Why Drill Holes in Your Rooftop Solar System When They Can Be Installed Without Holes?

Solar panels are a great way to lower monthly utility bills and reduce the carbon footprint of our homes.

No wonder, residential solar panel installation has gained huge popularity in the past few years and many Americans are increasingly switching to solar.

During the process of installation of solar panels, installers will drill holes into the roof to anchor and mount the panels securely.

But many homeowners, who want to switch to solar energy, are worried about whether the drilling of holes:

  1. can lead to leaks in the roofs causing significant water damage to the inside of the house and to expensive repairs.
  2. will void their roof warranties.

As can be seen from the discussion on the topic Solar panels – how often do they cause roof leaks?on Reddit, horror stories about roof leaks post rooftop solar panel installations are not uncommon and the fears of homeowners not unwarranted:

Below are some extracts from the discussion thread
(The discussion can be found here. All threads are within the past year)

User: u/slaweks starts the discussion thread with
Hi, I am considering getting panels, but my friendly builder warns me that cutting the roof to install them is not a good idea, as this causes leaks, at much higher frequency than acknowledged by solar companies.

User: KC_experience
I bought a house in 2018 that is now 6 years old and had solar installed during construction. I live in the Midwest so we get plenty of rain and decent snow most years. At this point I’ve had three different leaks in the roof from different parts of my install.

User: a3pulley
I didn’t want to take a chance, so I learned how to install panels and installed them myself. No one is as careful as a homeowner on his or her own house.

So it is all hogwash when rooftop solar panel installers try to allay the genuine concerns of homeowners regarding roof penetrations with the following arguments:

  1. Roof leaks because of solar panels are extremely rare
  2. Leaks are the result of incorrect installation or shoddy workmanship
  3. The roof was too old or not compatible with solar panels.

Readers attention is drawn to Murphy’s law, an adage or epigram that is typically stated as: “It is found that anything that can go wrong generally does go wrong sooner or later”. Therefore, it is not unexpected for home owners to prefer safety over such specious reasoning.

Hairline cracks in roofs during installation widen over a period of time due to two processes which scientists call (1) freeze-thaw and (2) salt wedging.

  1. In freeze-thaw, rain water flows inside the hairline cracks.  With reduction in outside temperature, this water freezes. The density of ice is lower than that of water. This means that when water turns into ice it needs more space than what it occupied originally. So it pushes outwards on the sides of the crack. The freeze-thaw cycle happens over and over again and progressively the crack widens. Eventually over the years the hairline crack becomes wide enough for the roof to start leaking.
  2. In salt wedging, rain water which carries dissolved salts, dries and leaves salt crystals inside the hairline cracks. These crystals slowly begin to grow and act like a wedge resulting in the progressive widening of the crack and eventually a leaky roof.

Also remember that leaky roofs never fix themselves. We often hear from homeowners that they did not take it seriously when they noticed a stain on their ceiling. By the time homeowners begin to take the damage seriously, it is already too late.

People frequently use the proverb “a stitch in time saves nine” to express that it’s better to spend a little time and effort to deal with a problem right now than to wait until later, when it may get worse and take longer to deal with.

In the context of rooftop solar, by a “Stitch in Time” we mean deal with the problem of the necessity of drilling holes for installation of solar panels before you select your rooftop solar systems installer. Ask yourself and try to find out whether rooftop solar panels can be installed without drilling holes on the roof top.

Homeowners can consider SolarPod’s flagship product, the Z-Rack, the first and only revolutionary racking system that allows solar panels to be installed on sloped and gable roofs WITHOUT HOLES. The patented system enables the installation of roof top solar panels without the need for drilling into the roof and compromising the roof’s integrity.

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