How Do You Remove Solar Panels to Replace the Roof (Your Guide)

July 14, 2023

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Homeowners often ask, how do you remove solar panels to replace the roof? This is a crucial topic if your home has solar panels and an older roof! A roofing contractor cannot simply “workaround” those panels for repairs or replacement. On the contrary, a solar contractor usually needs to remove them completely and then reinstall them after project completion.

To remove solar panels before roof replacement:

  • First, a contractor disconnects the solar panel system completely.
  • Second, they will typically disconnect the mounting system or racks.
  • Next, they will lift the solar panels off the roof. These need proper storage while disconnected.
  • Lastly, the contractor reinstalls them after roof replacement.

Obviously, this is just a quick explanation of the solar panel removal process. Knowing more about this procedure can help a homeowner better understand what to expect. This includes added cost and time needed to remove those panels. Additionally, you’ll know when to call a solar panel installation contractor near you.


how do you remove solar panels to replace the roof

How Do You Remove Solar Panels to Replace Roof, Step by Step

First, note that a homeowner should never attempt this job themselves unless you’re skilled at working with solar panels. Second, consider needed storage for the panels during your roof installation project. With that in mind, consider how a contractor might remove solar panels before roof replacement:

Turning off the solar panel system

Unfortunately, there is no way to keep your panels connected during your roof replacement project. A contractor must turn these off and disconnect the power for removal. He or she will locate the main disconnect switch or shut-off breaker for the panels. This step prevents any electrical current from flowing through the system during this process.

Additionally, they will need to disconnect connections between panels. Also, they should shut down any power between the wires from the junction box. A professional should also remember to label the connections so they can reinstall the panels easily!

Understanding the mounting system

Solar panels attach to racks or brackets secured to the roof. In turn, your contractor typically needs to remove bolts or screws that hold the mounting system in place. Also, they might need to release clamps that hold the panels in place.

This process is often more difficult than homeowners realize, as those bolts are very sturdy and secure! After all, they’re meant to hold the panels in place even during high winds and heavy rains. In turn, it’s vital that you leave this part of the process to a pro.

Lifting and storing the solar panels

With the mounting system removed, your contractor can lift the solar panels off the roof. Solar panels are typically heavy, so they need assistance during this step.

Additionally, panels need proper storage, in a safe and secure location. Ideally, they should stay on a flat surface or designated storage area. Ensure you keep children and pets away from the panels while stored, to avoid damage risks.

Replace the roof

Once your contractor has completed the solar panel removal, your home is ready for roof replacement. Ensure your roofing contractor knows about the panels so they expect openings where the bolts were. Also, they should alert you to exposed wired or other pieces still needing removal.

Reinstall the solar panels

After roof installation, your solar contractor can reinstall the panels. First, he or she will usually just go in reverse order of the removal steps. Second, they’ll need to reconnect wiring and power to engage the panels once again.

System inspection and reconnection

Once reinstalled, your contractor should thoroughly inspect the panels and confirm they’re properly reinstalled. Then, they will reactivate the solar panel system and verify that it’s functioning correctly.


solar panel systems - mounting hardware

What Happens to Roof Shingles Under Solar Panels?

If you’re thinking of installing solar panels, you might wonder what happens to roof shingles after their installation. Some property owners assume that the panels damage those shingles. Others might wonder if panel installation equals roof leaks!

In truth, solar panels often protect roof shingles against damage. On the other hand, there are some risks to roof shingles with solar panel installation. Consider some added details about what happens to roof shingles under a solar panel system:

Reduced exposure to sunlight

Solar panels cover a significant portion of the roof, so shingles enjoy reduced sunlight exposure. This often slows down aging and weathering. In turn, shingles might actually last longer under solar panels.

Protection from UV rays

Solar panels act as a barrier against the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays are a main contributor to shingle degradation. Consequently, solar panels help extend the lifespan of the shingles by reducing their exposure to UV radiation.

Limited ventilation

Solar panels can limit airflow and ventilation between shingles and the underlying roof structure. Proper ventilation helps dissipate heat and moisture. As a result, reduced ventilation can sometimes lead to increased heat buildup, which shortens the lifespan of some shingles.

Debris accumulation

In some cases, debris such as leaves, twigs, or dirt accumulates between solar panels and roofing shingles. This debris can hold moisture in place, promoting the growth of mold or algae. These growths can damage underlying shingles while creating a very unsightly look.

Poor-quality installation or maintenance

Poor-quality solar panel installation or maintenance over time risks shingle damage. For instance, improper handling, accidental stepping or dropping of tools, or not sealing bolts results in cracked, broken, or displaced shingles.

With this in mind, note that it’s important to work with experienced and qualified solar installation professionals. Their expertise minimizes these risks during the installation or maintenance process.

Lastly, remember that homeowners can often prevent these issues with a few simple steps. For instance, specialized netting around panels blocks debris and keeps birds from nesting under them. Also, an experienced power washing contractor can often clean away growing mold and algae. This protects shingles under your solar panel systems.

What Happens When Your Roof Leaks and You Have Solar Panels?

First, note that installing solar panels won’t prevent roof leaks! Second, a roofer can’t always work around solar panels, but removing them depends on the leak location and repairs needed.

For example, a leak might form in an area not covered by panels. In those cases, a roofer can usually access the area enough to perform repairs without removing the panels. Also, a homeowner might patch smaller leaks from inside the home. In turn, you might not even need a roofer for repairs.

On the other hand, some repairs mean that you’ll need to have the panels removed. Roofers cannot somehow work under the panels to remove damaged shingles and install needed patches. Additionally, removing the panels allows a roofing contractor to perform a full inspection. Consequently, they won’t overlook any needed fixes.

Lastly, remember that removing solar panels ensures their protection during roof repairs. As a result, you might want to consider removing them even if a roofer says they can work around them! Remember that one dropped tool or misstep can mean severe panel damage. With that in mind, consider removal before you schedule roof leak repair.


how do you remove solar panels to replace roof

What Is the Problem With Solar on a Roof?

While solar panels protect roofs against damage, you might note that they can disrupt water flow. In turn, water can back up on the roof which increases the risk of leaks. Also, poor-quality installation can mean more leaks, as said. An inexperienced installer might not seal the openings around bolts and screws, for example.

Additionally, some homeowners might damage the roof when trying to clean off those panels. Regular brushing or just spraying them with a hose removes debris that affects solar panel effectiveness. However, spraying upward along the shingles can dislodge them. Spraying the panels with a leak present can also make it worse.

Are Solar Panels Worth It?

Despite minor risks to your roof, many homeowners believe that solar panels are worth the investment! Check out some reasons solar panels are an excellent choice:

  • Solar energy is a renewable resource, meaning it will never get depleted.
  • Unlike fossil fuels, solar power does not produce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, making it a clean and sustainable energy solution.
  • Solar panels mean significant cost savings over time. Once you’ve recovered your initial investment, solar substantially reduces or even eliminates your electricity bills.
  • By generating your own electricity, you can reduce dependence on utility companies and mitigate the impact of rising energy costs.
  • The solar industry means job creation and economic development. Installation, manufacturing, and maintenance of solar panels all generate employment opportunities in your area.
  • Solar panel installation can increase your property values, often by 4% or more. In turn, you can build equity faster and sell for more money when you choose a solar panel installation.

install solar panels

A Quick Word From Our Team

Go Solar MA is happy to help answer the question, how do you remove solar panels to replace the roof? Hopefully we’ve explained it thoroughly! If you’re ready to investigate solar for your property, call our MA solar panel installation contractors. We’ll provide a FREE quote and answer all your questions. We look forward to hearing from you!


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