Asbestos in my roof! Can I install solar panels?

You are now mentally and financially prepared and willing to go ahead with a solar panel (photovoltaic) installation on the roof of your home. The only problem is, after having your potential installer come out and have a look at it, you’ve found out that your roof has got asbestos in it and your installer has reluctantly informed you that they will be unable to carry out the install. Where can you turn? Fear not! There are potentially a few other choices available to you.

Asbestos fiber, until a few decades ago a common component in buildings as a fire retardant and noise insulator, can have serious negative health repercussions for those who work with it. It can crumble and decay over time, and can then be inhaled as it floats around invisible in the air. Agitation or removal can induce its disintegration, and a common tactic for dealing with it when it is discovered is to not touch it at all, or to contain it as it is. It’s no surprise, therefore, that an installer might not be particularly keen to start drilling holes into an asbestos-laden roof.

So what are your options?

-If your solar installer agrees to do the install if you get rid of the asbestos, you could look into having it removed professionally, thereby clearing the way for construction. Make sure that the remover is reputable and professional–asbestos removal is not a job to be undertaken lightly.

-More likely, however, it would be wise to find an alternative spot on your roof, or the roof of another building on your property (e.g. a garage) with a north-facing aspect. By doing so you may be able to avoid the asbestos issue entirely and still stand to reap the benefits of solar power, potentially even if the new roof you have selected is in a sub-optimal location. You can contact a Solar Choice broker directly, or ring us on 1300 78 72 73 for detailed regarding your options for placement

-If you own a large property with sufficient space to do so, you could consider a ground-mounted installation near your home.

-It may also be possible to install photovoltaic panel awnings above your windows or doors (such as can be seen here and in the image at top). Depending on the aspect of your building and space available on walls, this would actually enable you to choose an optimal tilt angle for direct insolation (sunlight) appropriate to your location. Additionally, awnings may also serve the secondary purpose of keeping direct sunlight out of your home, thereby helping to improve the visual and climatic comfort for people inside.

Written by James Martin

Solar Choice Analyst

© 2010 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Sources and Links:

Worker’s Health: Asbestos Factsheet

Thanks to the Greenwala.com Tech blog for the top image.

James Martin II

Contributor at Solar Choice
James was Solar Choice's primary writer & researcher between 2010 and 2018.

He is now the communications manager for energy technology startup SwitchDin, but remains an occasional contributor to the Solar Choice blog.

James lives in Newcastle in a house with a weird solar system.
James Martin II

Comments

  1. Fantastic article. This not something a lot of people think about when looking to get solar panels installed. The photovoltaic panel awnings are a great alternative to the traditional roof panels.

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