cost to remove solar panels and reinstallation guide

Solar Panel Removal and Reinstallation Guide

Just like homeowners had professional solar installers put their panels in place when they first bought their system. You need to make sure that you have certified solar technicians do the removal and reinstallation of your system if that's necessary. One of the most important consideration is to determine the cost to remove solar panels from your roof.

Solar power systems are complicated electric components, like a power plant on your roof. Due to this complexity, any type of service requires professional attention. That is why most roofing contractors will not remove the panels before completing the roof project.

Maybe your roof requires repair. Or you are planning on selling your home and want to take your solar panels to your new property. Whatever the reason, if you have solar panels on your roof, it will eventually make sense to remove them. But trying to find information on solar panel removal and reinstallation can be a bit challenging. While shopping for solar, it almost feels like there is too much information. But when it comes to post-service like solar repair or solar panel removal, most homeowners are left in the dark.

The challenge is, typically, your original solar installer would be the first place you call. But most solar installation companies only focus on installing solar panels. They rarely do post solar installation services. These particulars can make it hard to find information regarding solar panel removal, solar panel disposal, and solar panel reactivation. 

Our guide will help you walk through the basics of what to expect when you need to remove the solar panels on your roof. Get an idea of what to expect. From our guide, you should be able to get an idea of who to call, what the job entails. Most importantly, we will provide a ballpark estimate of what you can expect to pay for solar removal.

Investing in Solar Panels - Removal is Important

As more homeowners invest in solar panels, how companies go about repairing roofs has changed over time. If you need to replace your roof, decking, or other components and have solar panels on your roof, you will need to have them removed and reinstalled after the roof repair is complete. The process of removing solar panels on your roof involves multiple steps. From turning off your solar energy system, unhooking the solar power generation system, removing the mounting hardware that holds the solar panels in place, and then taking down and securely storing the solar panels until it is time to put them back up again.

The age of your system, the size, and types of solar panels, the kind of mounting, your inverter, number of panels, and your roof's height will affect the cost and labor involved in the project. A licensed solar company should be responsible for the solar panel removal service . The average roofer is not familiar with or licensed to work with the modern solar panel system's intricate inner workings.

Who Can Remove Solar Panels?

Even though your roofer is the one working on the roof, they typically don't have the expertise nor license to touch your solar energy system. Your solar system is essentially a power grid on your home, and most roofers don't have an electrical background. Even if they did, would you trust a roofing expert to be able to put back your system and warranty their work? 

Even if you trust a roofer without the proper licenses to remove your solar panels, the city may not. Most cities now require permits to remove solar panels and reinstall them on your roof. To even apply for this permit, a contractor in California must either have a General Contractors License (B), Electrical License (C-10), or Solar License (C-46). As the homeowner, you'll also expect that whoever reinstalls the panels will stand by their work. This will ensure that you will continue to enjoy years of savings on your electricity costs. 

Cost to Remove Solar Panels Broken Down

The cost of removing solar panels on your roof can be a little more complicated than it looks on the surface. When you initially installed your system, it was purchased based on a $ / watt increment. When you remove solar panels and reinstall your system, it takes just as much labor as originally installing your system. Most likely it will even be more work, to remove the system and reinstall it to the original specifications. Removing and reinstalling the solar panels on your roof will cost around $300 to $350 per solar panel. Depending on the level of removal and if permits and inspections are required.

Cost breakdown: Removing and Reinstall solar panels (10 panel example)

Item Cost Per PanelTotal Cost
Uninstall and Disconnect Solar Panels$75 - $100$750 - $1,000
Remove Mounting Hardware$50$500
Reinstallation - Mounting, Panels, Reactivation$75 - $100$750 - $1,000
New Mounting Hardware like Flashings$50$500
Permits and Inspections (If Needed)$50$500
Total Costs $300 - $350$3,000 - $3,500

If your solar panel system needs to be repaired, expect to spend an additional $300 to $3,000. The solar repair costs depend on the extent of the damage. You will experience issues that range from one panel not working to having your inverter replaced. If your roof repair requires that roof penetrations made from the mounting hardware are patched, it may cost an additional $750 to $1,500. 

flashings solar panel removal reinstall parts
Flashings Need to be Replaced When Reinstalling Solar Panels

Solar Panel Removal & Reinstallation Cost Considerations

  • Most of the original flashings and hardware are old and easily damaged upon removal. Portions of your mounting hardware will need to be replaced when reinstalling your solar panels.
  • The city's building and safety department require a permit to be pulled for solar removal and reinstallation. 
  • Solar companies require at least six (6) solar panels to be added to your system. Some solar companies bypass this minimum when you are reinstalling your system since they have to pull permits regardless. 
  • This estimate does not include the cost of roof repair, replacing any decking, underlayment, or other roof materials. This cost is only for removing and reactivating your solar energy system. 
  • Always hire a professional solar installation company or call the original solar company that installed your solar energy system. You may pay more for utilizing their service. But it could impact hundreds of dollars in electricity costs if done improperly.

DIY considerations

  • Working with a solar energy system is not the average DIY project. Solar energy systems are intricate, complex, delicate power plants that involve a lot of electrical wiring, heavy glass solar panels, and other electrical connections to consider. Working with a solar energy system can be challenging. It can also be dangerous since you are dealing with electricity. So the safest, more reliable choice is always to hire a solar installation professional.
  • Solar repair kits are available online, and most homeowners assume that installing or removing solar panels is a task they can handle. However, these kits are for RVs, small off-grid applications, and aren't designed for rooftop solar for a home. 

When to Remove Solar Panels from Your Roof?

Your system may still work fine or even well with damaged surfaces, so have a professional solar company check your panel output before you request a full removal.

solar panel roofing removal paper

Solar Power System isn't working correctly: 

Have a solar installation company come out to assess the damage, and do a diagnostic on your solar energy system. Your solar repair technician may decide to make a partial repair by soldering together your panels' cracked surfaces to save you the need to remove and replace your solar panel. Even a cracked solar panel may still work fine with a damaged service.  

Selling your Home: 

The new owner may not agree to take on the ownership or lease of the solar panels. If you lease your system, you may need to purchase your system outright and then remove the solar panels. If you already own your system, the process will be more straight-forward. However, a full removal without the intention of reinstalling the system means that there may be more costs when removing the system. This is because all of the conduit, electrical wiring, roof penetrations must all be sealed and undone as if the solar panel system was never there. 

The roof needs to be repaired:

When installing your solar panels, you may not have thought about replacing your roof. After a few years, your roof may need to be replaced despite the fact you have solar. Roofing companies will require that your solar energy system is removed before doing any work on your roof. 

How to Remove Solar Panels

If you need to have, your solar panels removed or repaired, removing a solar panel may be as simple as unbolting the solar panels from their mounting device and unplugging the connecting power wires below. However, for full solar removal service, the solar circuit must also be disconnected from the mainline.

You may also need to remove the mounting hardware. Once they remove these pieces, you may expose roof penetrations or openings where the original solar installation company cut into your roof to add the mounting device. These will need to be patched up and correctly filled to ensure that your home's roof doesn't leak due to the roof penetrations. This wide array of different scenarios can complicate the work, increase the chance of roof penetration leaks, and increase labor costs. 

Replacing the Removed Solar Panels on Your Roof

solar inverter repair orme enphase cleaning dirty solar

While the cost of solar panel removal and reinstallation costs don’t match up to the cost of a new solar energy system, you may have an extremely old or outdated system. In this case, a full replacement may be a better option in the long-run. The solar company you work with should warranty solar panels for 25-years and guarantee at least 80 percent of the system’s initial performance. The cost of solar panels has dropped substantially in the past few years. So for some homeowners, it may make sense to purchase a brand-new solar energy system for your home. Now that is a bright idea that could help you save Watts of Money!