How to Avoid Common Solar Panel Installation Mistakes

Solar panels have become the new wave of roof installations and home improvements over the past two decades, and their popularity is on the rise as more and more people become aware of the benefits of this clean energy source. Every person who uses solar panels is making an environmentally friendly impact and a smart financial choice.

However, once in a while you hear about people who have had a bad experience with their solar panel installation. Generally, these negative feedback stories can be traced back to a mistake when the roof was installed.

Poor installations can definitely lead to problems for homeowners, costing them a lot of money and making the idea of solar panels look bad to those who hear about the nightmare that their friends or acquaintances experienced. But these stories are rare and almost always begin with something that could have been avoided.

People who have had properly installed solar panels tend to give you raving reviews about all of the positive things they have noticed that they didn’t expect…and you have to graciously find a way to exit the conversation so that you can go run to your computer and find out how you can get your own solar panels!

If you are looking into having solar panels installed in your home, here are some common mistakes that can be avoided if you know about them ahead of time.

Missed Areas of Concern in Your Roof Assessment

Solar panels are made of photovoltaic cells that connect to your building’s structure, most commonly your roof. If there is anything structurally concerning with it, there can be problems down the road with your solar panel installation. Before you install your solar technology, you should have a complete roofing assessment by a professional.

Not all roofs are created – or age – equally, and some are just not equipped to handle solar panels. An expert professional who conducts a thorough review of your roof can gauge the quality of your current materials and the potential capability that your roof will have of handling solar power.
Some professional roofing companies are looking to make the sale instead of foreseeing how installing a solar panel on an inadequate roof will cause problems for everyone down the road. That is why if you are looking to install solar panels in Phoenix, Arizona, you should turn to the experts at Phoenix Solar Pros.

A full roof assessment takes into consideration three main factors before a solar panel installation should occur.

  1. Will the age of the roof be able to keep up with the solar panels? Most of today’s solar panels have the capability to last 20 years or longer, but if your roof is going to need major renovations before then, it is important to understand that before the panels are installed. If not, when the renovations are required the homeowner could be looking at major issues and significant expenses.
  2. Solar panels add extra weight to the roof – can the roof handle the extra strain? Although they are weather-resistant and designed to integrate with your current shingles, solar panels are heavy, especially if you install them in a full system. The bigger your system, the more energy you can conserve, but the more stress you add to your roof and your home’s frame.A professional installer will evaluate your roof’s structural integrity and determine whether or not it is sturdy enough to capably carry the extra weight and stress that solar panels will place on it. Older roofs in particular have problems with this factor.
  3. Is the roof in good enough condition to handle solar panel maintenance? The roof’s condition obviously needs to be able to handle the construction aspect of the initial installation, but it also has to hold up to regular maintenance. Solar panels need regular system maintenance and the roof needs to be able to handle that level of impact for 20 or more years.When any of these factors are subpar, a good solar panel installer will discuss the potential consequences with the homeowner before initiating a contract and beginning installation.

    While we want everyone in Phoenix and beyond to go solar because it has so many benefits – both to you and the environment – it is not cost-effective or beneficial for a homeowner to install solar panels that are just going to need heavy upkeep or cause a financial burden in the long run. It defeats the purpose, casts a negative shadow over the idea of solar panels, and causes the solar panel installation company to look bad. It’s a no-win all around.

Amateur Mistake – Careless Installation

Installing solar panels is a precise, intricate procedure that requires professional knowledge. In this age of do-it-yourself mindsets, there are many renovations, repairs, and additions that you may be able to do with the aid of a Youtube video or tutorial, but installing solar panels is best left to the experts.

When you are not completely sure of what you are doing, you can make little mistakes that seem insignificant at the time but end up compromising the integrity of your roof or your solar panel.
For instance, someone who does not know what they are doing, or an installation tech who is being careless, may drag your panels across the roof. This can cause damage to the panel itself and the roof.

Similarly, being thoughtless regarding the heavy tools that are used during solar panel installation can create problems. Leaving them lying around on your roof can create holes and cause leaks, creating huge, expensive damage.

Forgetting About Nature’s Role in Your Installation

Solar panels use renewable solar energy that is beneficial to the environment, but that same nature that we are trying to protect can be used against us. A smart solar panel technician understands this and explains it to the homeowners.

Examples of natural processes that can harm solar panel installation and use are things like animal damage. Just like with regular roofs, the panels themselves can attract birds and other nesting animals who want to use the warm area to create their homes. This is great for the lifestyle of the bird, but not so great for your roof when the wires get damaged from build-up and the hardware goes bad, requiring professional fixes.

In addition to attracting birds, solar panels also tend to be interesting to rodents like squirrels and other nimble invaders who like to play with wires and wiggle into roofs. A common maintenance issue is a need for chewed wires or hardware to be fixed because a rodent got into your solar panel.
To avoid this, professional solar panel installers will talk to homeowners about choosing to install squirrel guards or screens along the panels. These do not keep all of the troublemakers out, but they do minimize the problem.

No matter where you live, nature will creep in and effect your roof. Neglecting to take this into consideration can cause problems that could have been avoided with a proactive approach.

Minimalizing the Effects of Weather on Your Solar Panels

Even though solar panels are weather-resistant and are built to withstand weather such as heavy wind and rain, hail, patterns of heat and cold, weather still has an impact on them. Going into a solar panel installation with the idea that your panels are invincible is simply setting yourself up for disappointment later if severe weather does cause damage.

Damage from weather is rare, but it can occur. Heavy hailstorms, lightning strikes, or severe wind storms can create problems, but solar panels are thoroughly tested and required to have proper grounding, enforced through the National Electric Code.

No matter how carefully and rigorously the panels and materials are tested, though, there is no fool-proof, 100% failsafe method to protect against all of nature and there is a slight chance that your solar panels could be affected.

However, improper installation of solar panels means that they are likely not mounted correctly, and the chances of weather causing damage increases.

Although reputable solar panel installation companies provide you with a warranty for their work, most of these will not cover weather damage. Your homeowner’s insurance may, and you will definitely want to call them prior to installing your solar panels and discuss adding this coverage to your policy.

Make Yours a Good Solar Energy Story

Don’t let the naysayers scare you away from solar energy if you are looking into it for your home. Many homes in Phoenix are powered solely by solar panels, and those numbers are rising.

Knowing what the common mistakes are and how to avoid them can help you make your solar panel journey a positive, fulfilling one with a story that makes others ready to jump on the solar energy train, too.
Be sure to use a reputable installation company, like those of us at Phoenix Solar Pros, so your path from start to finish is filled with someone who will help guide you, answer your questions, and continue to be there for you even after the job is done.

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