In most cases, a solar energy system is a set-and-forget cost-saving solution that is expected to last 30+ years. But there are some maintenance costs that you need to be aware of. Removing and reinstalling your panels is one of those potential costs.
With solar panel warranties of 25 to 30 years and a usable lifespan of well over 30 years, it is possible that you will need to remove the panels to patch a portion of your roof or install an entirely new roof.
This blog provides ballpark estimates for what you can expect to pay if you need to have your solar panels removed and reinstalled, along with the process and other important things to consider before getting started.
Pro Tip: To lessen the likelihood of removing and replacing solar panels, we recommend only installing systems on roofs that are in good condition and in the early part of their life. A good rule of thumb is to not install solar panels on a roof that has a shorter lifespan than the payback period of the solar system. So you should not install a system with a 10-year payback on a roof that only has 8 years remaining in its usable life.
The process for removing and reinstalling solar panels
The process is simple. After you’ve selected a trained professional, they will come to your property to safely de-energize your system. Then they will get to work removing the panels, racking/mounting hardware, and any wiring that’s on the roof. This will be stripped down to a point that will keep your property safe as well as make it as easy as possible to reinstall. Ask the team removing the panels to fill any roof penetrations left behind from lag bolts or screws with some type of roofer’s cement. This will help prevent moisture intrusion before your roofers arrive.
After the roof repair is complete, the solar installers will return as soon as possible to reinstall the racking, wiring, and panels. Your system will then be reenergized after the system is once again in a safe working condition.
How long does it take to remove and reinstall solar panels?
The longer it takes to complete this process the more energy production and electric savings you will miss out on, so it’s important that this process move as quickly as possible. You will want to make sure all the details are in place with both your solar installer and the roofing company to make sure downtime is limited.
For a general rule of thumb, most residential systems (5-20kW) installed on asphalt shingles will require 1 day for the panels and racking to be removed. Then 2-3 days will be needed to reinstall the panels and racking after your roof is repaired.
Commercial projects will take more time. A 50 to 100 kW system could require 3-5 days for panel and racking removal. Then after the roof is repaired, another 8-10 days will be needed to reinstall the panels. This is also dependent on the type of roof and conditions at the site. For example, different amounts of time will be needed for a standing seam roof versus a flat roof.
Can you reuse the same equipment when reinstalling solar panels?
In most cases, we will be able to reuse your existing equipment. There may be some components that we are not able to reuse, but the main components, panels, and racking will be reused.
This is a big reason to hire trained professionals to complete the removal and reinstall for you. We recommend first contacting the company that installed your project. They will be the most familiar with your system’s design. The second option is to select another highly qualified company in your area.
Do-it-yourself (DIY) solar panel removal and reinstallation may be an option for a qualified and trained person, but we highly recommend not doing this because of the many risks it presents. First of all, unhooking and reconnecting solar equipment is a safety hazard for anyone that hasn’t received the proper training. Also, the equipment can be damaged if not handled properly. This could void your warranties with the equipment manufacturer and your installer, which could end up being costly down the road.
Things to consider before removing solar panels from your roof
After the panels are removed from your roof, you will need a place to store them. In some cases, the panels will be okay stored outside, but only if they are in an area protected from the wind and rain. When solar panels are disconnected, the electrical connectors on the back of the panel are at risk of having moisture get inside of them. Moisture inside the connectors will cause panel failure down the road.
We recommend that you store your panels in an indoor location such as your garage, garden shed, or warehouse for businesses. However, you will want to make sure they are in a secure location to avoid unwanted access or theft.
Another thing to consider is some components of your system could be damaged. Selecting the right company to remove your panels is important, but mistakes still happen. This could add unexpected costs.
Make sure your roofing company is aware of your solar system and willing to offer a roof product that has a warranty that’s not impacted by the installation of solar panels.
Solar Panel Removal & Reinstallation Costs for 2023
Based on the average cost of projects we've completed in the last year, you can expect to pay roughly $300 per panel for the removal and reinstallation of a roof-mounted solar system. This means if your system has 15 panels, the estimated cost to complete the removal and reinstallation will be $4,500.
However, this price will change based on several factors. The main factors that will impact the price are:
- Travel time for our crew
- The number of roof faces your panels are installed on
- The height and pitch of your roof
- The roof type - shingles, rubber, metal, etc
Keeping the process as smooth and quick as possible is best for your bottom line. The longer your system is de-energized the more savings you’re missing out on. Make sure the companies you select have a plan to keep your project moving until completed.
Are you looking for a quote to remove and reinstall your solar panels? If you’re located in the mid-Atlantic region our team of highly trained solar professionals is ready to help. Contact our maintenance team to get started.