Do Commercial Solar Panels Void My Roof Warranty?

by | Apr 8, 2023

People installing solar panels on flat roof

There are plenty of ways to improve your commercial building, but investing in a quality roof is probably one of the most important. It shields your structure from the elements and keeps your tenants dry, so you appreciate having a warranty to keep it safe.

Flat roofs for commercial buildings also cost a lot of money, so it’s understandable that you want to protect your assets. Depending on the material used, installing a commercial roof can cost anywhere from $4 to $9 per square foot. With the average commercial roof being 10,000 square feet or more, you could easily be looking at $90,000 for a complete overhaul.

But now, you’re also considering investing in solar panels for your commercial building, and you’re worried that it could have an impact on the structure and its guarantees. Solar panels are a great way to generate clean energy for tenants and combat rising commercial energy rates, but it still can be a hard decision. You’re wondering, “do commercial solar panels void my roof warranty?”

No, commercial solar panels most likely won’t void your roof warranty if installed correctly, although there are some important factors to consider. The type of warranty, the terms, and involved contractor all make a difference, as well as following the appropriate procedures.

This article does not constitute legal advice or a guarantee. Please review the terms of your warranty agreement and consult with a licensed contractor or industry professional before starting a solar project.


Basics of commercial roof warranties

If you had a commercial roof installed by a licensed contractor, you were most likely offered a warranty in some shape or form. There are two different types of warranties available for roofs on commercial buildings: manufacturer and workmanship.

ballasted racking on rooftopRacking system for a solar project on a flat commercial roof

A manufacturer’s warranty covers the repair or replacement of products during a specific time period, provided a contractor has installed them correctly. Usually, this protects against defective materials or accidental failure, so you can be confident that you’re covered from factors outside of your control. There are several types of manufacturer’s warranties that offer varying amounts of protection from damage, and they can cover both the cost of materials and labor in some cases.

On the other hand, your contractor also likely offered a workmanship warranty that covers both the installation and products used on the commercial roof. Contractors design them to safeguard against issues that arise from mistakes or poor-quality installations. These are generally shorter-term warranties, but you can use the length offered in the contract phase can to gauge a contractor’s confidence in their skills.


Ensuring solar panels don’t void your roof warranty

While it can be tempting to manage the whole process by yourself, adding solar panels to your commercial building can be a long process with a lot of opportunities for missteps, so it’s usually better to let a professional handle the details. They’ll be sure that adding solar panels doesn’t void your roof warranty by:


Reading the terms of your agreement

When planning a solar program for your commercial building, the first step is to check the roof situation and details surrounding its setup. This generally starts with a review of any documentation that you or your property manager might have regarding the original installation of the roof, recent repairs, and other warranty terms. Knowing how old your roof is, who originally installed it, and what materials they used will give a full picture of what to expect from the warranty.

Next, it’s important to read the terms to see if your commercial building is still under warranty and for how long. Check the fine print to see if there are any relevant details concerning solar. As the use of solar panels has become more widespread, many contractors have begun including guidelines in their warranty to ease the process.


Checking for current warranty problems

After there’s a full understanding of the ins and outs of your roof’s warranty, checking if there are any existing warranty issues that could have happened without your knowledge is a great next step. If possible, someone should conduct a roof walk and take detailed notes of any potential problems.

During the walk, it’s vital to watch out for unauthorized roof modifications like improperly added or repaired AC units and flashing, as well as dark spots or pooling water caused by clogged drains. Storm damage or problems caused by excessive foot traffic could also complicate your warranty before a licensed solar contractor even gets involved.


Working with the original roofer

Next, reaching out to the contractor that installed the commercial roof and discussing their recommendations about a solar program keeps important stakeholders in the loop. As the original provider of the labor and materials, they are in the best position to advise on how to be sure solar panels don’t void your roof warranty. They also know the details of both the workmanship and manufacturer warranties that could have come with your roof.

In addition to roofing, the original contractor might also install commercial solar panels or have industry contacts that comply with their warranty guidelines. If they have a working relationship with a solar installer, the process can go a lot smoother.


Contracting an experienced solar installer

After an engineer finalizes the details and design, the right solar contractor can work with the original roofer to install a high-quality solar program that works for your building. An inexperienced or unqualified installer can damage materials, use substandard equipment, or unknowingly void the roof warranty. The right contractor will use the appropriate techniques to install your solar panels and take care to not void your warranty.

For flat roofs, the most common installation method is ballasting, which involves weighing down racks of panels instead of drilling holes. The method adds a little weight to the top of the structure but doesn’t usually require any punctures that need weatherproof sealing


King Energy keeps track of the details

It’s a massive task to bring a solar program to your commercial building, so it’s often easier and more cost effective to work with a professional. King Energy has the experience to streamline the entire process for property owners and managers and make solar easy and financially beneficial for all. Our dedicated project managers have successfully launched commercial solar programs in locations all over California and created solar systems of all shapes and sizes.

Solar panels on rooftopKing Energy solar project

When you start a solar project with King Energy, we take care of the scoping in advance and create a detailed proposal for your commercial building. We use satellite data to evaluate your building, conduct inspections on site, file the interconnection applications, and coordinate with the utility. We also we install using the most up-to-date practices and work with your original roofer to ensure compliance, so you don’t have to worry about the solar panels voiding your roof warranty.

Plus, we cover the costs for the installation and maintenance of the entire solar system and pay rent to property owners for their roof space. You increase the value of your property, and your tenants get access to discounted solar energy at 10% less than the normal utility rate.

Get in touch with us for a personalized proposal for your multi-tenant building.