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Considering a solar roof?

Solar projects are becoming more and more common as power costs rise and the government introduces tax and credit incentives to offset the costs of installation.

While it seems to be the wave of the future, many are still wondering what the big deal is, how people choose to make the initial investment and if their investment will bring forth the promised fruits.

Below we look at some things you should consider before installing a solar project.

Building Considerations

Does the roof area get sun?

This seems like an obvious one but is a very legitimate question. Before deciding on a solar project, watch your roof throughout the day, preferably throughout a year. As the sun’s angle changes you may have more shade on your roof area than you had previously believed.

If your building has nothing tall in the nearby surroundings, you can be reasonably sure that this won’t be an issue.

Is the space you have useable?

Some buildings have many projections on the roof (HVAC and other electrical equipment) which can get in the way of a solar installation.

If you aren’t sure, getting a solar installer to come and take a look at the space you have will give you a better idea of what scale of operation is reasonable.

Will the building still meet building code?

Most importantly here is the weight of any solar operation. Each roof has a specific carrying capacity which must support the roofing system, electrical equipment, snow load, and proposed solar project.

If you have a single-ply membrane roof that is mechanically fastened this shouldn’t be a problem, but if your roof is an older tar and gravel or if your roof has rock or paving stone as ballast to hold on the roofing system then you may have to look at lightening the load before adding more weight.

Will your roofing system last the life of your solar project?

Once you install solar panels it becomes much harder to access, maintain and repair a roof. If you have to replace your roof during the life of your solar installation it is much more expensive because you need two crews working, your flat roofers and the solar installers who will be moving solar panels out of the way and then replacing them when the roof has been replaced.

If you have doubts as to your roof lasting the 20-30 year life of your solar project, be sure to speak with a flat roofer who has experience preparing roofing systems for solar projects. Be sure to specify that the roof will be used for a solar installation and he will be able to give advice as to what work needs to be done before the install.

Will a solar system affect the warranty on my roof?

This is something that you want to be sure to talk with your flat roofer about. While solar project installers work on roofs all the time, they don’t understand the roofing materials and the damage they can do to the roofing system if they aren’t careful.

You will need to clarify with your flat roofer what will happen if the roofing system is damaged during the solar install and if the warranty will be affected.

Are there government incentives, rebates or credits available to help reduce the cost?

Here in Ontario, the government, through the Ontario Power Authority, launched a Feed-in Tariff program in 2009 which allows you to enter into a contract to sell your extra energy back into the grid at a fixed price.

Additionally there are rebates to reduce the cost of the sales tax on your solar installation. Be sure to check into any additional incentives, as new programs are introduced to encourage people and businesses to ‘Go Green’.

What is the projected Return of Investment on a solar installation?

To answer this you will have to do some research or talk to a solar installer as there are many types of solar installations and the rate of return on your investment will largely depend on the location and size of your project.

Is financing or rooftop rental feasible?

Many financial lenders are seeing the benefits of solar and will help finance the installation. If you don’t want the hassle of being responsible for the install or maintenance of a solar project it doesn’t take solar off the table for you.

There are solar companies who will rent the roof area from you to install their solar project. While not being as lucrative as installing your own, it comes with financial security and a lot less hassle.

End Note

If considering a solar project for your roof you will want to talk with a few experts, specifically the solar installers and your flat roofer.

These people will be able to help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages as well as help you foresee any difficulties you may have to face.

Having worked for years with a solar installation company, our General Manager knows what is required before and after solar installation.

Call us today to discuss your plans with him.