A Complex Decision
Because the decision to place solar panels on the roof is often
made by professionals who don’t have a background in roofing,
they may not be aware of the impacts on the roof performance or
the difficulties and costs involved when completing maintenance
The logistical and legal issues associated with installing solar
PV on roofs are also complex. This is particularly true when
owners rent their roofs to solar providers. If not clearly defined
by contract, conflict can result over safety provisions, lost income
when the panels are removed during roof work, or liability in the
event of theft, vandalism or damage.
Membrane manufacturers typically have their own requirements if solar panels are installed. If any array is installed over
an existing roof without the contractor or roofing manufacturer’s
permission, your warranty could be nullified.
Lastly, the fire testing of roofs covered with PV panels is far
from complete. While roof fires involving PV are rare, they have
occurred. Some ballasted systems use plastic components that
are far from fire resistant. Polystyrene insulation pads installed
under the panels to minimize the risk of damage to the membrane are also cause for concern.
None of these factors means rooftop solar is a lost cause.
Owners and facility managers should simply be aware of the risks
and take precautions before investing in an array.
Overloads from snow can cause
rack or roof collapse.
If the panels block access to roof drains so they can’t be
cleaned, ponding water can result.
PROTECT AGAINST POOR
Your roof is a smart place to
install solar panels, but without the
right precautions, you can void your warranty,
compromise thermal performance and ruin
waterproofing. Follow these tips to ensure you
get the full benefits of renewable energy without
harming your roof.