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Do Solar Panels Void the Roof Warranty?

Exploring what you need to know to protect your roof warranty during your solar installation

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Carlos Huerta
Guide

In your home, the roof is the one that allows you to protect your relatives from atmospheric elements such as rain or snow. Therefore, it is one of the most important investments you will make and you want to make sure it stays in good condition. However, to install solar panels you have to drill a lot of holes in the roof. In that sense, will the installation of the panels affect your roof warranty?

Generally, no, mounting solar panels does not have to void your roof warranty, as long as the rail system installed by the contractor complies with your roof manufacturer and installer’s instructions. This should guarantee that the stated warranty conditions are complied.

It should be noted that an efficient installation will include waterproofing and flashing to prevent water from penetrating the roof. Nevertheless, it is recommended that the installation of photovoltaic panels is not carried out on a roof that has a useful life of 10 years or less. In fact, the perfect time to install the panels is considered to be when you get a new roof.

Therefore, in this article, we will talk about what do roof warranties generally cover, roof types and photovoltaic installations, and finally we will discuss how a bad photovoltaic installation can void your roof warranty.

What Does Your Roof Warranty Cover?

Generally, your home roof warranty is covered by two parts. The first is the one provided by the installer, which covers the installation work, that is, the labor. This warranty lasts for approximately 10 years, depending on the conditions of the company that is in charge of installing your roof. Thus, if an incorrect installation is carried out and causes a failure in your roof, it must be covered by the company that carried out such installation.

Then there is the warranty provided by the roof material manufacturer, which depending on the product used can vary its duration between 25 to 50 years. Therefore, if your roofing material is found to be deficient, it will be replaced by its manufacturer, as long as it is proven that the damage was not caused by improper installation.

It is advisable to consult all your doubts both with the manufacturer of the material and the roof installer before starting any work. In this way you will know exactly how a photovoltaic installation can affect your warranty. Also, ask the roof installer if they can refer solar panel installers or if they install PV systems themselves, as many times they go together.

Roof types and solar installations

There are different types of roofs, which can be classified according to the material, the shape, and the size they have. So, it is important to consider these characteristics when wanting to install photovoltaic panels on your roof.

Also, it is important to take into account the state in which your current roof is and the longevity time it has to evaluate if it is necessary to change it or not before carrying out a photovoltaic installation. Therefore, below are some types of the roof according to the characteristics mentioned above.

Roof Material

There are different roofing materials, in general, most are suitable to install solar panels without damaging your roof. Among the most common materials we have the following:

Tile Roof

Many roofs are built with clay, terra cotta or slate tiles that cannot be drilled. Therefore, the supports have to be hooked under the tile and the roof deck must be drilled, which is a bit difficult for installation and therefore higher cost.

Composition Shingle

The most common product for building a roof is asphalt or concrete shingles. For the installation of panels you need screws that penetrate the roof deck, flashings to provide support and finally sealant for waterproof. These roofs make the installation of solar panels easier than when it comes to tiles.

Flat Roof

Membrane roofs are the type of material commonly used in flat roofs. The material is made from thermoplastic bitumen or synthetic rubber.

For the installation of the panels on flat roofs, tilted ballasted systems are used. Their advantage is that they are more economical and they do not require to drill the ceiling. Another commonly used alternative is mechanically attached racking systems.

Metal Standing Seam

Metal is the material from which many roofs are made and is considered to have the highest compatibility for photovoltaic installation. Thanks to the vertical seam, the panels can be assembled in a simple, economical and safe way, since the ceiling does not have to be drilled and it is not necessary to carry out waterproofing work, also allowing faster execution.

Finally, it should be mentioned that the roofing materials that are not ideal for photovoltaic panel installations are those that include wood shake or slate, because they are fragile, can present fire risks and the installation on these materials is more difficult.

Shape, Size and Tilt

Roofs can come in different shape and size configurations, which could affect the installation of solar panels. The best shape and size for solar panels to be installed comfortably is a large, square, flat roof.

In addition, if the shape of your roof has an angle of inclination, it must be considered when mounting the panels. The ideal angle of inclination is considered to be 30°. On very steep roofs (more than 40° slopes) the efficiency of the solar panels may be affected, and their mounting may be unsafe for contractors.

How Can A Bad Photovoltaic Installation Void The Warranty On Your Roof?

There are contractors that when installing photovoltaic panels can drill holes in your roof without considering the consequences that may arise. The roof warranty could be partially canceled, that is to say, that the section where the photovoltaic installation was carried out is not covered by the roof installation company against possible damage.

In general, if the contractor who installed the panels correctly followed the directions provided by the manufacturer and installer of your roof, your warranty will not be affected.

At the same time, when choosing the installer of your panel system, it is necessary to ask them what is the warranty they provide, since they should cover any damage that may be caused to your roof. There are several ways to affect the warranty of your roof, among the most common we have the following:

  • Solar panel installer caused some damage to their material due to carelessness, whether it be cracks or wear. Also, if it is a tile roof, the tiles may not have been removed correctly, which could cause them to be broken or cracked.
  • Not using adequate fasteners can affect your warranty by causing significant damage since the support of the panels could be loosened. This could fall and break, damaging not only your roof but also your modules.
  • Use racking systems with low quality materials that do not have waterproofing characteristics, or damage the roof material.

Any of these scenarios cannot only cause damage to your roof but also affect your warranty, causing significant losses of money. Therefore, you have to make sure that your photovoltaic installer does his job correctly and complies with the regulations that establish the type of warranty that your roof has.

Conclusions

Some people who want to install solar panels may feel scared or worried about the perforations that these imply in their roofs. However, they do not have to worry, as has already been mentioned as long as the installation is done correctly, the warranty on your roof will not be voided.

Likewise, it is always advisable to consult with the contractors who manufactured and installed your roof about the requirements that must be met to ensure that their warranties remain in effect. In any case, if possible it is recommended that the same company that installs your roof, also installs your solar system.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How to mount the solar panels?

There are different methods to mount solar panels, generally, these will depend on the material and the slope of your roof. Except for metal standing seam roofs, the panels are usually mounted with a system that pierces the joists.
 
However, in all installations a set of steps are followed, which are: first mount the flashings, then adjust the fasteners, then fix the solar panels, and finally make the electrical connection between the modules and the other elements of the photovoltaic system.
 


What do your roof contractors typically consider at the time to evaluate warranty terms?

Your roof contractor will need to know two things mainly. The first is whether your roof structure can support the load of the additional weight of the panels. They will also evaluate the racking system and the structural analysis with the weight of the modules and other loads such as the weight of snow and wind.
 
Finally, the method used by the solar installer to place the modules. It is important that no leakage shows after the modules are installed, that is proof of a bad solar installation.


What to do if your roof needs repairs and has solar panels installed?

To repair a roof with a solar system installed, the PV system must be removed first. Before starting repair work you should put both the solar contractor and the roofer in contact. Many times, the solar installer should respond for any damage caused to the roof in the area where the PV system was installed.
 
If not attributable to the solar installation, then the solar installer should be the one removing the solar system in order for the roofer to proceed with the repairs and then install the system back again.

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Author Bio

Carlos Huerta

Electrical Engineer with background in solar PV designs for residential and commercial projects as well as power systems development. Fan of renewable energy topics and projects. Technical writer for papers, articles and research in related topics to sustainability and especially solar power.

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