We recently surveyed a rooftop for a plastics printing company. This business was using approximately 3 million kw of energy each year and needed to reduce the cost of electricity. They want to install solar panels on their industrial roof, which offers a 25% reduction ontheir energy bill. Prior to the solar panel installation, work has started on preparing the sheets and the application of Giromax Roofcoat to protect their roof system.
Following the installation, we will inspect the roof again to check if the drilling process for thefixings has damaged the roof and exposed cut edges. We will then advise on whether anyrecoating and remedial work is needed to ensure the coating guarantee isn’t voided. There are various ways that an industrial roof can be damaged by a solar panel installation.
5 ways solar panels can damage industrial roofs
While solar panels provide excellent energy and cost savings, they can cause damage to industrial roofs if they are not installed properly. In some cases, the roof might not besuitable for solar panel installation. We look at a few ways solar panels can damage industrial roofs.
Solar panels can place a significant amount of weight on a roof. This weight can cause stress on older roof structures, which can lead to cracks and other forms of damage. Additionally, the pressure from the solar panels could cause weaker roofs to bow or warp, causing damage over time. Therefore, it’s important to check the roof integrity of older buildings, which should be covered in your roof survey.
Solar panels can also be damaged by strong winds. If the panels are not securely attached to the roof, they can lift off during high winds. This can cause damage not only to the panels but also to the roof surface itself. Always check your industrial roof after severe weather. Giromax roof coatings have been developed to withstand extreme weather conditions, including heavy rain, snow, ice and UV rays.
As solar panel installations require penetration of the roof to secure the panels with fixings, this can create entry points for water ingress. The fixings should be watertight but if they are faulty or not affixed correctly, water could seep into the roof and cause a leak. Leaking water will lead to damage inside the building, including mould. Make sure the fixings seal correctly and the installation hasn’t damaged the surface.
As the installation involves penetrations through the surface, the cut edges of the metal sheeting can become exposed, which could lead to corrosion. The sheet lapsand lap joints need to be encapsulated with a suitable cut edge corrosion coating,such as Giromax Edgecoat. This market-leading cut edge corrosion repair system ismoisture tolerant and comes with a 15-year guarantee.
Installing solar panels on an industrial roof can create maintenance issues. If the panels are not installed intelligently, they can obstruct access to air conditioning units, vents and skylights. This can make it difficult for workers to carry out routine maintenance tasks and repairs. Additionally, if the panels are not cleaned regularly, they can become dirty, which will reduce the overall efficiency of the solar system.
Preparing an industrial roof for solar panels
Solar panels undoubtedly offer excellent energy and cost-saving benefits to businesses, as well as helping to tackle climate change. To avoid any issues, we always recommend working with a professional solar panel installer. If you’re a surveyor, your assessment of a roof’s suitability for solar panel installation will also be a useful factor in your client’s decision-making process. Your guidance on the weight limits of the roof could be crucial.
Before the installation, we recommend a full inspection of the roof surface. Our team will check for any signs of cut edge corrosion, looking at the sheet overlaps. We’ll also look forany corrosion on the heads of fixings and inspect any skylights and vents. We will then advise on whether the roof needs a recoat or any treatments to ensure the roof integrity.
After the solar panels are installed, we will reinspect the roof to see if there’s any damage to the coatings and whether any remedial work is required.