free to use, 100% online
  • Access the lowest prices from installers near you
  • Unbiased Energy Advisors ready to help
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