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Replacing Your Roof? Solar Panels Should Be Included

An image of an asphalt shingle roof with the words "Replacing your roof? Consider solar" in white within a green box.
PublishedOctober 24, 2021
UpdatedMay 17, 2024
AuthorCory O'Brien HeadshotCory O'BrienSenior Director - Growth MarketingEditorRyan Barnett HeadshotRyan BarnettSVP, Policy & New Market Development
In this article
01.
Benefits of Installing Solar Panels When Replacing Your Roof
02.
The Benefits of Solar Energy
03.
Roof Replacement Steps
04.
Reasons Why You Might Need a New Roof
05.
Roof Solar Panels Installation Timeline
06.
Roofing and Solar Panels Lifetime Expectancies 
07.
Are solar shingles worth it? 
08.
Roof Solar Panels Alternative: Ground-Mounted Systems
09.
Let One Company Help With Your New Roof Plus Solar Panels
10.
Key Takeaways

If you need a new roof on your home, you should consider installing solar as part of that larger project. The combined installation of a new roof with solar panels can power your home for more than two decades and help protect your new roof to reduce future repair and maintenance needs.

One of the more common obstacles to the solar installation process is discovering that your roof needs to be replaced before the solar panels can be installed. This article will help you better understand the process and perks of doing a solar power installation and roof replacement together, and why a new roof and solar panels make the perfect pair.

See how much you can save by going solar with Palmetto

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Benefits of Installing Solar Panels When Replacing Your Roof

If you get a new roof and solar at the same time, you will enjoy eight essential advantages:

1. Single Point of Contact

When you replace your roof and add solar panels simultaneously, a streamlined project timeline that “kills two birds with one stone” is often the most important perk for homeowners upgrading their property today. Instead of having to manage all of the work for two large projects across multiple companies and approval organizations, you can combine efforts and choose one company to administer everything on your behalf. By speaking with a single person about the details for both a new roof and solar panel installation, you will receive streamlined communication that helps move the work forward.

2. Combined Financing

Replacing your roof and installing a solar power system can both be costly undertakings that require extended financial projections. Completing both projects through a single company provides you the chance to pay for everything through a single loan, instead of pursuing multiple options from various vendors and banks.

While your roof investment will not be able to technically “pay for itself” in avoided costs (as is possible with solar panels that offset electricity bills), combining financing for both projects may give you better control over your total future cash flow. To reduce the cost of installing solar panels, there are many incentives and rebates available for homeowners in the U.S. today. 

3. Combined Permitting

Much like combined financing, hiring a single point-of-contact to administer all the details on your behalf helps streamline the permitting process. Using this approach takes one of the most stressful aspects of these projects out of your hands and gives them to an expert who knows how to navigate bureaucracy and keep your project moving.

4. Simplified Timeline

When you approach the installation of solar panels and roof replacement as a single project, it’s easier to make coherent plans about what steps happen first and which ones will happen next. Having clear insight into the details of the work will help you and the people doing the work operate successfully, helping to shorten the overall timeline.

5. Increased Durability

While your roof's lifespan largely depends on the material that it’s made from, every roof will eventually expire. Compared to most roofing materials, solar panels have a longer lifespan, often lasting more than 25 years. It's a smart move to go solar immediately after replacing your roof because the new roof with solar panels will have extended durability, thanks to the coverage provided by the panels.

6. Reduced Long-Term Costs

A fresh roofing installation combined with a new solar power installation means there'll be a much lower chance of needing to re-roof during the solar power system's lifespan. Therefore, you can avoid the costly and time-consuming process of solar panel removal, replacing your old roof, and re-installing the system if you decide to go solar without replacing an aging roof first.

A Palmetto solar panel installer carryinng a solar panel to be installed. He is holding onto a safefty rope.

On average, removing solar panels, storing them safely, and then reinstalling the system onto a new roof usually costs at least $5,000 for U.S. homeowners today, though actual price points may be much higher for larger systems. And while the costs to remove and replace your particular solar system will be quoted on a per-panel basis, adding solar to a brand-new roof is the best way to avoid this sometimes-expensive process altogether.  

7. Roof Compatibility

Not all roofing designs and materials are compatible with solar installation. Pairing the installation of solar panels and roof replacement ensures compatible rooftop materials, proper shingling, and the correct tilt will be used.

For example, installing solar on incompatible roofing materials or more than one shingle layer increases the chances of water damage. If your roof's angle is not within a specific range, you'll have to install extra materials to achieve the optimum tilt.

8. Improved Home Value

When you replace your roof and add solar panels, it may boost your home's curb appeal and property value tremendously, all at once. In fact, Remodeling Magazine reports that a brand-new roof can increase your home's resale value by more than $17,000 on average at the national level. Moreover, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) claims that every dollar a solar panel saves you on your electrical bills can increase the value of your home by $20. 

Another measure comes from Zillow, which reports that solar increases home sale values by 4.1% nationally, with a median premium of an additional $9,274 for homes sold with solar panels already installed. So, even if you are considering moving in the near future after your home upgrades, a new roof and solar energy system can make a lot of financial sense when considering the value they add to your property.

See how much you can save by going solar with Palmetto

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Step 02
My electric bill is $290/mo

The Benefits of Solar Energy

When you do roof replacement with solar on your home, you can enjoy the following perks for years to come:

For deeper insights into the many reasons that solar systems will help your home, check out our list of Solar Energy Pros and Cons

Roof Replacement Steps

Typically, the process of replacing your roof should take around 2 to 3 weeks. However, the project can take longer due to elements beyond the roofer's control, including factors like weather, seasonality, roof characteristics, and home layout.

To understand the complete roof replacement process, an excellent place to start is learning what’s involved in each stage of the process. If you’re thinking about getting a new roof and solar panels, here’s an example of a typical shingle roof replacement:

  1. Contract: The roofing company will typically have you sign a contract that outlines the work that will be performed.
  2. Home Preparation: Before touching any shingle, professional roofing services will protect your home by covering your siding and landscaping with a tarp or similar material.
  3. Removal of Old Shingles: In most cases, the roofing contractor will remove every shingle (including those in good shape) to inspect your roof's base. 
  4. Plywood Inspection: The roofers will examine the plywood that forms your roof's base to locate and repair any damage or insecure attachments.
  5. Shingle Preparation: Roof protection is crucial. While tactics may vary from company to company, they may install things like water and ice protection, a drip edge, and roofing felt. 
  6. Shingle Application: This is when your new roof material actually goes onto your home.
  7. Application of Flashing and Ridge Vent: If necessary, the technicians will apply flashing and ridge vents to direct water away from certain areas and allow air to escape without letting water in.
  8. Cleanup and Inspection: Professional roofers will always clean up after themselves once a project is finished, including a final inspection that ensures the work was completed to the homeowner’s satisfaction.

Never Delay a Necessary Roof Replacement

If your roof is damaged, there are several reasons why you shouldn't delay replacing it using the services of a vetted, insured, and licensed roofing company.

  • Element Exposure: Due to aging, degrading roof shingles can expose your roof structures to things like moisture, heat, pests, and mold. These elements may eventually find their way into your home and cause additional damage.
  • Personal Safety: If your roof is damaged beyond repair, it can cave in at any time (especially during heavy storms), jeopardizing your safety.
  • Reduced Home Value: Nobody wants to pay high prices for damaged property, so an aging roof can decrease the overall value of your home.

An asphalt shingle roof in need of replacing due to wear and tear

Source: Wiki Commons

Reasons Why You Might Need a New Roof

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), over 2.8 million homes per year need a new roof. Thus, while a roof can typically be expected to serve you for 20 years or more, the following signs are indicators that yours needs replacing:

  • Broken or Loose Tiles/Shingles: Your naked eyes can usually spot these issues, so keep an eye out for broken or misplaced materials.
  • Worn-Out Materials: Like anything else, aging will eventually take its toll on your roof. After many years, you may notice issues like worn tiles, rusting, shingle granules, and bare shingles.
  • Water Damage: Any broken roof component can invite water into your home, especially during rainstorms. Inspect your roof for torn underlayment, worn-out sealants, broken tiles, and similar problems.
  • Cracks and Punctures: Trauma is the leading cause of cracks and punctures to tiles and underlayment. This can include objects like tree branches falling on your roof, poor installation, and the weight of someone walking on it.
  • Stagnant Water: If your roof's flashing and gutters are damaged, it may not remove water efficiently.
  • Structural Damage: Failure to repair damaged roofing can result in additional damage to your home’s structure that may endanger your life and that of your loved ones.

The reason you might need a new roof before you can go solar is that the process of removing and reinstalling solar panels is complex and expensive, so it's better to get the roof work done before you add solar panels on top. In addition, if your roof is nearing the end of its expected life, it may not be structurally able to safely support the added weight of the solar equipment, which can pose a danger to the installation team, and your home itself after the installation.

A solar panel installer using a computer to sync solar panels to the technology associated with the system

Roof Solar Panels Installation Timeline

The entire process of installing a roof with solar energy panels for your home includes estimates, design, permitting, installation, grid connections, inspection, and more. Thus, the entire project can take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks to complete. Surprisingly, the actual process of Installing solar panels on the roof (excluding everything else) typically takes less than two days. Here’s a look at the steps involved in a typical solar power installation performed by Palmetto:

  1. Initial Estimate: Start by getting a free solar quote from Palmetto to see how much you can save.
  2. Site Assessment: After contacting us, we'll visit your home to check the roof direction, review any shading, and take measurements. Expect this step to take between one to two weeks.
  3. Design: Based on the assessment details and your roof complexity, Palmetto will create a more detailed plan of your solar panels and adjust the quote to ensure your solar power system is tailor-made to your home. This includes optimizing the system size, using blue or black solar panels, and creating professional site plans ready for building code approval. 
  4. Permitting: Getting the necessary permits from your city, county, and state governments can be an agonizing experience, but Palmetto will take care of it all for you. It can take 2 to 8 weeks to complete this step as we wait for approval from the necessary governmental officials. Unfortunately, this timeline is outside of our control, but we do what we can to speed up the process.
  5. Installation: In most cases, all of the installation work typically takes five days or less, including placing solar panels on your roof, installing the mounting hardware, and wiring the system so it connects to your home.
  6. Inspections: Your county or city will then conduct a final review before the utility grid approves the quality of the installation, secure in the knowledge that your solar panel system can safely join the grid. Most inspections occur within 1 to 4 weeks.
  7. Utility Interconnection: Palmetto will forward the necessary documents to the utility company. Within 1 to 6 weeks, the utility will connect you to the grid, install a bi-directional meter to track your energy production, and provide the official “Permission To Operate” documentation that means you’re approved to turn your new solar power system on and start generating electricity.

Roofing and Solar Panels Lifetime Expectancies 

One of the key reasons why it is so valuable to align your roof replacement with your solar panel installation is that both roofing materials and solar equipment are designed to last for multiple decades of performance. By having both projects completed in one fell swoop, you may be able to save money with a streamlined installation both now and 25-30 years down the road when your next dual-replacement is advised.  

While most premium residential solar panels sold today are rated for 25 years of efficient energy production, the expected lifetime of your roof will depend on the materials installed. The most common roofing material in the US is asphalt shingling, which is generally expected to last between 15 and 30 years, depending on the quality of the materials. 

Beyond the lifespan of asphalt shingles, many alternative roofing materials are designed to last much longer, allowing new solar panel installations to often still be worth it later in the life of the rooftop. Although long-lasting materials usually necessitate a higher investment cost, solar panel owners may be able to access longer system lifespans when pairing a renewable energy installation with a roof made of tile, metal, or slate. 

In the chart below, you can see the expected lifespans of the most common roofing materials in the U.S. as outlined by the Inter­national Association of Certified Home Inspectors.

A chart that illustrates the expected lifespans ofthe most common roofing materials in the U,S., including asphalt, concrete, clay, copper, metal, slate, and wood

Source: International Association of Home Inspectors

Are solar shingles worth it? 

In the 2020s, years of technological advancements have led to many new products available in the home solar market that fall under the category of “solar shingles.” Solar shingles are building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) that incorporate solar energy generation directly into roofing materials – or in other words – solar shingles are one-half solar panel, one-half roofing shingle, and a great way to replace your roof and adopt renewable energy all at the same time.

Although there are many pros and cons of installing solar shingles, the main appeal of the technology is that the materials look like an ordinary roof, while protecting your home and generating electricity hidden in plain sight. In reality, the technology is often only worth it financially when your roof also needs to be replaced. With that in mind, a “solar roof” (as it is sometimes called) can be a great investment in the right set of circumstances if available at a decent price point.  

The words "Solar Shingles" over an image of a roof covered in solar shingles, representing the advantages and disadvantages of a solar shingle vs traditional solar panels, and if they’re worth the investment.

When talking to your solar advisor about solar shingles, it is important to measure your project costs and expected payback directly with a traditional solar panel-based system to determine which will be better for your home and budget. Often, when putting aesthetics aside, traditional solar panels and roofing materials are much cheaper and easier to adopt than solar shingle systems.

Roof Solar Panels Alternative: Ground-Mounted Systems

If you are midway through the life of your home’s roofing materials and a rooftop solar panel installation simply doesn’t make financial or logistical sense, a ground-mounted solar installation may be a workable alternative for your property.

Appearing just as they are named, ground-mounted solar systems are mounted into the ground (rather than installed on your roof) and are most common for larger projects such as community solar farms. For homeowners, ground-mounted systems are usually a bit more expensive to commission as trenching and extensive wiring may be necessary to bring the power from the panels to the property’s buildings.

Solar panels mounted to the ground

With that said, ground-mounted systems work well for those with enough space to accommodate them, as the panels can be positioned for optimal solar production. In some cases, you may even be able to raise your ground-mounted solar panels above a driveway or parking area, creating a “solar panel carport” at home or on a commercial property. 

Let One Company Help With Your New Roof Plus Solar Panels

Yes, you can hire separate roofing and solar companies and manage things yourself. However, your best bet is to engage the services of one company to handle the new roof with solar panels at the same time.

Some roofing companies have a solar team but lack in-depth solar expertise and a dedicated solar panel installer. Some solar companies may also have a roofing team, but they're often consultants, not installers. All these can result in poor coordination that leads to a delayed and overly complex installation process for your roof and panels.

Why work with Palmetto Solar?

When you choose Palmetto to install your custom photovoltaic (PV) system, our seamless, end-to-end approach will get you up and running as soon as possible. We work with experts who have the right experience installing a new roof plus solar energy panels for your home. Because we manage the relationship with the roofing team, you get a single point of contact for your professional roofing and solar installation, simplifying the process and making sure the work gets done right the first time.

Key Takeaways

  • Replacing your roof is the perfect time to install solar panels.
  • By combining two projects at once, you can save money on upfront costs with a streamlined installation and future expenses such as the need to remove and replace solar panels. 
  • It’s best to work with a single company that can coordinate the two projects (installing a new roof and solar at the same time) for you to ensure that everything works together seamlessly.
  • Going solar can help you save on your utility costs, enjoy federal tax credits, get credit for selling surplus electricity, and cut down your carbon footprint.
  • Together, a new roof and a solar energy system can significantly increase the value of your home and property. 

Contact Palmetto if you’re looking for a new roof with solar panels. Our experts can review your situation and provide recommendations about the solar power system that's right for your home. To get started, estimate your potential savings with a custom solar solution today.

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My electric bill is $290/mo
About the AuthorCory O'Brien HeadshotCory O'BrienSenior Director - Growth Marketing

Cory brings over 8 years of solar expertise to Palmetto, and enjoys sharing that knowledge with others looking to improve their carbon footprint. A dog lover residing in Asheville, NC with his wife, Cory graduated from UCSB. If you run into him, ask him about the company he founded to rate and review beer!

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