Are Solar Panels OK for my Roof?

7 Reasons to Reconsider Solar Panels on Your Roof

Solar roof panels are becoming more and more popular as people look for ways to save on their energy bills and move to a more sustainable lifestyle. Before you jump on the trend, keep in mind that Northern Virginia's unpredictable weather and low electric rates might not make this a cost-effective choice. 

What to Know Before You Get Solar Panels on Your Roof

1. They May Not Save You That Much Money

In every state, you pay a set amount per kilowatt hour (kwh) to your electric provider. Rates range from as low as $8.00 per kwh to more than $20 kwh.

In Virginia, the rate is $11.47 per kwh. When you put solar panels up, you replace your connection to the electric grid with what is essentially your own grid. If your electric rates are high, this can represent definite savings. Most solar installers estimate that a solar system pays for itself after 10 years.

2. Days of Sunshine

The people most likely to save money with solar panels are those who live in high-rate areas that get plenty of sun all year.

This brings us to the second consideration. Northern Virginia does get a lot of hot, sunny days in the spring and summer, but it's a different story the rest of the year. If your roof is shaded by large, old trees, they will also cut down on the amount of sunlight that can reach your roof.

3. How Much Will They Cost?

Solar roof panels are expensive to buy and install. While most of them do pay for themselves over the years, that is typically true when you pay in full for them. If you're on a leasing plan or a financing plan, you may only see savings of 10% to 30% on your electric bill. 

The best way to know if solar panels are a good way to save money is to determine if you'd have what's known as "grid parity," meaning that you'll pay the same or less for the electricity produced by your panels as you would from your electric provider. 

4. Design Considerations

If you're concerned with how your house looks, you may dislike the way those roof panels distort the line of your roofline and balance. If you're saving a ton of money and not experiencing any roof problems, you probably won't care. Otherwise, you may decide to wait for more attractive options to be available.

5. What About Weather Damage?

Solar panels are a great idea for homeowners in areas that get a lot of sunshine and mild weather. In states like Florida and California, they make a lot of sense. Here in Northern Virginia, however, we know all too well that the weather can be extreme.

We also deal with a constant freeze-and-thaw cycle that can leave the panels weak and loose. Solar panels aren't designed to direct water flow away from your roof. In the case of heavy rainfall or snowfall, you might be risking leaks and water damage.

6. Building Permits and HOAs

Before you make a major addition to your home like solar panels, you need to make sure that they're permitted by local building codes or your community's homeowner's association (HOA). 

These codes might limit the number of panels you can install or where they can go on your house. You may also need to get clearance from a local electrical inspector. 

7. How Old Is Your Roof?

Installing new solar panels on an old roof is asking for trouble. Many solar panels are guaranteed for 10 or 20 years. If your roof only has a few years left on it, you can expect major roof problems to start under those panels. If you need a new roof, install that before you put up the solar panels.

Get Advice From a Local Roofing Expert

Before you install solar panels, call Last Call Exteriors. We can determine whether your roof is ready for the installation and give you some guidance on whether solar panels will be worth the cost and trouble to install. Save money, time and headaches by giving us a call.