A 2021 report by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) shows that California had the second-highest number of residential solar installations in the nation, demonstrating the demand for solar panel installations in the state.
However, a common concern for homeowners is if installing a new roof with solar panels will void their roof warranty. This misconception has caused confusion and hesitation among people who want to reduce their carbon footprint and save on energy costs.
What are the Different Solar and Roofing Warranties?
When considering solar panel installation on your roof, understanding the different warranties that may affect roof replacement in the future is essential. The two primary policies to consider are solar panel and roofing warranties.
Solar Panel Warranty
The warranty on solar panels typically consists of several components: the performance warranty, the product warranty, and a roof leak warranty.
Performance warranty: This warranty guarantees that your solar panels will produce a certain level of electricity over a specified period. It typically ranges from 20 to 25 years and ensures that the panels’ efficiency will not drop below a specific percentage within that time frame, typically 80-84%. If the panels underperform, the manufacturer will repair or replace them.
Product warranty: This warranty covers defects in the solar panel materials and workmanship. This may include leaking voltage, cracks in solar cells, potential-induced degradation (PID), and solar panel hot spots. It usually spans 10 to 25 years, depending on the manufacturer. The manufacturer will repair or replace the faulty panels if any manufacturing defects occur during this period.
Roof leak warranty: Panel manufacturers rarely offer this warranty unless they handle the installation. Standard coverage includes localized roof damage and water damage beneath the penetration. Exclusions may include total roof replacement, pre-existing leaks, and damages during extreme weather events. Solar panel roof leak warranties typically last around 10 years. Solar panel warranties may not adequately cover roof leaks, which can be costly to repair.
The roofing warranty covers the materials and workmanship of your roof. It is typically offered by your professional roofing contractor and can vary in coverage and duration. The two main types of roofing warranties are:
Manufacturer warranty: This warranty covers defects in the roofing materials provided by the manufacturer. It usually spans 10 to 30 years, depending on the type of roofing material used.
Contractor warranty: This warranty is offered by the roofing contractor and covers the craftsmanship and installation of the roof. It can vary in duration, typically ranging from 5 to 10 years.
Will Installing Solar Panels Void My Roof Warranty?
In most cases, solar panel installation often does not automatically void the roof warranty. However, reviewing the warranty documents your roofing manufacturer or contractor provided is essential to understand any specific requirements or limitations related to solar panel installations.
Work with reputable solar panel installers with experience coordinating with roofing professionals to avoid potential conflicts. They can ensure the solar panels are correctly installed and comply with the manufacturer’s guidelines and applicable building codes.
In some instances, roofing warranties may include provisions requiring specific solar panel flashing or mounting methods. By following these guidelines, you can maintain the integrity of your roof while enjoying the benefits of solar energy.
Will Solar Panel Installation Impact My Roof’s Title 24 Cool Roof Compliance?
Solar panel installation in California is closely tied to the state’s Title 24 Cool Roof laws, which aim to promote energy efficiency and reduce heat gain in buildings. While Title 24 primarily focuses on roof materials and energy efficiency standards, it can indirectly impact solar panel installation.
Under Title 24, specific building projects, including residential and non-residential construction, must comply with specific cool roof requirements. These requirements stipulate that a certain percentage of the roof area must use cool roofing materials that reflect sunlight and reduce heat absorption. Cool roofs help mitigate the urban heat island effect, improve energy efficiency, and contribute to environmental sustainability.
When installing solar panels on a roof governed by Title 24, ensure that the panels do not compromise the cool roof compliance. This means that the solar panels and associated mounting systems should be designed and installed in a way that doesn’t hinder the reflective properties or performance of the cool roof.
To maintain compliance, solar panel installers, and contractors must coordinate with roofing professionals to ensure the solar panel mounting methods and equipment do not interfere with the cool roof materials. This may involve using non-penetrating mounting systems or appropriate flashing methods to preserve the integrity and energy efficiency of the roof.
What Scenarios Can Void a Roof Warranty?
To ensure the validity of your roof warranty, you should read and understand the warranty documentation provided by the manufacturer or contractor. Several scenarios can void a roof warranty; knowing these situations can help avoid unintended warranty term breaches.
- Improper installation: The warranty may be voided if the roof is not installed according to the manufacturer’s guidelines or industry standards. This includes using unauthorized materials, incorrect installation techniques, or failing to follow specific instructions provided by the manufacturer.
- Lack of proper maintenance: Neglecting routine roof maintenance, such as regular inspections and repairs, can void the warranty. Manufacturers expect homeowners to take reasonable care of their roofs to prevent damage or deterioration.
- Unauthorized modifications: Making alterations or additions to the roof without prior approval from the manufacturer or contractor can void the warranty. This includes installing new equipment, adding penetrations, or making structural changes that could compromise the roof’s integrity.
- Failure to use approved materials: If replacements or roof repairs with solar panels are needed, using non-approved materials that do not meet the warranty requirements can void the warranty coverage. Only use authorized products that meet the manufacturer’s specifications to avoid issues.
- Acts of nature or external factors: Some warranties may exclude coverage for damages caused by extreme weather events, natural disasters, or other external factors beyond the manufacturer’s control.
The California Solar Mandate requires the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on all new residential construction projects. Exceptions to the mandate include small roofs, heavily shaded areas, and homes with access to a community solar system.
Existing homes built before 2020 are not required to install solar unless they undergo a major renovation. The size of the solar system is determined based on the home’s annual energy needs, which consider the location and square footage of the property. Battery storage systems can reduce the required size of the solar system by up to 25% if they have a capacity of 7.5kWh or more.
Solar panels can potentially extend the lifespan of your roof. They function as a protective layer, shielding the roof from sun exposure, hail, and debris. This can help prevent damage and deterioration, ultimately contributing to the roof’s longevity and reducing the need for repairs or replacements.
Properly installed solar panels will not damage or ruin your roof. Speak with a certified roofing professional for installation to avoid potential risks. Your roof should be able to support the weight of solar panels, considering factors like age, material, and panel size. If installed correctly, solar panels can add around 4.1% in property value to your home.