Will Solar Panels Void My Roof Warranty?
Last Updated February 16, 2024
By Michael Jones
Michael literally wrote the book on solar (it’s called The Homeowners’ Guide to Going Solar) and has been a solar consultant for over four years.
One of the most common questions we get when discussing going solar with a Cape Cod homeowner is, “Will solar panels void my roof warranty?”
It’s an understandable concern. Roof replacement is one of the most expensive home repairs a homeowner can make and protecting that investment with a roof warranty is crucial.
And yet, the concern is almost certainly unfounded. Roof warranties are hardly ever voided by the installation of rooftop solar panels, as long as the panels are installed by a reputable company.
In this article we’ll explain how roof warranties work, how solar warranties work and how the two intersect. Since most roofs on Cape Cod are covered with composite shingles, we’ll reference two of the largest manufacturers of composite shingles – GAF and Owens Corning – in our examples.
The Great Misconception About Roof Warranties
A surprising number of homeowners fundamentally misunderstand the nature of their roof warranty. I can’t count the number of times a homeowner has confidently told me that they have a 50-year warranty on their roof, and they’re not going to exchange that for the 10-year warranty that a solar company typically offers.
So let’s start by explaining how roof warranties work.
Two Types of Roof Warranties
The first thing to know about your roof warranty is that it’s really two warranties in one:
- A materials warranty
- A workmanship warranty
Manufacturers issue materials warranties for roofing components like shingles and tiles. These warranties may cover you for anywhere between 25 and 50 years, depending on the material used.
The workmanship warranty is from the installer and safeguards the quality of the roof’s installation. Installer warranties seldom last longer than ten years.
Solar’s Impact on Your Roof Warranty
Speaking of following the manufacturer’s specified installation guidelines, that stipulation also applies to solar installers. In order to not void either of these warranties, the solar panels, and particularly the racking system, need to be installed in accordance with both the manufacturer’s and the installers guidelines.
Roof Installers’ Guidelines
Getting similar guidelines from a roof installer may be a little more tricky. Most roofing contractors are small local companies and there are thousands of such companies across the country.
Expecting each of them to issue detailed guidelines for solar installers is not realistic. So any reputable solar company will simply replace the installer’s workmanship warranty with a similar one of its own.
Some solar companies offer this warranty for the entire roof, others offer it only for the section of the roof that their solar panels are placed on.
If your solar company doesn’t offer at least a 10-year workmanship warranty to cover the possibility that their installation might damage your roof, you should not use them. Any leaks that might occur after ten years, the solar company can reasonably argue would not be their fault.
That 10-year workmanship warranty is one of three warranties that the solar company itself will likely offer. The other two are a Product Warranty, which covers defects in the panels, inverters or other equipment that is installed on your roof; and a Performance Warranty, which guarantees that the system will generate the amount of electricity that the solar company said it would.
What is Not Covered by Roofing Warranties
While warranties will likely cover the “big” expenses that might come up, you do need to watch out for the smaller expenses. For example, while both GAF and Owens Corning will warranty their materials, neither will cover the cost of removing a solar array if that needs to be done in order for them to inspect or replace their defective shingles.
How a Solar Installation Can Void Your Roof Warranty
Should your solar installer fail to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for installation, they risk nullifying your roof warranty. Here are typical scenarios where a solar installation might do that:
- Installation mishaps can lead to roof damage, such as cracked tiles or a breached roofing membrane.
- The use of substandard racking systems.
- Even with top-tier racking systems, using improper fasteners for attachment may jeopardize the integrity of your roof.
- The omission of waterproof sealants in areas requiring protection.
The Final Verdict – Will Solar Panels Void My Roof Warranty?
The answer is almost certainly not, as long as you choose a reputable installer. Larger solar companies that do thousands of installations a month are more likely to know and follow the rules than small “fly-by-night” companies.
Check online reviews, ask for references and actually follow up with those references and call the people to ask. As in any industry, there are good actors and bad ones working in solar. Obviously, it makes sense to do your due diligence to make sure you find a good one.
If you do that, you’ll find that both your solar panels and your roof remain adequately protected by the appropriate warranties.
If you would like to learn more about how going solar will impact your rood, feel fee to contact us to set up a time to chat.
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