Solar panels can be an excellent way to harness the power of the sun and slash your company’s energy costs. But, they might cause a host of problems with your commercial roof if you don’t take the right precautions.
In some cases, solar panel installation could damage a roof, void a warranty, or compromise the integrity of your roof’s systems. If you plan to use solar panels, follow these tips to protect your investment in both your renewable energy project and your commercial roof.
Speak to the Right Professionals
If you are only speaking to solar panel representatives about your options, you might not be getting the complete message. These professionals may know plenty about renewable energy but not as much about commercial roofs. Before you take this major step and potentially compromise your building’s roof, it’s worth it to consult with a professional roofer.
What Does the Warranty Say?
One of the benefits of your current roof could be that it has a fantastic warranty. Unfortunately, you could jeopardize that warranty by installing solar panels. This isn’t always the case, so it’s important to check. For example, a manufacturer of roofing membranes will have their own requirements if there will be solar panels added, so you will need to follow strict guidelines or risk voiding your warranty.
The Potential for Fires
One of the risks with solar panels is the higher potential for fires, even though this is slight. When you evaluate your roof for solar energy, it’s essential that these risks are assessed as well. Will the solar panels be placed next to other combustible materials? Is there enough ventilation in the area? If there is a fire, are there systems available to address it quickly?
Is Your Roof a Good Candidate?
Not all roofs are good candidates for solar panels since these materials will put an extra load on your building. An excellent candidate is a roof that can absorb the load without any modifications. You may also have a choice in how the solar panels are installed – attached vs. ballasted. Attached systems could compromise the integrity of your roof, so ballasted systems are preferable. However, you will need to check your local code requirements before moving forward.
There are factors that you should consider in addition to the load and type of solar panel installation. For example, the solar panel system should be designed so that there is still adequate access to the roof for inspections and maintenance. There should also be considerations for optimal draining patterns to avoid water intrusion issues.
Possible Roof Modifications for Solar
Assuming your roof is not the best candidate for solar panels, you may be able to make some modifications to improve your odds. For example, you can add capacity to your roof by changing to a lower-weight membrane for your roofing system. All choices have consequences, so this is something that you should thoroughly review with a roofing professional.
Remember, it’s difficult if not impossible to replace a commercial roof with a solar system installed. If your roof is approaching the end of its useful life, you may wish to opt for a full replacement before installing solar panels. Once you have the right roof in place, it is also time and cost-effective to proactively safeguard your investment with a roofing maintenance program.
Contact All Seasons Roofing LLC now to learn more about our flat roofing systems and be sure to ask about our Annual Flat Roof Maintenance Program. We serve businesses throughout Central Missouri.