A recent Fox News article brought to light a danger many people had not considered when looking to install solar panels on their roofs – the weight and electricity of solar panels can put fire fighters in danger when they try to put out flames.  While solar panels and alternative energy are encouraged in Colorado, and covenants that effectively prohibit or restrict installation of solar are void and unenforceable, associations can impose reasonable restrictions for safety and aesthetics. 

The law that permits the safety restrictions targets safety requirements "required by an applicable building code or recognized electrical safety standard."  As indicated by the article, current codes don’t dictate the area which may be covered by panels, or the necessary support in the building.  As such, some homes end up with roofs covered with panels, but lacking strength to support.  In the event of a fire, a roof may collapse more easily with the additional burden.  On top of this, solar panels may continue to generate electricity during a fire, further endangering first responders.

If you’re looking to install solar panels, make sure that you not only obtain your association’s approval, but that you also consider potential safety risks, and the ability of your home to support your new improvement!