Should you replace your roof with solar shingles?
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[Solar Hook Series] SOEASY Solar Roof #1 Hook
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Any homeowner who’s concerned about carbon footprints and energy costs has considered solar power — usually, in the shape of solar panels. But now there’s another option: an entire solar roof.
Solar roofs are composed of solar shingles, aka solar tiles, that can fit over existing shingles or be installed on their own. So the energy-harvesting ability is baked into the roof itself. The shingles do everything regular shingles do, roof-wise (protect your house from the elements), are fire-resistant, and are quite durable. Plus, they look a lot more sleek and seamless than solar panels.
If you’re considering replacing your roof (or are building a new one for a new home), solar shingles may be a particularly timely choice. The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August 2022, offers enhanced tax credits of up to 30 percent of the cost of installations, increasing the incentive to go solar.
Let’s shed more light on the subject.
What are solar shingles?
Solar shingles or tiles are like regular roof shingles. But instead of being made of asphalt, clay or slate, they are made of glass that contain photovoltaic cells. Photovoltaic cells act as semiconductors and transfer energy collected from the sunlight into electrons, which can then become electrical current to power your home. Each shingle typically produces between 13 and 63 watts of energy, depending on the brand (one of the latest, by industry leader Tesla, claims to have a max power of 71 watts). While they both convert sunlight to energy, solar shingles are quite different from the solar panels (we’ll dig into the differences later).
The first solar shingles were developed by DOW Chemical Company, rolling out in 2011. But the concept began to get serious traction in 2016, when Tesla purchased manufacturer Solar City and began offering what it deemed the Tesla Solar Roof. Today, there are several brands of the solar roof tiles available through manufacturers like CertainTeed, GAF Energy, Luma, SunTegra and of course Tesla. (Dow dropped out of the game.)
The average size of a solar shingle or tile is about 12 inches wide by 86 inches long. It takes about 350 solar tiles for a standard-size roof. Tiles weigh about 13 pounds per square foot, so most roofs can handle them without additional reinforcement.
Why You Should Consider Putting Solar Panels on Your Roof
The continuing rise in popularity of residential solar energy is certainly grounded. In addition to providing a clean renewable energy source, solar power has multiple financial benefits for homeowners. We’ll discuss the top benefits below.
Everyone loves tax credits, especially when they are sizeable and easy to calculate.
Tax credits, sometimes called Investment Tax Credit or ITC, are “a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount of income tax you would otherwise owe.” Who doesn’t love that?
For 2020-2022, you can receive a 26% tax credit. In 2023, there is a slight reduction to 22%. After 2023, Congress will reassess the ITC (as they did in 2020). The tax credit was initially passed in 2006.
The best part? There is no maximum claim amount.
The tax credit is most likely to apply if you are purchasing or financing the solar panels and it is the initial install. For example, you could not claim a tax credit on a home you purchased with preexisting panels. When calculating what your total tax credit would be, you’ll want to determine if any rebates or other credits you receive affect the federal tax credit.
Net metering essentially means that when your panels produce more electricity than your personal footprint, your local energy company collects that energy and pays you for it.
While the policies and level of payment vary over time and are largely based on where you live, solar companies work hard to keep this benefit in place for homeowners.
For example, in North Carolina, the top solar companies fought hard against a potential new policy Duke Energy tried to pass that would reduce net metering payments. In the end, they came to a good compromise that protects current and future homeowners for a considerable amount of time.
However, it is important to note that even with solar roof shingles or panels, your energy company may still charge you a monthly base utility fee. Duke Energy (servicing much of North Carolina) has a free net metering calculator you can use to plan ahead.
Energy Bills Prices
Since most or all of your energy will come from your solar power, you will see a dramatic decrease in your energy bill. With the ever-increasing cost of nonrenewable energy and utilities, this is a big bonus. Solar energy is renewable and inexhaustible, you don’t have to worry about the sun charging you more money over time
Return on Investment
With federal and state tax credits, potential rebates, net metering, and decreased energy bills, your solar panels can quickly pay for themselves. Add up how much you will earn and save in these categories. How close is that number to the cost of your solar project? Probably pretty close. Even if you are unable to pay for the installation up front, most solar companies also offer financing options where you would still qualify for that federal tax credit.
Real estate in North Carolina, especially the Raleigh Triangle, is booming. Let’s say you install solar panels this year, and you plan to sell your house in 5-10 years. Not only will you benefit from the solar panels yourself, but you will also greatly increase your property resale value. In fact, in 2022, North Carolina was named one of the top three states where solar energy increases your home’s value!
The most obvious benefit of solar energy? It is environmentally friendly. Fossil fuels are an exhaustible source, but we can always harness energy from the sun. By utilizing a renewable resource, we are preserving the earth’s resources.
Why South is Not Always the Best Orientation for Solar Panels
For more benefits of installing solar panels in North Carolina, check out our partner 8M Solar’s article on solar panels in North Carolina.
How Your Roof Affects Solar Panels
It’s easy to want simply to call a solar installer and get those panels up there as soon as possible. However, if you are installing rooftop solar panels, there are certain factors you’ll need to consider. Let’s start by going over the different ways your roof affects your solar panel installation.
The size and shape of your roof determine how many solar panels you can install. For example, if you have a gable roof with two large slopes, you can probably fit more solar cells than if you have a split-up roof with multiple small sections.
If you have a smaller roof, you can still install panels. You may just be limited to a certain number of panels. Otherwise, you may need to disperse the solar panels over multiple sections of your roof.
Every roofing system has some roof penetrations – whether they be bathroom exhaust vents, PVC pipes, HVAC pipes, or chimneys. Your solar installer will need to work around these areas as they plan the number and location of panels.
In some instances, you can work with a roofer and plumber or HVAC contractor to relocate the roof penetrations.
The pitch or steepness of your roof affects how much sunlight your solar panels receive. The optimal pitch is between 30-45 degrees. The steeper your roof, the less sunlight the panels will receive. If you live in an area with longer winters, steeper roofs can actually receive more sunlight in the wintertime.
Naturally, the direction your house faces greatly impacts the amount of sunlight received. In most cases, a southward-facing roof is best as it will receive the most direct sunlight for your panels.
The roofing material determines how easy it is to install solar panels or a solar roof. Metal, asphalt shingle, and flat roof systems are ideal for installations. Slate and wood roofs, while not impossible, naturally pose a bigger challenge since the shingles are more fragile.
Lastly, the quality of your roof decking is critical, as it acts as the foundation for both your roofing system and the solar panels. You do not want to install a solar system on a roof with significant rotted decking. Unfortunately, not all roofing contractors replace rotted sheathing during their roof replacements, so you may want to call a qualified roofer to inspect your roof and sheathing to determine its condition.
Ultimately, before making a final judgment call, you will want a qualified solar power engineer to survey your property and provide their recommendations.
How Solar Panels Affect Your Roof
The relationship between solar panels your roof is a two-way street. So let’s talk about how conventional solar panels can affect your roof.
Many companies use roof mount systems to install solar cells. If you have a quality solar contractor, this shouldn’t be an issue. However, if the panels are installed poorly, a roof leak may develop in one of the solar panel penetration points.
The solution? Thoroughly vet your contractors (details on that in the next section). Further, figure out what the workmanship warranty is with your solar company should their installation cause a roof leak.
While not very common, it is possible for birds to build a nest under your solar panels. This undoubtedly can damage your solar or roofing system over time with the birds’ foot traffic and organic matter. Unfortunately, the presence of birds can also attract other unwanted pests.
Solar Panel Installation
Make sure the crew that installs the traditional solar panels or solar shingle system is experienced in working on a roof. If not, they could create accidental roof damage with their foot traffic.
On the sunny side of things (pun intended), solar panels protect your roof from sun damage over time. Sun rays and intense heat wear down your shingles, lighten their color, and make them more brittle over time. In contrast, solar panels thrive on sunlight. By covering your roof with the solar panels, you naturally protect the underlying shingles.
Along the same lines, solar panels absorb the sun’s rays and heat, protecting your roofing system and keeping it at a cooler temperature. A cooler roof equals a cooler attic space, which equals a cooler (or lower) electric bill in the summertime. A big perk in North Carolina.
Inclement Weather Storm Damage
Quality solar panels are meant to withstand hail and heavy storms. While a quality shingle installed correctly is also meant to withstand storms, it can still sustain minor damage. When solar panels cover a large portion of your roof, they act as a protective umbrella over that area from wind and hail damage.
As a final note, solar panels can affect your overall roof manufacturer or workmanship warranty. For example, some roofers may say solar panels will negate your entire workmanship warranty. Others (like at Artisan), simply do not cover the specific areas where the solar panels are connected to the roofing system. Those areas should be covered by your solar company.
Make Your Roof a Solar Roof
It’s never been easier to go solar! Get a 30% tax credit and greatly reduce or eliminate your electric bill.
Limited Time30% Tax Credit
Receive a renewable energy tax credit of 30% for solar panels ( Photovoltaic systems) on your roof.
We Offer Financing
Cover the entire solar (and roof if needed) with the financing we offer.
Eliminate YourElectric Bill
Get paid back for the cost of the project from the solar energy savings over time.
Start your project with a free inspection and estimate.
Over 20,000 satisfied homeowners.
We really enjoyed having Hoffman Weber as our contractor for our remodeling project. Their craftsmanship was second to none and couldn’t be happier with the results. I would highly recommend Hoffman Weber as your all-around contractor of choice for your home remodeling needs. Our transformation was incredible, and they will not leave you disappointed
During the install of the new roof, they again worked efficiently and daily cleaned up after themselves. The roofing they installed looks magnificent, and several neighbors have been very complimentary.
Chris SieffermanEden Prairie
Excellent service before and after the work was done. Detailed bid, great crew. The cost was in line with other bids we received. The fact they actually got on the roof to review the condition and the detailed bid, as I asked for, made the difference in selecting them. The crew was friendly, efficient and did a great job with cleanup. Definitely would recommend them.
The whole experience was first rate. Joe was great to work with and was very helpful. I would highly recommend calling Hoffman Weber for roof work again!
Paul St. MartinBloomington
Start With A Roof Inspection and Solar Estimate
It’s important your roof meets certain code requirements to qualify for the tax credit. We will inspect your roof’s condition and report any storm damage that may warrant an insurance claim.
CALCULATE YOUR ENERGY SAVINGS
Our professional will calculate your home’s TSRF, which is the most accurate representation of how much solar your roof can convert into electricity.
DETERMINE SUITABLE FINANCING
We will walk you through the Mosaic PowerPlus Roof and Solar Financing Program.
Ensure You’ll Receive The Tax Credit
Our solar pros will make sure your new panels qualify you for the 30% tax credit and help you apply.
Find Answers to Your Questions
A residential solar energy system uses solar panels on a home to collect free energy from the sun. This energy is then converted for use to power that home. The residential solar panels can be installed on the home’s roof or ground-mounted. Residential solar systems are cost-effective and good for the environment.
Your solar or PV modules or panels are typically warrantied for 25 years. They actually are anticipated to last at least twice as many years. The warranty that you will receive guarantees a certain output, and you will receive an estimate from us that is approximately 90 percent accurate over 25 years. Your estimate takes into account that by year 20, the solar panels will be producing sunlight energy up 80 percent or more of their initial installation quality.
After 25 years your solar panels are still warrantied, at 80 percent performance of initial power output.
Mosaic Solar Financing Options:
PowerSwitch ChoiceFor homeowners who want to add solar energy systems and/or battery storage to their home — and have the CHOICE to take advantage of the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit.
The CHOICE product has an amortization schedule designed for homeowners planning to pay down at least 26% (potentially received by the Solar Investment Tax Credit or other funds) in the first 18 months. After month 18, payments are adjusted higher if less than 26% is paid, or lower if more than 26% has been paid.
PowerSwitch PlusFor homeowners who want to add solar energy projects — PLUS make other improvements — like upgrading their HVAC unit, roof, doors, Windows more at the same time.
The PLUS product’s standard monthly payments remain the same with a one-time re-amortization occurring at month 18. This is perfect for homeowners who don’t plan on receiving the Solar Investment Tax Credit. Using extra funds to pay down the loan before month 18, however, will result in an adjusted lower monthly payment for the duration of the loan.
If the roof conditions are not favorable to the success of the solar installation including any structural support as may be required, it may be recommended to get a new roof. It is possible to roll in a new roof as part of your solar financing. The residential system owner can also include the roof as part of their solar system expense, and claim the tax credit under Section 25D of Title 26 of the Internal Revenue Code.
Our professionals will inspect your roof to determine if any repairs or replacement is needed for solar installation code requirements and if you have sufficient storm damage to warrant filing an insurance claim.
Hoffman Weber’s storm specialists are trained to identify surface damage from severe weather that may not be apparent initially but will continue to deteriorate over time. These telltale signs of storm damage may not be visible from the ground. Homeowners expose themselves to unnecessary risks when they climb onto their roofs and attempt to photograph storm damage.
You may have to replace your roof.
Re-roofing adds a fresh layer of shingles to an existing roof structure. There are some advantages as well as disadvantages to doing so.
Re-roofing is a one-time investment, and if the roof is damaged or has reached the end of its useful life, you will have to replace it entirely. As a result, before re-roofing your home, you should consider the following factors:
The age of your roof
Your roof will require replacement after it has surpassed 80 percent to 85 percent of the manufacturer’s recommended life span.
There are a few concerns associated with re-roofing your home under an old covering of shingles:
- If the exterior shingle layer of your house is weakened, your home will be vulnerable to leaks.
- Most insurance companies will not compensate for damage to a house that has been re-roofed. They are concerned about the structural stability of the roof as well as the state of the initial layer of shingles, which they believe may have made the property more vulnerable to damage.
- Some roofing companies regard warranties for houses that have been re-roofed as null and invalid.
- By adding a layer of shingles to the roof and solar panels and snow or rain, the roof’s structural integrity is reduced, and the roof may fail as a result. You may have to replace your shingles instead.
The extent of the damage
When you believe it is time to re-roof your home, you should inspect your roof yourself or have a professional do so for you first. The amount of damage determines whether you’ll need to replace or re-roof your home when it comes to roofing.
If the damage has spread to the roof’s frame due to water damage, there is a reasonable risk that your roof will not be able to support the weight of the solar panels and the extra layer of shingles on top of them.
Missing, cracked, or curled-up shingles may necessitate replacement rather than re-roofing. This is because an excellent first layer of shingles provides an extra layer of protection for the house if the top layer is compromised.
Local building codes are subject to change over time. Contact your local construction business to determine what you can and cannot do with your property.
One of the examples includes;
The use of 3-tab asphalt shingles was once widespread, but several building codes no longer permit their use because of their low wind resistance. As a result, architectural shingles are the asphalt shingles of choice in some places since they have a greater wind rating.
If you had previously used 3-tab shingles, you would have to transition to architectural shingles to comply with building regulations.
You will have a power outage.
If you have solar panels attached, you may experience a power outage for a period of time that lasts the entire replacement period.
When it comes to solar panel mounting, you have two choices:
These solar panels store energy in batteries while also supplying solar power to the home’s electrical system. They operate independently of the electricity grid and are not connected to it.
This implies that if you have an off-grid solar panel, you will not be charged any utility fees for electricity, and you will not be affected by a power outage in your neighborhood.
While the on-grid solar panels are connected to the main power line, the house draws its electricity from the power line rather than the solar panels. It functions indirectly to give electricity to the owner.
The power grid absorbs solar energy, and the owner gets compensated by the utility company for the energy that they have provided to them through their solar panels. If you do this, you will save money on your electricity bills, but you will lose power if there is a power outage.
Several grid systems can provide power during power outages by installing batteries that serve as backup power sources.
If you have an off-grid solar installation system, you will have a power outage during the period of re-roofing work. Make sure that the re-roofing takes place at a time convenient for you to be prepared.
Connecting your home to the primary power grid allows you to use your solar electricity as a backup in case of a blackout while saving money on utility charges.
You can switch to solar shingles.
As an alternative to re-roofing your home with a new covering of shingles, you should consider adding solar shingles. You will choose to have shingles and solar panels in a single package.
This is recommended if your roof does not qualify for re-roofing and requires a complete replacement. Consult with a roofing professional to discover whether your roof is suited for solar shingles.
It is advantageous to use solar shingles to replace your roof since you will not have to replace your roof for the entire life of the solar shingles. They also have a longer life span and provide protection and solar energy in one package.
Additionally, combining them will save you money on maintaining and repairing both the solar panels and the roof individually. Solar shingles have one replacement and maintenance period, whereas shingle roofs and solar panels, which are of different durability, have many replacement and maintenance periods.
Are roof replacement and solar installation both offered by the same company?
Most of the time, different businesses compete with one another to provide their services. This is true unless the company is a partnership or a fully integrated corporation.
This distinction between solar panel installers and roof replacement contractors is critical to grasp. Before you begin the job, ensure the team members are capable of working together to provide you with a functional solar installation and a sound roof.
Can solar panels be fitted to any roof type?
Solar panels are equipped with various mounting hardware that can be utilized in multiple situations. In the case of re-roofing with different solar panels or when intending to install solar panels on your roof, check with the solar panel providers to see if they can be installed on your roof.
If you are re-roofing your home with solar panels and intend to use a different roofing material, you need to make provisions for this in advance. Have the mounting hardware and other items supplied to your home before the re-roofing process begins.
When is the best time to mount solar panels on your roof?
Solar panels can be fitted at any time, but given that the roof has a limited lifespan, installing them simultaneously as your roof or installing a new roof may be preferable.
About Mikku Sons
Our roofing company was founded in 2001 by Michael Riutta, who is still part of the ownership and management team. Between Michael, his two sons and co-owners, Devin and Joshua, and our crew members, we have many years of experience to handle any type of roof repair or roof installation solutions you may need.