New Composite Roof + Solar Panels = Trendsetting

By adding composite roof solar panels, this homeowner will enjoy energy savings and low maintenance for years to come.
Brian Cornell is a trendsetter. When hail damage required him to replace his real cedar roof, Cornell made two significant decisions. First, he invested in a synthetic shake roof. And second, he installed composite roof solar panels at the same time. Both are trendsetting choices.

Trend #1: Synthetic Roofing

“We’ve seen a steady increase in synthetic slate and shake roofing sales during the past several years in the Chicagoland markeplace,” says Jason Chase, owner of JnJ Restoration, a DaVinci Roofscapes Masterpiece Contractor based in Evanston, Illinois. “Most homeowners are interested in the durability of the product for the same reason Brian was. They are frustrated by roofing products that don’t handle severe weather or are tired of maintaining their roofs.

“The DaVinci Roofscapes products we install have a Lifetime Limited Materials Warranty. They’re made to very high standards. These synthetic slate and shake tiles resist fire, impact and high winds. From the maintenance side, they resist splitting, cracking, fading and insect infestations. It’s a roof you put on now and forget about for the next 50 years.”

Homeowners shopping for replacement roofs may discover composite roof solar panels not only reduce energy bills but also enhance their property value. Trend #2: Solar Panels

“We’re definitely seeing increased sales for solar panels on roofs in our area,” says Tom Anderson, senior energy advisor with Greenlink Energy Solutions in Rockford, Illinois. “Homeowners like Brian are thinking twice when it’s time for them to replace a roof. They’re wondering what more can they do with that space to enhance the value of their property?

“According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the amount of solar capacity installed in Illinois is expected to grow by more than 1,700% over the next five years. Cornell’s decision to go solar this year maximizes his Illinois’ solar incentives and credits along with a 30% federal income tax credit that renewed last year.”

The team at Greenlink Energy Solutions used their Aurora Solar Design tool to determine the optimum placement of solar panels on Cornell’s L-shaped home. Then they worked alongside the JnJ Restoration team to mount the panels while the new DaVinci Multi-Width Shake roofing was installed.

“The durability of the composite shake roofing is ideal for hosting the solar panels,” says Anderson. “I envision this trend continuing to grow in the future. We’re seeing more homeowners requesting solar panels at the same time as they’re investing in roofing.”

Selecting Synthetic Shake

For Brian and Lisa Cornell, their journey to a new roof began in 2022. By then their home was 30 years old. Over the years they employed a roof preserver who used an oil based preservative on the real cedar shakes to keep them well maintained. However, a hail storm caused severe damage to the roof on the home and gazebo.

“I knew our real shake days were over,” says Cornell, whose home sits on the Royal Melbourne Golf Course in Long Grove, Illinois. “When I saw the DaVinci composite shakes, they appeared very much like my original shake roof.

“The variation in shingle size and the texture of the synthetic shingle all look just like a real shake roof. I really like the variation in color in the Aged Cedar we chose. The roofing material looks just like a weathered shake roof.”

Adding Solar Panels

With the roof product and color decided, Cornell went back to an idea he had previously considered. Solar panels. He wanted to have them installed on his real cedar roof in the past, but the solar panel company had rejected the request.

“We will not install solar panels on real cedar or real slate,” says Anderson, whose company is a third generation building performance business servicing both northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. “The natural products are too undependable and lack durability. There’s too much chance for breakage. Also, it’s potentially dangerous for our crew, so we will not install solar panels on those surfaces.”

Unlike natural roofing materials, composite shake is an ideal surface for solar panel installation. Cornell remembered those conversations. Before his new DaVinci roof went up, he contacted Anderson again. This time he was pleased to learn that the composite cedar shake roof was an ideal surface for solar panel installation.

“It made sense to minimize the shingle penetration by having the roofers and solar installers work side-by-side,” says Cornell. “This way there was minimal penetration to the substructure, eliminating the possibility of leakage in the future.”

As a final finishing touch, snow guards were also strategically installed on the composite cedar shake roof by the JnJ Restoration crew.

Investing for the Future

According to Cornell, both the composite roof and the solar panels enhance the value of his home. The solar panels are already providing significant savings on his electric bill. In addition, he expects the solar panels to provide energy savings in about 7-1/2 years. And, whenever he sells the house, he’ll be able to promote his trend-setting roof.

As he points out, his aesthetically beautiful, low-maintenance composite cedar shake roof has a long-term warranty. In addition,  the energy costs to run the home will be extremely low in the future thanks to the solar panels.

“The success of this project is based so much on the two crews that worked together so well,” says Cornell. “The teams from JnJ Restoration and Greenlink Energy Solutions were very professional, dedicated and considerate. I’ve already recommended them to family and friends.

“Both Jason and Tom showed great patience in answering my questions. They provided us with top-level service, outstanding products and a finished roof that we absolutely love.”