Solar panels look spiffy and new, plus they’re an environmentally friendly way to use energy. But will they end up costing you more than you thought? Here’s what you need to know.
If they are installed improperly, solar panels can indeed cause damage to your roof. However, if they are carefully installed with expert help, there is a good chance that they will not only give off clean energy, but increase the value of your home as well.
They are great for roof protection and increases in home value, but solar panels do take work and money. Here’s what you need to know to be ready for installation.
Risks and proper installation
As mentioned above, improper installation of solar panels can damage your roof. The biggest risk when it comes to roof damage are the holes that will be drilled to install racking, which will hold the panels. If not carefully and professionally done, these holes will probably leak, which can result in water damage to your home. To avoid this, installers will often fit lag bolts into the roof and hold them in with flashing. Both of these things are designed to withstand extreme weather and, again, if done properly, the roof will remain leak-free.
Despite this reassurance, many people still worry about having holes in their roofs. There many options for solar power including (but not limited to) solar shingles and solar roof tiles. Shingles and tiles are smaller and can go right onto your roof. This will eliminate the need for racking and holes directly in the roof. The only downside to these options is that the technology is less efficient and the cost could be just as high, or higher, than that of solar panels.
The biggest way to ensure your solar panels do not damage your roof is to check the integrity of your roof, prior to installation. Most modern roofs are sturdy enough to withstand solar panel installation, but having it insepcted beforehand can never hurt. If your home is older or outdated, talk to a professional about potential risks and possible damage. Make sure you and your home are both ready before installation.
Maintenance for solar panels is surprisingly easy. Unlike cars and household appliances, solar panels require very little attention most of the time.
You will want to check your panels during or after windstorms or other severe weather conditions that can leave debris on your roof. Dirty or debris covered panels will not work as efficiently so check to be sure they are getting a good amount of sunlight. You can use a leaf blower to get rid of debris fairly quickly. It is also a good idea to clean the panels during dry spells, and this is not terribly difficult. A quick spray with a garden hose should be sufficient enough to do the job. If you are lucky enough to have panels that tilt downward, the rain will help to wash away debris and dirt. See? Not hard at all!
A manual cleaning might be a good idea every once in a while but that is a small price to pay for clean energy. The winter could also pose a problem for solar panels, but not one that can’t be quickly remedied. Of course, if your roof is covered in snow, your panels may not be getting the sunlight they need to function. When snowfalls come you will have to get up on the roof and brush or shovel the snow off so that your panels will continue to work properly.
While it is difficult to damage a solar panel, it is still possible. Solar panels are protected by a thick layer of tempered glass which can take quite the beating before actually breaking. Most damages are likely to be caused by a fault in the conduction of electricity to the panel. An arc fault happens when there is a dangerously high power discharge between electric conductors. This can cause heat which could eventually start an electric fire. However, most panels are equipped with fault systems to prevent this. The inverter should shut the power down if it senses a problem with the panel.
Are solar panels right for you?
While expensive up front, solar panels can end up saving you a lot of money in the long run. Here are a few things to consider when trying to decide if going solar is the right choice for you.
First, consider your electric bill. Though costly to install, solar panels could potentially eliminate your electric bill completely. Just make sure you research electricity rates and usage before making a decision. These rates are completely volatile and they vary from state to state so don’t slack off on doing your homework.
You will also want to take into account the amount of sunlight your roof is getting. If it isn’t enough to run off solar energy, obviously you’ll want to think twice before installing the panels. If you install them and then find out that your house is not in a prime location for solar energy, you will have to remove the panels and start all over again which will probably be quite expensive. Check your neighborhood’s regulations, too. If your area is governed by a homeowner’s association (HOA) there might be extra regulations that must be taken into account. Installing solar panels might require attaining a permit.
Make sure you take your roof’s size into account as well because you do not want to go overboard with your solar panels. You do not want to purchase or install more than are necessary, since the weight of the panels could damage the roof and require extra supports. When it doubt, as a professional for their opinion! They’ll help you figure out exactly what you need, so you don’t end up spending more money than you absolutely have to.