When you are looking into home improvement, it is always best to research how that improvement will affect the rest of your home.
It’s no different when installing solar, as you are going to have to make sure the roof is up to the job.
An average solar panel weighs between 5 and 10 kg per square metre.
If you had 15 panels, that could be up to 150 extra kilograms pushing down on the beams. Most roofs will handle that with absolutely no problem at all.
As installers, we very rarely have issues with customers being suitable for solar panels.
That said, a reputable installer will do a proper assessment of your roof before they start fitting anything at all.
How installers will assess your roof
Unless you are a professional roofer with a fair bit of experience, you won’t be able to assess the strength of your roof to any practical degree. You can make a visual check if you can get to the beams and internal structure.
Before we install your panels, we will carry out a thorough assessment including but not limited to:
- Assessing the roof membrane to make sure it’s new enough and has enough integrity.
- Assessing the rafters and the trusses to make sure there’s no damage, rot or infestations.
- Structural survey to ensure that the roof load will not exceed 15% additional load.
- Assessing the roof tiles to ensure that they won’t become damaged when lifted or moved.
If the company you employ does not do this, then you need to look elsewhere for your solar installation
How would solar panels damage my roof?
It’s the fitting of the rails and the panels on those rails, that will cause any damage to your roof.
Panels are usually fitted on specially designed rails that span the roof and are secured with legs attached to the roof structure itself.
If the rails are fitted correctly and secured in a way that is suitable to your home, then you have very little to worry about.
The only way your roof can be damaged is by a badly fitted system, overzealous fitters or extreme weather.
In the UK the chances of the weather being bad enough to damage panels, the rails, or your roof is very slim indeed.
Solar energy systems are built to withstand wind speeds of up to 140 miles per hour.
To put that in perspective, Category 4 hurricanes have winds that reach speeds beyond 150 mph. Unless we see a serious turn in our weather patterns, your systems will be fine.
The panels themselves will not harm your roof in anyway, in fact, they will actually protect the surface from the more harmful elements.
Solar panels will shade the roof and prevent sun damage to any adhesives, coating and even the tiles themselves.
Rain, snow, and hail will all be repelled by the robust casing of the panels.
Learn more about solar panel mounting.
How can I tell if my roof is damaged?
This is easy enough cause water will get in! 😉
Well, that’s not all, but if the fitters have damaged a tile or two, drilled through a beam, or just not sealed the holes for the screws, you will get leaks when it rains.
So, ensure you check the loft for a few months after the installation.
Keep an eye on the tiles after it’s been windy, and the panel runners move, they may take a tile or two out with them.
But, if the fitters have done their job, and we don’t have any category 1 hurricanes, your roof will be safe.
That said, always ensure your installers are MCS accredited.
Can removing solar panels damage the roof?
Once again it’s all about having the right tools for the job and the right people.
Professional fitters are trained to remove panels safely as they often upgrade old systems, taking panels away for resale or recycling.
As the panels are, usually, on a frame that is attached to the roof structure, its the removal of this that has the most potential for damage either by breaking tiles that need moving or by splintering the beams when removing bolts.
But, as we always say, leave it to the professionals and you won’t have to worry.
Can solar panels damage flat roofs?
Fitting solar panels on a flat roof is a different process than a pitched roof, but the principles are similar.
Most flat roof installations will use rails to mount the panels at the correct angle, then the rails are attached to the roof using an angled frame.
The integrity of the roof should have been worked out long before anyone is going to start lugging panels across it, so there is very little damage that can be done.
Ballast systems use weights to hold the frames to the roof – sandbags can be used for both frames and tubs, while tubs can also be filled with water.
Where damage can occur, is when frames are bolted to the roof and bad workmanship creates issues.
Again, look for the relevant accreditation and insurance when choosing your installation team.