Your solar system has helped you save money, reduce your carbon footprint and lead a greener lifestyle or run a greener business. It’s no surprise that you want to take them with you when you move properties, or reposition them to make the most of them following a significant structure upgrade.
Good news - it’s absolutely possible to move solar panels! But like with all pieces of specialist equipment, there are several considerations you have to make before, during and after the moving process.
Below, we go through everything you need to know about shifting your solar panels, either from property to property or from place to place on the same property. Read on and discover what you need to know to make an informed decision about relocating your solar power system.
Can solar panels be moved easily?
Most solar panels can be moved from one property to another, with varying ranges of difficulty and cost. It depends on a few factors:
Where you’re moving to
Distance and changes in council rules are the first things to be considered when moving your solar panels.
If you’re not moving your panels far from your current property - and preferably within range of the original solar installers - you’ll often find that the experts that put your panels up in the first place will be able to help you with the move too.
This can be a great way to ensure that you’re working with people that a) know your panels and b) are able to move your equipment without voiding your warranty.
If you’re moving more long-distance, you may be out of luck with help from your original installer (unless they’ve got installers all over the country like ZEN does). Moving long-distance may also result in changes to the rules around solar; every council has slightly different takes on things like consents, so you must make sure you have all your boxes ticked before your panels are connected. The people installing your solar panels may be able to help with the documentation too. ZEN certainly can.
Lastly, moving to a different area may also mean a difference in your utilities and lines companies. This can impact your solar buyback rates and the process for switching your solar back on.
New roof sun exposure
When you first had your solar system installed, you should have had an inspection and evaluation from your solar installer. Part of this is to ensure that your roof gets enough sunlight to make the most out of solar power.
The same will be true of your new home. If you’re moving to a home that sees less sunlight, worse weather, or has more shade, then the placement of your solar panels may come into question.
New roof strength
Another part of your solar evaluation will have been a roof checkover.
Solar panels can last 25 years or more and they often outlive the roofs they’re installed on! This is why it's imperative to install - or in this case, reinstall - your panels on a roof that is up to standard. Otherwise, you may end up with a dangerous setup that puts too much strain on the roof.
Other than the strength of the roof, the available roof space of your new roof must also be considered. How many free square metres you have (and the shape those square metres are in) will have a big impact on how many solar panels you can mount.
If you move to a home with a roof that has a larger appropriate space, then usually there’s no problem. Smaller roofs, on the other hand, may simply not have room to mount all of your old solar panels.
Old roof strength
Solar panels are secured in place on a roof through a mounting system. This mounting system is, in turn, connected to the roof through brackets literally screwed into the structure of the roof.
Removing your solar system to move them results in holes in the roof where the brackets were located. These holes can leave your old home exposed to leaks and damage, so it’s imperative to fill and seal them before your move.
Pro-tip: With some roofing materials, there will be a difference in the colour of those parts of the roof that were covered by the panels. This is because the roof that wasn’t covered will have been exposed to more sunlight AKA UV light, and will have discoloured.
Solar panel damage
While solar panels are very durable once they’re installed, able to tackle nearly anything the weather throws at them, they can also be quite delicate when being transported. They are full of electrical wiring, glass, silicon solar cells and other fragile materials, and they aren’t appropriate for transport by standard moving companies.
This is another reason why it’s best to work with a solar installer. They will be able to assist with the delicate transport required - either themselves, or through a recommended company.
All of these additional factors and considerations can result in the cost of transporting solar panels being quite high. Specialist reinstallation and specialist transport adds up, as does the requirement for patching your old roof properly before moving.
As a result, sometimes it’s cheaper to buy a brand new solar system, rather than uninstall, move and reinstall your existing one. This is also a great opportunity to upgrade your system to the latest technology - solar power has come a long way in recent years and you may be surprised at how affordable replacing your old system is.
Leaving your old solar system in place may also mean your home is more attractive to home buyers, resulting in more (and better) offers.
Can you reposition solar panels on the same property?
Generally, most modern solar panels can be reinstalled or repositioned. Most of the time, it’s better to leave solar panels where they are, but there are some circumstances where you may want to manoeuvre them:
- Poor initial installation. If you don’t work with a reputable solar installer, your solar panels may not be positioned in the best place to make the most of the sun hitting your roof. They’ll need to be moved to get top efficiency.
- Building changes. If you’re building an extension or otherwise changing the structure of your home, you may need or want to move your solar panels to a different spot on your property.
- Environment changes. Trees and new building constructions can cast shade on your solar panels, reducing their efficiency. If you aren’t able to remove the offending shade-casting objects, it’s better to simply move your panels elsewhere.
- Roofing repairs. Significant roof repairs or roof replacements will require solar panels to be removed. If you put them back where they were originally, this is usually a simple procedure.
You can move solar panels if necessary, but it’s better to get it right the first time and avoid needing to move them. Use a qualified installer, get a full inspection and evaluation, and always check for future changes that may produce shade on your property.
Are rotating solar panels more efficient?
If you’re worried about needing to reposition your panels, you may be considering rotating solar panels.
Rotating solar panels are, generally, more efficient than the static tilted variety you’ll find on homes and businesses. They’re able to track the Sun and thus are exposed to intense light for longer as the Sun travels across the sky.
However, that efficiency comes at a cost:
- Price. Rotating solar panels are more complex to build, transport and install, and their price tag reflects that.
- Fragility. One of the reasons that solar panels last for decades is because they don’t have any moving parts. Rotating solar panels, by their nature, have motors, gears and other components that require more maintenance to stay functional.
- Complexity. Depending on the type of rotating solar panel used, they often require more planning and site prep than the relatively simple static version. This, in turn, increases the time and cost associated with rotating solar panels.
The vast majority of residential solar projects rely on static, tilted solar panels. With the right positioning, these will provide more than enough power at a much lower cost.
Planning a move or wanting to shift your solar panels around your roof? Get in touch with the ZEN Energy team to find out how we can help you get your panels where they’re needed safely.