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How to Remove and Reinstall Solar Panels

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Palmetto solar expert working on a roof to remove and reinstall solar panels.
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Solar panels can help you save money and protect the planet for 25+ years. However, because they have such a long lifetime, there are times when you might need to remove and reinstall solar panels in order to perform maintenance on your roof or other equipment located in that area.

If you need to have your solar panels removed and reinstalled, you’re probably concerned with protecting your investment, so we’re here to help explain the entire process so you understand everything that happens.

We’ll discuss why you might need to remove and reinstall solar panels, what you can expect to pay when that work is done, how long the project can take, and more.

When is Solar Panel Removal and Reinstallation Necessary?

There are two primary reasons why you might need to remove and reinstall solar panels: fixing your roof and fixing your solar power system.

Fixing Your Roof

Even minor roof repairs can necessitate having some or all of your solar panels removed and reinstalled. While it seems like a hassle, removing your solar energy system makes repairing your roof easier and doesn’t compromise your panels. And if you need to remove solar panels to replace roof sections, having a solar expert perform that work can make the whole project go smoother.

Additionally, roofers are rarely trained to both install solar panels and maintain solar power systems. Thus, it's best to have your solar panel system removed by trained solar professionals who have the knowledge and equipment to do the job right.

Fixing Your Solar Panel System

While repairing many parts of your solar power system can be done on the roof, it is often much safer to do this work after the panels are removed. Regardless of the type of solar panels, taking this additional step creates important space for analyzing the entire system thoroughly.

For example, if the mounts are loose or damaged, you may need to remove the solar panels to make room for reinstalling the mounts securely.

Additional Reasons

You might also need to remove and reinstall solar panels because of home repairs in and around the rooftop. Examples include when you're working on trees, satellite dishes, electrical wires, the attic, and your HVAC system.

Solar removal and reinstallation may also be necessary when you're moving to a new home, and you wish to relocate your system. If that is the case, make sure you have a trained installer handle the entire job so it’s done safely and securely to protect your investment.

Can I Remove and Reinstall My Solar Panels Myself?

You may feel confident enough to remove and reinstall solar panels yourself, but it can be very risky to do so without the right tools or expertise. This task requires the use of special equipment, which can be expensive for the average homeowner to purchase. Also, attempting DIY solar panel projects can void your contracts and warranties.

A solar panel system is an intricate and complex power plant with electrical connections that only solar experts should handle. Considering a solar panel system is a large investment, it makes sense to only let experienced solar installers handle your solar panels and perform this solar panel removal service.

Moreover, removing and reinstalling solar panels involves a complicated permitting process that’s best navigated by a qualified solar installer. The permits are mandatory because your solar panel system is connected to the electrical grid, and a licensed installer has the experience to help expedite those permits. Thus, using a professional solar company can help ensure your solar panel removal and reinstallation is successful.

Despite claims they can handle the entire roof project, including solar panel removal and reinstallation, many roofing companies lack the necessary expertise to remove and reinstall solar panels correctly every time. For professional guidance about any solar panel project, you should engage a reputable solar company like Palmetto. We have the experience and equipment you can trust and can connect you with a reputable roofing company to do that part of the project as well if you need a recommendation.

Timing and Cost to Remove Solar Panels and Reinstall Them

The time frame and cost to remove solar panels and reinstall them largely depend upon the solar company you hire. In addition to actually removing and reinstalling the panels, you also have to account for the costs of the repair project itself, whether it’s your roof or work being done around your roof.

As such, it is crucial to ensure you engage the right companies from the start. Researching both roofers and solar installers will help you compare the cost to remove solar panels and reinstall them, and decide who will complete the project successfully and in a reasonable amount of time.

How Long Can the Project Take?

Unless you have large or custom solar arrays on your roof, it should take a day to remove the panels and another day to reinstall them. Then you have to factor in the amount of time needed to do the repairs, whether it's the roof, your solar panel system, or whatever else you might need.

Thus, it typically takes three days to complete the entire project at a minimum:

  • One day to remove the panels
  • One day to complete the project
  • One day to reinstall the panels

Obviously, major repairs may require more days. With transparent communication between you and the companies involved, you should have a strong idea of when the project will be complete, as well as any potential changes in the project timeline, before you begin the project.

How Much Will the Project Cost?

In general, the cost to remove and reinstall solar panels depends on several factors. For example, Palmetto typically charges $225 per panel to remove and reinstall solar panels. While the cost to remove and reinstall solar panels depends on the solar company you choose, each company should be able to quote a base price for the work.

The Condition of the Roof

Prepare to adjust your budget if your roof requires repairs before the panels can be reinstalled. You should also be ready to spend more if you're changing the design of your roof, or using customized roofing materials to enhance the energy efficiency of your roof.

The Condition of the Panels

If your solar panels are damaged or no longer generating as much electricity as they should, your solar company may recommend replacing them. That, of course, will mean allocating more money to the project’s budget to cover the cost required to replace that solar equipment.

If your panels must be shipped off-site to create more room for roof repair, you may also be required to pay extra if the solar company didn't include storage in the base quote.

The Condition of the Hardware

If the solar company needs to replace some or all of your hardware, you will also have to adjust your budget accordingly. Some hardware can be difficult to remove without damaging it, so it’s common for additional replacements to be needed. Examples of solar hardware that may need to be replaced includes the following:

  • Racking system
  • Inverters
  • Mounts

The Weather

Obviously, it is safer to remove and reinstall solar panels when the weather is clear. But if the condition of your roof can't wait for the weather to be friendly, you may be required to pay more for the project to be completed on time.

For instance, if your roof is leaking during winter, you probably want it fixed as soon as possible for your home to remain habitable. However, the risks involved and the tools required to work safely in extreme weather under tight timelines may increase the total cost of the project.

The Location of Your Home

If your home is located off the beaten track or was built in an unusual area, it may require special tools to guarantee the safety of experts and your equipment when you remove and reinstall solar panels. A unique approach to complete the project may also be necessary if your home is also located near power lines. In other words, any adjustment outside the standard requirements can potentially cause the cost to remove and reinstall solar panels to increase.

The Process of Removing and Reinstalling Your Solar Panels

Once you hire a professional solar company to remove and reinstall solar panels, the actual work is relatively straightforward. Here is Palmetto’s step-by-step description of what takes place when solar panels are removed and reinstalled:

Home Site Visit

Everything starts with a site visit from a solar expert to assess the condition of your panels and roof. Once the expert has analyzed the situation and has a good understanding of your needs, you will receive an estimated timeline and cost for the solar panel work, as well as insight into the time frame for completing the roofing work. You can use this information to coordinate with a roofing expert who can provide additional details about actually fixing your roof.

If you hire a solar company that helps you hire a roofing company, your work is even easier. Thus, you should consider working with a solar expert like Palmetto who can guide you throughout the entire project and work with the roofing company to get the job done quickly and seamlessly.

Once you approve the various timeframes for the project, it’s time to sign the necessary paperwork with both the solar and roofing companies. Pay special attention here to avoid signing anything that may void your current contract or warranties in the future.

Removal and Storage

During the most clear-cut step in the process, the solar company sends out experienced technicians to remove the solar panels from your roof. Storage of your solar panels may be necessary if the project is expected to take longer to complete.

Once your panels are removed, including the mounting hardware, those solar experts will conduct a thorough assessment of the condition of the panels, hardware, and roof. In this step, you will learn if your panels and mounting hardware need to be repaired or replaced.

Depending on the condition of your solar panels, mounting hardware, and roof, the solar and roofing professionals may need to revise the initial plans, cost, timelines, and other terms and conditions agreed to when signing the paperwork. For example, you could receive a cheaper quote and a shorter time frame - or something more substantial if additional solar repair is needed.

This is also the best time for the roofing company to assess the condition of your roof. They can provide an updated recommendation on the extent of repair needed if they see something that wasn’t identified when the panels were still in place.

Relocate

The need to relocate panels depends upon the details of your project, so it won’t be required in all instances, but it’s helpful to understand what happens if your panels must be moved to another location.

If you are moving to a new home and want to bring your solar power system with you, the project may take a little longer overall, as you have to factor in the amount of time needed to remove, store, transport, and reinstall the solar panel system once you are in your new home.

In addition to relocating your solar panels, you will also likely need to use new hardware, as each solar power installation is customized to the unique design and shape of your roof. This is another instance when it’s essential that you stay in regular communication with your solar panel installer and the company working on your roof, to make sure everyone’s aligned and coordinated during the project.

Repairs

This step entails fixing any solar panel or roofing issues identified above. How long this process takes primarily depends on the extent of repairs needed, the level of preparedness of the companies you picked, and the current weather conditions.

This work can include:

  • Repair or replacement of the old roof
  • Repair or replacement of your solar panels
  • Replacement of damaged hardware
  • Confirming repairs are successful

Reinstallation and Review

Once your roof is back in good condition and/or your solar panel system has been repaired, your panels will be placed in the right positions on your roof. This can be where they were before, but the solar installer may recommend another design or upgraded equipment if they feel improvements can be made. Reinstalling solar panels often involves having brand-new flashing installed to ensure you enjoy the maximum possible lifespan for your system and to prevent additional repair needs in the future.

Once your solar panels are on the roof, the system will be reviewed to guarantee that everything works properly. It’s important to check that nothing was missed during the reinstallation, especially your solar panel system's capability to generate electricity, send any excess generation to battery storage, islanding, and more. The solar company will also consult with your local utility company to ensure that your system is connected properly to the electricity grid, especially if you’re involved in a net metering program.

Key Takeaways

To remove and reinstall solar panels, it’s a complex project that requires substantial expertise. As such, it is crucial to work with an experienced solar company from the start. While it doesn't have to be the initial installer at the company that installed your panels, we recommend the work should be done by a solar expert, not a roofing company.

It’s important to do your due diligence when it comes to reviewing potential solar companies to weigh how prepared the company is to handle your project. You should ask about topics including past solar panels removal and reinstallation projects, project timelines, and total cost. The company should thoroughly demonstrate why they qualify to handle your project.

At Palmetto, our solar professionals are here to help you remove and reinstall solar panels. They can review your situation, provide helpful guidance to ensure your panels are cared for, take care of fixing your home and panels, and make sure your solar power system is reinstalled properly.

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