How to Remove Solar Panels
If you're trying to remove your solar panels it's important to do it safely and efficiently. We recommend working with a solar installation company for any removal as they will have the technicians and electricians on hand to make sure your tie to the electrical grid is maintains and no injuries happen.
There are many reasons why you may want to remove your panels such as installing new ones, moving to a new home or even fixing damaged ones.
In this guide, we will cover the steps you need to take to remove your solar panels, including how to disconnect them from the electrical system, how to safely remove the mounting hardware, and how to properly dispose of the panels.
Common Reasons for Removing Solar Panels
There are several reasons you might want to remove your solar panels but some of the most common reasons we hear about here at Peninsula Solar are:
- Repair & Maintenance: If your panels are damaged or not working properly then you may need to have them repaired or replaced. In some cases, it may be more cost-effective to replace the panels than to repair them.
- Moving to a New Home or Business: If you're moving to a new home or business location you may want to take your panels with you. This can be a great way to save money on energy bills right off the bat. It's important to ensure that the new location is suitable for solar and you have all the necessary permits for installation before you remove them.
- Replacing Your Roof: If your roof needs to be repaired or replaced then you'll have to remove the solar panels. Working with a solar contractor can be a good way to ensure your panels aren't damaged during removal and can be reused.
- Remodeling/Upgrades: If you are making any upgrades or remodeling your home there is a chance you may need to remove your panels, especially, if you're making any upgrades to the electrical system.
Before you remove your solar panels you'll want to consider a few things as it could end up changing your plans considerably and it may even void certain things, like warranties.
Before you remove your solar panels you need to make sure your warranty will still be valid and not voided once you touch them. In some cases, manufacturers require solar panels to be removed by certified professionals. If your panels are still under warranty and you remove them then you may void your warranty and the manufacturer will not cover any cost of repair.
Local Regulations & Permits
You will need to check and see what permits may be required for removing your solar panels as some areas will require them to ensure the removal is done safely and in compliance with all local building codes.
Professional Cost to Remove Solar Panels
The cost to remove solar panels can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the size and complexity of the system and the location of the panels. It's important to obtain quotes from multiple companies.
The average cost to remove solar panels is between $300 to $1,000 per panel based on the factors outlined above.
Depending on the size and complexity of the system it could take awhile to remove a full solar energy system from a home and reconfigure it back to normal. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. You will likely be without power during the removal process so keep that in mind when scheduling a company to remove them.
Safety Precautions Before Removal
Due to the complexity of these systems and the safety precautions you need to take, Peninsula Solar highly recommends working with trained professionals to ensure no damage to the equipment and no injury to yourself or others.
If you're adamant on doing the removal yourself you will want to:
- Keep an eye on electrical hazards.
- Use protective equipment.
- Make sure you wear appropriate footwear.
- Make sure you secure the area.
Solar panels generate a lot of electricity and if not handled properly can pose a serious electrical hazard to you, your home or your business. You will need to ensure you fully disconnect all electrical connections and make sure you turn off the electricity supply from the grid.
You should be wearing gloves, hard hats and safety glasses when removing the panels in the event the glass shatters or some other mechanism fails. The gloves will protect you from scraps and cuts, the hard hat will protect you from any falling debris and the glasses will protect your eyes from debris and dust during the removal process.
It's important to wear appropriate footwear when removing the panels. You will want to wear sturdy, non-slip shoes or boots.
To make sure no one else gets hurt while removing the panels you will want to barricade off the area and secure it so no one can accidentally get harmed. If you're working on a roof then try to use a safety harness in the event you do slip, especially in winter time.
Step-by-Step Guide to Removing Solar Panels
It can be pretty daunting to remove solar panels from your roof, especially for the first time. But with the right tools and knowledge, it can be a pretty straightforward process.
Here is a high-level step guide to removing your panels:
- Turn off the power to your solar panels.
- Remove the mounting hardware.
- Disconnect the wiring.
- Remove the solar panels.
- Store the solar panels in a safe place.
Professional Solar Panel Removal Service
It is possible to remove your own solar panels but we recommend that you hire a professional solar panel removal service to ensure that the process is done safely and efficiently. A professional installer or contractor will have the necessary experience, tools and expertise to remove your panels without damaging your roof or the panels themselves.
It's important to do your research and choose a reputable company. You should start by asking for recommendations from friends, family or neighbors who have had solar panels removed, repaired or even newly installed. Every company that installs solar panels should have the capability to remove them as well.
It's important to choose a company that is licensed, insured and experience in solar panel removal, such as Peninsula Solar.
In some cases there will be roof damage so many homeowners look for a company that can refer a good roofing company or those that can repair the roof damage themselves.
Post-Removal Roof Repairs
After removing solar panels from your roof you will want to do a thorough inspection to make sure any and all repairs are done. This is very important if you live in climates, such as Northern Michigan, that gets an abundance or rain or snow.
Inspect for Damage
If your solar panels have been on your roof for an extended period of time then it's very important to inspect it for damage around where they were mounted. Look for any leaks, cracks or other damage to the shingles.
If you find any leaks you will want to repair them as soon as possible. You can also test where your panels were installed by running water on your roof with your hose. Have someone enter your attic and check for any dripping or wet spots.
If this is left alone you could face water damage leading to mold or structural issues causing you to have to replace your entire roof.
Replace Damaged Shingles
You can buy shingles from your local hardware store, such as Home Depot or Lowes. You should take a sample of your shingle to try and match the color as close as possible. Keep in mind that you may not be able to find a perfect match based on the age of your roof.
In some cases, you may want to patch an entire area or side of the roof depending on how many shingles were damaged and the area the panels covered.
Consider a Full Roof Replacement
This is something many consider when they remove solar panels from their roof. This is also the main reason many do remove the panels. If you don't have the largest roof or it's within your budget then replacing your current roof with a new one can be a great way to make sure you are up to code and can even be a good return-on-investment down the road if you sell your home or business.
Solar Panel Disposal and Recycling
If you decide after you remove the solar panels that you do not want them there are some steps you need to take to dispose of them properly. Solar panels are made from materials that can be recycled so you should consider recycling them before just throwing them away.
Keep in mind that some solar panels are made with what we call "hazardous waste" and this means that those solar panels can not be thrown in your normal trash. To properly dispose of solar panels you will want to find a certified electronic waste (e-waste) recycler.
You can find a certified e-waste recycler by going to the EPA e-Stewards program.
These facilities should take the entire solar panel from you. If you're not using one of the certified places, you will need to disassemble the parts such as the glass, aluminum and silicon and other components and take them to a respective recycling facility for that material.