Should I Replace My Roof Before Installing Commercial Solar Panels?

Solar panel setups in the commercial sector have been on a consistent upturn over the last few years. A 2018 study showed installation numbers for that year at their second-highest, ever. Not only that, but experts expect commercial solar installations to reach 4 million by 2023! 

solars being installed on flat

It’s not hard to see why this would be an attractive option for most business owners. Discreet and self-contained, solar panels make buildings completely energy efficient. And they work extremely well on flat-roofed buildings.

As far as No more bills. No block-wide power outages. Complete self-sufficiency.

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and step into the future with a solar panel installation for your business. But you run into some of the most common questions experienced by prospective solar users, every day.

“Is my business’ roof up to the challenge?”

“Are we going to need work done to protect it?”

“Should I get it replaced before I invest in a whole commercial solar panel installation?”

Join us, today, as we take a closer look.

Why Would You Replace Your Roof?

The big issue at the core of solar panel installations is their lifespan. Commercial solar panels last a long time: anywhere from 30 to 35 years in many cases. This is part of what makes them such an attractive option because three decades is a long time over which to save on utility bills as well. 

But nothing comes for free. Solar panel systems have a gigantic lifespan, leading many business owners to question the roofs they are attached to, instead. Roofs need the structural integrity to hold up that heavy machinery for a long period of time. The older they are, the less likely they are to have it in them, and the more likely you are of your office roof collapsing.

There’s also a less dramatic but equally valid problem. What if you install the solar panels, go about your business for eight years, then realize the roof is buckling inward? It hasn’t collapsed, but now you’ll need to uninstall the solar system, replace the roof, then reinstall your power. This can be a logistical nightmare, with office closures due to safety and noise, in general. Also, there’s a good chance of expenses you weren’t ready for in the meantime.

Identifying Problems: A Damp Area Inside The Ceiling

Sometimes, the easiest way to spot a problem is to spot the problems it makes. If you’re not sure if your building roof is leaking or letting in moisture in a way that would mean replacing it, the answer may be inside your roof.

Take a look at the underside of your office’s roof sheathing with a flashlight, either on your own or with a contractor. Check for signs of rot or even light water stains. These are clear indicators of a bigger problem, overall.

Your Roof: To Repair Or Replace?

If it’s clear your flat roof is leaking or damaged, it may be time to do something about it. But what route should you take? It’s going to need to be repaired or replaced if you want to push forward with solar installation (but also even if you didn’t). You just need to determine whether your roof can be repaired or whether replacement is the only option.

You’ll want to start by hiring a licensed roofing contractor to inspect your roofing system. We can recommend someone if you’re looking!

Get this out of the way and done, long before deciding on whether to invest in solar equipment. If you’re looking for other common signs you may need work in order to move on, keep an eye out for:

  • cracked and loose tiles
  • rusting metal roof material
  • exposed nail heads, visible through your roof’s covering

Of course, there are always things to be concerned about. 

Should I Replace My Roof Before Installing Commercial Solar Panels?

For businesses in the market for a solar option often have asphalt roofs, which have become very popular in general with businesses. It’s easy to imagine these roofs lasting 20 years, reasonably, which makes them suitable for solar installations. Throw 3-tap shingles on that roof instead of building shingles, however, and your roof may not have the lifespan it needs to support a solar panel.

If a roof is being weighed down by two or more layers of shingling, the frame itself may not be strong enough to support a solar panel’s weight. There’s a lot of extra weight that can be thrown on during construction like this, and it does not help strengthen a roof.

Finally, taking it back to basics, you might not expect it, but flat roofing provides a great option for solar panel installations. The costs are roughly the same as with a more typical pitched roof and, with advances in newer tech, there is minimal likelihood of leakage. This has long been a concern for solar users, as a flat surface that can’t self-clear presents a great opportunity for pooling. Using ballasts, these panels can keep themselves largely clear of rain, water, and other liquids that might damage them.

Is Solar Worth The Investment If You Reroof?

The average solar installation allows business owners to save in the tens of thousands in utility costs, over the lifetime of a building. Admittedly, the cost of re-roofing a business property can be high, but it pales in comparison to the amount of money it’s possible to save in the long run.

Plus, if you’re planning on re-roofing anyway, this serves as double incentive to get it done! All of this makes the average solar panel cost completely worthwhile.

Commercial Solar Installation

If you’ve been won over by all the great arguments for commercial solar installation, everything you’ve heard is true. It’s a great way to save money and safeguard against the problems most people have “on the grid”, as it were. 

But you need to be ready to handle the installation properly, and that starts with solid roofing. Look for damages, weaknesses, aging, and other damage and, if it seems severe, call in a professional to give you a quote on reinstallation. The potential costs of dismantling your power to replace your roof, later on, far outweigh what you’ll end up paying to do a reinstallation of time.

At Central Roofing, we have undertaken multiple large scale roofing restoration projects over the course of our careers. Two of the more exciting (and more common) types include silicone restoration and elastromeric coating systems. Silicone boasts an impressive longevity of 25 years or more at a time. Elastomeric systems last for 20 years or more. Both are excellent choices for pre-solar installation restoring, in particular because they do not require any significant replacement of the roof itself.

For more great insights into solar panel installation California or to find out more about our services, visit us today!